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Financial Planning can be tailored to the needs of most people:
on this Page we answer some Frequently Asked Questions about the process
- and about working with ContinuumFP...

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Financial Planning FAQ2018-02-01T17:00:30+00:00

Financial Planning FAQ information

The financial planning FAQ list below is designed to answer some of the questions that you might have about using the services of a financial planner.

The FAQ list is separated into generic questions about financial planning and financial planners. It also deals with the services available and the costs associated investing through a financial planner – as well as answering a number of questions that are specific to Continuum Financial Planners Pty Ltd (how we ‘keep our professional house in order’).

financial planning faq

Have a question you can’t find the answer to? Click HERE and go to our contact page to submit your questions and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Can an independent third party endorsement of the firm’s reputation be obtained?2017-07-31T15:00:34+00:00

Continuum Financial Planners Pty Ltd (ContinuumFP) has been a Corporate Authorised Representative of the Securitor Financial Group Ltd (Securitor) since 2003: its principals have been Authorised Representatives of Securitor since becoming financial planners (respectively in 2000; and in 2008).

In 2010, ContinuumFP was presented the Securitor Queensland Practice of Year Award.

The principals of ContinuumFP have been awarded service awards for their time with Securitor – and annually are assessed at the highest level of Compliance by the Dealer Group’s officers.

Client testimonials are published on this website’s ‘Clients Say’ Page (and are randomly repeated throughout the site) attesting to the level of satisfaction they experience in their dealings with their respective advisers. Please click on the linked words Clients Say to read more.

ContinuumFP evolved from an accounting practice where its principals worked to strict ethical guidelines provided by the self-regulating professional body, CPA Australia. In that capacity, as accountants in Public Practice, they were subject to – and passed with high recommendation, the CPA Quality Assurance program testing.

Does the firm have a reputation for its financial planning, both with its clients and in the industry?2017-07-31T15:00:34+00:00

ContinuumFP was named the Securitor Financial Planning Queensland Practice of the Year in 2010: the same year in which one of the founding partners of the company, Eric Walters, was awarded the Securitor Queensland Adviser of the Year.

Throughout the Global Financial Crisis that struck in 2008 and persisted through early April 2009 – and had consequences far beyond, we communicated regularly with our clients and saved them from making poorly-timed and inappropriate decisions as to how their (diminished) portfolios should be allocated. Within five years, most of them had recovered the capital that had been written down in their portfolios (albeit that the return on their investments for that period had been seriously eroded compared to long-term averages. We wrote about the experience: read what we did for clients during the more challenging stages of this event.

We are pleased to have the testimonials that clients have given to us: they are published on this website at www.continuumfp.com.au/about-continuum/what-our-clients-say/

How do the advisers approach their financial planning role?2017-07-25T16:04:06+00:00

Our firm’s first principle in engaging with our clients, is to advise in the client’s best interest; and in relation to recommending investments, is preservation of capital: on this basis, we are recognised as conservative advisers.

How that is applied in individual circumstances depends on the detail that is collected, collated, analysed & projected in collaboration with the client. At Continuum Financial Planners, our advisers prepare their advice to clients after gaining an understanding of the client’s financial needs and circumstances. We listen to what our clients have to say; we affirm understanding of their needs, goals and objectives, we offer solutions – and following acceptance and implementation, we show that we care through an ongoing service plan. For details of how our Ongoing Adviser Service Arrangements (OASAs) are structured, see this linked page.

Throughout the process (and all of our procedures are documented for consistency), a keen eye is kept on the client’s investor risk tolerance and any asset preferences they indicate.

What financial planning philosophy does the firm apply?2016-12-14T12:04:19+00:00

Our clients agree that we are a conservative practice: having taken the time to determine the needs, goals and objectives of our clients, we seek to provide them with financial advice that will best utilise the resources available to them in achieving those aims – we deliver personalised, professional wealth management advice in an environment where capital preservation is an important element.

