Two-and-half years, one pandemic, a slew of new regulations, a Level 5 qualification and more in… it’s been a busy journey working on behalf of New Zealand advisers.
About a year ago, I undertook the advice journey myself – a step that has given me the kind of understanding only advised clients can get. About the importance of trust and openness in the advice relationship, how quality advice is experienced by consumers, the somewhat expected and the totally unexpected benefits and much more.
These insights have been invaluable in driving forward with the vision we have for financial advice in New Zealand. Here are some key things I’ve learnt along the way.
Trying, challenging, uncertain, unprecedented, unexpected – there are a lot of words we can use to describe 2020, a year like no other in recent history, and certainly in our lifetimes.
COVID-19 has shown us that things can change extremely quickly, how frail financial security can be, and how important a recovery plan is. But just as this has highlighted the need for financial resilience, it has proven that if we act together, we’re not alone.
In fact, no-one has to go it alone. There’s help available, there are professional advisers working across all areas of financial advice, putting their knowledge and expertise at the service of New Zealanders from all walks of life. Here and now, and in the future, they have a crucial role in supporting their communities as they recover and rebuild.
My family’s experience with an adviser started last year before COVID-19, when we felt we needed to look at our financial situation. But if we hadn’t started it then, I’m sure this is what we would do today.
Before taking on my role at Financial Advice NZ, I hadn’t personally received any financial advice. So, I thought it was really important for me to understand how that looked and what it felt like from a client’s perspective.
As a relatively private person, what’s been eye-opening is the level of trust the relationship with an adviser entails, and how crucial trust is in achieving the outcomes I’m striving for.
I often say that my first meeting with my adviser was me talking about anything except my financial situation. I needed to ease into the conversation, before getting to the core of it. But that’s the point: Talking about your own financial circumstances is never just about money.
It’s about your hopes and dreams, your vulnerabilities and strengths, your ingrained habits and emotions. And it’s about committing to change, allowing a ‘professional outsider’ to guide you on a long-term path to financial health, wealth and wellbeing.
As our recent independent research ‘Trust in Advice’ shows, not only do New Zealanders trust financial advisers, but that trust is the foundation of any effective advice relationship. That’s also why we chose to name our new quality mark ‘Trusted Adviser’ – to embody the core values of quality financial advice.
Knowledge and guidance
Some people asked me why I hadn’t used a financial adviser before. I sometimes ask myself the same question, but the reality is, like many people, I thought I didn’t need it.
I consider myself quite competent. As a Chartered accountant by trade, I understand business and I thought I understood the ins and outs of my finances as well. But there was a lot I didn’t know, and now that I’ve taken financial advice, I realise just how invaluable that is in giving you a different perspective. It has totally transformed my life.
If you look at the environment advisers operate in, the financial advice sector has gone through massive change, so quickly. They have endured these changes, adapted and evolved their businesses to meet the requirements and fit the needs of their clients. The only thing that’s been constant is the good advice that each of them provide every day, with knowledge and skill.
What’s more, they offer invaluable guidance every step of the way. We all have busy lives and making time to focus on our financial goals isn’t always easy – especially when having to fill out lengthy insurance application forms or research the most appropriate KiwiSaver funds. Advisers are always there for their clients, just a phone call or email away, to keep them on track and motivated.
Before embarking on this journey, I hadn’t anticipated just how transformational it would have been.
Working with my own financial adviser has given me peace of mind and a thorough understanding of my financial position. It has provided me with a fresh perspective, and renewed motivation about the next stages of developing my financial health.
I can clearly see the difference this confidence can make to New Zealanders’ overall wellbeing. Personally, it makes feel more prepared for retirement, protected from the unexpected, and confident that my finances are well-structured – all of which has had a huge effect on my quality of life.
This is just the beginning of an ongoing journey for me, and in my capacity at Financial Advice NZ, I look forward to helping more and more Kiwis understand how invaluable it could be for them.