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Saturday, 1 June 2013

How much value does a financial planner add?

Not much, in some cases, as this saga of financial planning gone bad show:

http://www.smh.com.au/business/profit-above-all-else-how-cba-lost-savings-and-hid-its-tracks-20130531-2nhde.html

While financial planning has its place - as some planners are highly ethical, well-trained and look out for their clients interests for a reasonable fee, and some of their clients have large amounts to invest and lack the required  knowledge to make optimal investment decisions on their own - there are more than a handful of 'financial planners' that have mediocre skills, or whose focus is on maximising their fee income by advising clients to invest in products that provide large upfront and/or trailing commissions.

This article also highlights that using planners who work for a major financial institution is no guarantee that you'll be taken care of a particular planner does the 'wrong thing'. Although corporations all pay lip-service to lofty goals around customer service and satisfaction, their bottom line is usually, well, the bottom line. So fully compensating customers for losses is not consistent with the corporate aims of minimising costs and maximising profits.

As the saying goes, no one has your best interest at heart more than yourself. So while DIY financial planning has its own inherent risks, it may not be more risky than going to the 'experts', given that it is very hard to know which financial planners are really 'value-for-money'.

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