What is the Continuum Financial Planners ownership structure?2018-01-03T17:00:58+00:00

Continuum Financial Planners Pty Ltd (ContinuumFP) is an independently-owned private company. It derives its authority to provide financial planning advice from a Corporate Authorised Representative Agreement with Securitor Financial Group Ltd – a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Westpac Banking Group.

Whilst Securitor remains responsible for the advice provided by its authorised representatives, each of us at ContinuumFP is also insured under a Professional Indemnity policy adequate to provide assurance to clients in the event of prescribed, proven failings.

ContinuumFP has 2 working owners (both qualified accountants with experience in public accounting practice). See profiles on Warwick Bragg and Eric Walters on the The Team page on our About Continuum menu.

Who is the financial planning company?2017-07-31T17:28:19+00:00

Continuum Financial Planners Pty Ltd (ContinuumFP) is the legal entity providing the authority, through the Corporate Authorised Representatives arrangement with Securitor Financial Group Ltd (Securitor), to its financial planners to deliver advice and ongoing services to the clients of the firm. See more about our collaborative engagement style with clients in the Our Offering page on the About Continuum menu.

As noted in relation to the ownership structure of ContinuumFP, we have 2 working director/ shareholders: we also have advisers in joint venture association with the company who deliver advice to their clients under this name. See profiles on our Joint Venture associate, Damien Ferguson on The Team page on the About Continuum menu.

Will the financial planner understand me and my needs?2017-07-31T14:10:20+00:00

Financial Planners are required to meet two legislative standards when providing advice to clients: they are paraphrased as – ‘know the client’ and ‘know the product’.

ContinuumFP financial planners adhere to the motto that ‘.. we listen, we understand; we have solutions … and we care’. The financial planners you will deal with at our firm have a background in accounting, banking or other financial service institutions and in that, we believe that we have a deeper understanding of most business and financial environments than many of our peers.

You should be able to develop a feeling as to whether a prospective financial planner has the capacity to fully grasp your needs, goals and objectives during the complementary (at our practice at least) initial meeting.

Do I need a Financial Planner?2017-07-31T11:39:56+00:00

If you are facing challenges in relation to financial decisions that are beyond your personal level of expertise and experience to deal with: decisions such as financial management of your cash resources; the best way to protect your wealth accumulation process – and to protect your family; ensuring that your wealth will be adequate for your needs as they arise (needs such as retirement, asset replacement or maintenance and even estate bequests); ensuring that any debt or gearing facilities are structured in a strategic way so as to minimise their cost to you – a Financial Planner will be of assistance to you.

At the least, taking the time to engage in a no-obligation consultation to ensure that your decision as to whether to engage a Financial Planner or not is made with the best available information.

Continuum Financial Planners Pty Ltd has developed a Financial Health Checklist that will help you to identify if a financial planner could be of assistance to you: use this Contact Us form to request that a copy be sent to you on an obligation-free basis.

How can a Financial Planner help me?2016-12-14T12:04:21+00:00

A great question! Particularly when we focus on the last word – the ‘me’!

A financial planner can assess your available resources – and your investor risk aversion profile – and, from a clear understanding of your stated financial needs, goals and objectives, compile advice through documented recommendations. They will take all reasonable steps to ensure that you in turn understand the financial plan, explaining how it brings all of the elements from your personal situation together; and the level of confidence you can enjoy, as to the likely level of attainment of your financial independence.

Whether this is done via a one-off engagement to establish a roadmap for the future (and advice-only engagement); or through an ongoing reporting and services engagement that will provide you with scheduled, regular reviews of progress towards your goals, will best be settled after you have your initial meeting with a trusted, experienced financial services provider (financial planner).

What does a Financial Planner do?2016-12-14T12:04:22+00:00

A Financial Planner is a professional services provider who works with clients with the aim of helping them to achieve their financial goals within the time frame specified by the client – and optimising the utilisation of the resources accessible by the client.

A good Financial Planner will be appropriately qualified, experienced in a relevant range of advice services and able to demonstrate that he/ she has listened to their client, understood the needs and able to provide solutions to the needs, goals and aspirations of the individual client. They will back that service up with ongoing services that show they care about the clients’ financial well-being (and peace of mind).

What is a platform as used by a financial planner?2016-12-14T12:04:21+00:00

When your financial planner recommends you use a platform to look after the administration processes of transaction recording and financial reporting for your investment portfolio, they are talking about

  • efficiency of administration (because of the facility to report on multiple investment accounts in one report),
  • flexibility of investment (because the platform operates as a wholesale manager of investments, facilitating access to various investments that would otherwise only be available to High Net Worth investors: without this flexibility the diversification opportunities for your portfolio would be limited) and
  •  simplified and convenient online investor-monitoring of (often) daily valuations of the portfolio.

Through our agreement with Securitor Financial Group Limited, we have access to award-winning investment administration platforms with Asgard and BT Wrap (and can also transact for clients on a range of other platforms if that is the better option for them, because of their existing investment structure).

What outcomes should I expect from using a Financial Planner?2017-07-31T14:12:59+00:00

There are a number of key areas in which a Financial Planner can add value to your wealth management strategy. The extent to which you engage with your financial planner in these areas will depend on where you are on your financial journey. As trite as it may sound, two important issues that a Financial Planner should bring for those seeking financial independence for the future are the ‘sleep at night’ factor; and ‘peace of mind’ for the investor and their dependants.

There is one matter that is often expected of a financial planner that cannot be guaranteed – and that is to have continuous growth in the value of portfolio assets! Your Financial Planner will not be able to influence the performance outcomes of the investments made: they will be able to ensure that the outcomes your portfolio achieves will do the best that it can to continuously work towards achievement of your investment/ wealth management goals, within the constraints of your financial resources and the risk tolerance you are assessed to bear.

By using a Financial Planner to guide and assist you to manage your wealth and financial strategies, you should be able to ‘sleep at night’ with the confidence that your portfolio is doing all that it can to achieve the identified goals – and you and your ‘family’ should have the ‘peace of mind’ that all will be well for those whom you care for/ about regardless of any interruptions to your physical good health and well-being.

What services do financial planners provide?2017-07-31T15:01:03+00:00

Financial Planning is about wealth management and when looked at holistically: it embraces-

  • Accumulating wealth (including goal-focused objectives: setting aside reserves for known future events)
  • Asset protection (investment structures; income protection and other personal insurances)
  • Risk insurance (for wealth accumulation continuance; estate equalisation)
  • Investment (product selection & acquisition; strategically placing investment for attainment of time-oriented objectives – including asset replacement, education funding, major event planning; tax effectiveness)
  • Debt strategies (debt facilitation; debt reduction; tax effective debt management)
  • Superannuation (fund selection; consolidation; insurance portability; all investment considerations)
  • Investor risk profiling (regular monitoring of investor risk aversion; adjusting asset allocation to suit; rationalisation of future goals)
  • Retirement planning (time-focused strategies; pre-retirement pensions; pre-superannuation ‘condition of release’ income streams; goal setting)
  • Asset allocation and diversification strategies (considering goals, timeframes, investor risk profiles and asset protection elements investment products are recommended as to appropriate type – and in appropriate proportion, so as to give the best likelihood that the goals will be achieved under circumstances that yield that ‘sleep at night’ confidence for the investor)
  • Estate planning (even investors are mortal; a financial planner will be able to bring knowledge and experience to the process of compiling appropriate instructions to the Estate Planning lawyer, resulting in attorney documentation and Wills that are designed to deliver the assigned assets to the nominated beneficiaries in the desired proportions)

Our website includes a vast array of articles that cover these topics: a search under the category Wealth Management will reveal many of them.

 

When should I see a Financial Planner?2017-07-31T14:21:25+00:00

Because financial planning covers so diverse a range of matters, you are likely to be able to benefit from advice from an experienced financial planner as soon as a key lifetime/ financial event occurs.

Key lifetime events include: starting employment (first time; or a change); moving out of your parent’s home; buying a property; entering a relationship (personal or business); starting a business; starting a family; and retirement. For a quick questionnaire that will help you determine whether you are inn need of a financial planner, see the Continuum Financial Planners Financial Health checklist (available on request through our Contact Us page).

Key financial events include: starting a regular income (wages, rent, dividends etc); taking on debt (whether by mortgage, credit card or other credit ‘instrument’); receiving an inheritance; and, benefiting from a capital gain.

The value of consulting a financial planner is less about the amount of money involved than it is the outcomes required – and the complexity of the path to attainment. A good financial planner should – provide an introductory meeting at no cost to you; and be able to show you the value of the fee to be incurred for the services you require. The Continuum Financial Planners ‘client value proposition‘ details our offering in this regard.

Why Should I use a Financial Planner?2016-12-14T12:04:22+00:00

Broadly speaking there are two ways to engage with a Financial Planner –

  • to receive initial/ strategic advice; and,
  • to receive ongoing reporting and services.

The Financial Planner you seek to engage should be able to give you confidence that the complexities of your personal financial circumstances are being managed in an efficient and effective way, focusing on achieving your timeline-critical goals. As is well explained on the CPA Australia website – ‘..financial planning can be extremely complex.. legislation in this area is constantly changing and your planner is legally required to keep abreast of these changes. For those who enjoy managing their own money, guidance from a planner is likely to be extremely valuable in checking your strategies and direction.’

Whether you choose to take only strategic advice from a financial planner, or to take comprehensive advice, the scope of the topics to be covered in the advice to be provided to you will be agreed with you – set out in the advice document. Scaled (also known as ‘limited’) advice may not be available in all circumstances, but your financial planner will be able to discuss any such limitations with you before you become too involved in the process.

Will the financial planner understand me and my needs?2017-07-31T14:10:20+00:00

Financial Planners are required to meet two legislative standards when providing advice to clients: they are paraphrased as – ‘know the client’ and ‘know the product’.

ContinuumFP financial planners adhere to the motto that ‘.. we listen, we understand; we have solutions … and we care’. The financial planners you will deal with at our firm have a background in accounting, banking or other financial service institutions and in that, we believe that we have a deeper understanding of most business and financial environments than many of our peers.

You should be able to develop a feeling as to whether a prospective financial planner has the capacity to fully grasp your needs, goals and objectives during the complementary (at our practice at least) initial meeting.

How much money do I need to make it worthwhile seeing a financial planner?2017-07-31T14:14:11+00:00

The value of consulting a financial planner is less about the amount of money involved than it is the outcomes required – and the complexity of the path to attaining those desired outcomes. A good financial planner should –

  • provide an introductory meeting at no cost to you; and
  • be able to show you the value of any fee(s) to be incurred for the services you require.

To read how Continuum Financial Planners Pty Ltd can help you with your financial planning/ wealth management needs, see our About Continuum page.

When should I start financial planning?2017-07-31T11:39:56+00:00

Because financial planning covers so diverse a range of matters, you are likely to be able to benefit from advice from an experienced financial planner as soon as a key lifetime/ financial event occurs.

Key lifetime events include: starting employment (first time; or a change); moving out of your parent’s home; buying a property; entering a relationship (personal or business); starting a business; starting a family; and impending retirement. For a quick questionnaire, see the Continuum Financial Planners Financial Health checklist (request one through our Contact Us page).

Key financial events include: starting a regular income (wages, rent, dividends etc); taking on debt (whether by mortgage, credit card or other credit ‘instrument’); receiving an inheritance; and, benefiting from a capital gain.

 The above events will call for consideration of investment planning to meet future goals or commitments; insurance to protect the most significant asset at your service (yourself and your health); and succession/ estate planning.

What fees will I pay if I engage a Financial Planner?2016-12-14T12:04:21+00:00

The answer to this question is provided in two sections: firstly, the fees you may be asked to pay to the financial planner; and secondly, the fees you pay through the financial planner to other service-providers.

Fees potentially payable to a financial planner include:-

  • advice fees;
    • this is a cost incurred by an investor only when they engage the services of a financial planner and only for the provision of ‘advice’: the fee is payable by the investor, usually after having negotiated the fee prior to taking the advice;
    • advice fees may include the cost of implementation of the advice if accepted by the client, but most often is for the strategy to be involved;
    • where the financial planner is to be engaged to provide advice, implement the strategy and report on progress towards achievement of stated objectives, this will be the first of a couple of fees that will have been negotiated at the outset of the engagement; and
  • ongoing service fees;
    • This is a cost incurred by the investor when they engage a financial planner to provide an agreed suite of services (often including an annual review of the progress of the strategy towards achievement of the agreed objectives): the fee is payable by the investor, usually after having negotiated the fee prior to taking the advice;
    • The service fee might cover supplementary advice during the year; it could also cover an annual (or more regular) meeting(s) with the financial planner; and will usually cover telephone and email requests for information/ updates of data – and may include many other services

Firms like ours are well-advanced in providing services on a fee basis, in many cases rebating back to the client, any commissions received.

Some other fees that an investor may be called on to pay by virtue of implementing an investment strategy include:-

  • brokerage;
    • a cost incurred directly or indirectly to the agent for making a transaction for the investor – and correctly payable by the investor;
    • incurred on share purchases/ transactions (whether directly; or through a managed fund or ETF)
  •  placement (initial) fee;
    • a cost incurred at the commencement of certain investments, covering account establishment and administrative costs for the investor’s account and appropriately paid by the investor;
    • usually only applies to managed funds (and in the current environment, usually only when an investor deals directly at the retail level with the fund manager)
    • can also apply to insurance bonds and annuities
    • when applied through a Financial Planner, should be considered for offset against the initial advice fee
  • administration costs;
    • costs incurred at various levels, but providing custodial services for – and reporting to the investor, services that the investor should feel comfortable to be paying for;
    • accountants to compile the tax elements of income earned from investments (whether shares, managed funds, rental properties, or cash)
    • accountants to determine the consequences of capital transactions on sales (whether gains or losses) and the taxation implications of those amount;
    • investment platforms to attend to the above and provide a single report covering the activities for the financial year in a simple format
  • reporting costs;
    • investors seek or require various reports at various times each year: these reports are compiled from information made available from the managers of the various investments owned by the investors – and the costs can readily be seen to be properly those of the investor;
    • accountants to compile returns received from investments, determining the performance of the portfolio
    • alternatively financial planners to undertake any of the above roles
  • commissions;
    • usually payable where a direct transaction is undertaken by an investor using an agent or broker – acting at the investor’s direction but understood to be a cost of the product provider;
    • where the investor acts through and advisor who is doubling as an agent, clear understanding should be held as to the role the advisor is to take: as Financial Planners our firm usually rebates this revenue – often to offset against advice fees charged;
    • commission is paid by ‘the principal’ (the provider of the product) and is not separately charged to the investor (and in many situations, does not influence the price paid);
    • instances where commissions arise include direct share transactions, direct real estate transactions and insurance product sales
  • performance fees;
    • these fees are incurred when a portfolio is managed to prescribed expected outcomes, providing a bonus to the investment manager when the performance of the assets they manage exceed given levels: the fee is deducted from the earnings of the investment and is considered to be a cost to the investor, but only in situations where they benefit from higher returns – and are accepted as being an indirect cost of the investor;
    • they are most often found in a limited range of managed funds
    • some financial planners and brokers negotiate such fees with their investor clients (but this is not a practice of this firm)
  • volume bonus;
    • this revenue item flows to financial planners in some situations: it is paid when the volume of sales of a particular product or service exceeds pre-determined amounts: it is a cost incurred by the product/ service provider and not a direct cost of the investor;
    • these fees are usually associated with managed funds and flow to financial planners through their Dealer Groups and/ or managed funds directly;
    • newly-introduced legislation(March 2012) restricts circumstances where this fee can be passed to financial planners – it is yet to be seen whether this will reflect in savings for investors

Many of the fees from the latter group above, will be payable by an investor regardless of whether they use a Financial Planner or operate on a DIY basis: the difference is often that a Financial Planner can provide access to a more diversified portfolio because of their affiliation with various product providers – and in many cases, the additional costs are minimal because they are provided at a wholesale level rather than at retail charge.