Q&A: Questions to Ask to Find a Good Financial Advisor

If you’re in the market for a financial advisor, there are plenty to choose from that cater to any financial situation. Here are some common questions to ask when looking for the right financial advisor for you.

Find the Best Financial Advisor - SMSF Mate

Financial advisors can help you plan for retirement, minimise risk and help you achieve your financial wealth over the long term. They can also help with things like setting up an SMSF, help with investment management, help you with your budgeting, assist with having the right insurance and provide guidance on estate planning. Exactly which financial advisor you choose will depend mainly on your age, goals and financial position.

Working with a financial advisor who is a good fit for your financial situation is very important. Making the right choice from the beginning will ensure you get the services you need and not pay for the things that you don’t. We at SMSF Mate think that the following steps can help you in your quest to find the right financial advisor for your needs.

There are many different iterations of financial advisors to consider. Just like a business can have a brick and mortar shop front or be entirely online, financial advisors are very similar. Services can range from online advisors to local independent firms, to national financial planning organisations.

What are Robo Financial Advisors?

A Robo financial advisor offers a straightforward and cost-effective way to manage your investments. Generally, you will start by providing your details and completing a comprehensive survey about your personal circumstances and financial position, goals and risk tolerance which the advisor will use to build a profile and investment portfolio for you.

- The Small Business Owner (early 60s)

The term ‘robo advisor’ means that there is minimal human intervention in the financial advice process, and the digital financial advice given is usually systemised with a quantitative or mathematical process.

- The Thrill-seeker (late-20s)

Robo financial advisors are a decent option for investors who are new to financial markets, as they have low fees compared to full-service advisors and no minimum portfolio size so any investor can use them.

- The Marketing Executive (mid-30s)

Is it worth considering online financial advisor services?

An online financial advisor offers a virtual way to connect to a financial advisor and provides an additional level of consultation to what the Robo financial advisor services offer. In terms of investment management, it may be very similar to the Robo financial advisor services, but with the added ability to discuss the process with a real person if you have any questions or concerns which a lot of people value.

- The Accountant (semi-retired)

A full-service online financial advisor will generally offer everything that a more traditional financial advisor would but without the ability to visit them face to face. You will typically have a dedicated person to work with you to achieve your financial goals.

- The Small Business Owner (early 60s)

How about traditional financial advisors?

Traditional financial advisors are the most common and well known in the financial advice space. They provide the highest levels of service and offer a tailored approach to managing your financial needs and investments. Generally, all this additional service comes at a higher price and sometimes there are minimum balance amounts as well, which might be $200,000 or more in assets. If you’re looking for a highly qualified and specialised service, then a traditional advisor is likely the best bet.

- The Marketing Executive (mid-30s)

A traditional financial advisor can offer some level of comfort when the markets aren’t going in your favour, which is another reason why you might want to consider this option when there is real money on the line. Investors tend not to worry about their investments when they appreciate in value, but when the direction changes, you might want to have a chat with someone in person.

- The Small Business Owner (early 60s)

How should I determine what level of service I need?

If all you are looking for is assistance with managing your investments and you have a portfolio or balance than $100,000 or less, then a Robo or Online financial advisor is an excellent way to go. Both these financial advisor types are a great entry point as they usually have no account minimums to get started.

- The Thrill-seeker (late-20s)

If your financial position is a little more advanced and you need full-service financial advice on several topics like investment management, estate planning, tax strategies and insurance then a traditional financial advisor is a likely choice for you. As you would expect, the higher the level of service, the more expensive the solution becomes, but the cost is always relative to performance.

- The Accountant (semi-retired)

What costs do I need to consider for financial advice?

In most cases, there a few different cost structures you’re likely to encounter when deciding on your financial advisor with Robo financial advisors coming in at the cheapest by charging a management fee as a percentage of your account balance. These can be as low as 0.2% of your account balance and up to around 0.5%.

- The Small Business Owner (early 60s)

Online financial advisors are in a similar boat to their Robo counterparts, charging a management fee on your account balance, but they may also charge a flat fee or a fee for service on top of that. They typically cost 1% of your account balance per year. There can be an annual fee, and this can vary depending on how complicated your financial situation is and how much work you need doing.

- The Marketing Executive (mid-30s)

Traditional financial advisors charge a fee of around 1.5% of your account balance for an average size account of $200,000, but they will vary depending on the overall account balance and the work involved. Financial advisors will often sharpen their pencil with regards to the management fee for larger accounts. Still, they may also charge an annual fee, hourly fee or a retainer in conjunction with the management fee.

- The Accountant (semi-retired)

General Advice Warning

Ashwin Ramdas

Eventum Consulting

Ashwin is an accountant and educator based in Perth, Western Australia. He is passionate about helping family owned businesses and startups. He is one of the founders of SMSF Mate and you’ll regularly see him on our podcast!

Ashwin is a managing owner and director of Eventum Consulting, a multidisciplinary firm helping clients with finance, succession planning and their tax needs. He also served as a lecturer in taxation and small business at the Central Institute of Technology, and has worked as an accountant at a number of well-known tax specialists.

Ashwin studied a Diploma of Business Education and a Bachelor of Commerce in Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting and Corporate Finance, both at Curtin University, WA.

Ashwin is passionate about technology, and sees it as an enabler for his clients to grow truly sustainable and profitable businesses.

You can find out more about Ashwin or connect with him on Linkedin here:

Or visit his website here:

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Kind words from Aussies managing
their own self funded futures

  • SMSF Mate is a unique website because it has ideas about how to approach SMSFs, insurance and other financial topics that come straight from first hand experience. It's much more useful than what you find on all the other financial websites that just offer generic info that you could easily get on the ATO's website. It's also nice to know there's no financial incentive behind the information, it's legitimately there to help people understand self-managed super funds and how to get the most out of them, not to get an affiliate commission from a broker or other financial services provider. The investment product information is also incredibly useful, I've never seen this kind of functionality on any other website that let's you look at such a wide range of products, sort by what info is most interesting or important to you, and subscribe to updates for different funds and financial products all in one place. Definitely worth checking out if you own or are considering an SMSF!

    David G, Self-Employed, SMSF Owner
  • SMSF Mate provides a unique insight into superannuation and financial topics in a way that is easier to understand than conventional websites. The colloquial nature of the site makes it easy to understand and they often speak about complicated topics in lamens terms so I can wrap my head around them. The investment product information is a great way to research funds that I am interested in investing in with my SMSF and there is a lot of helpful information on the site for better structuring my investment portfolio. In comparison to other websites which offer similar information, SMSF Mate excels as the information is free to access whereas many other sites charge a subscription fee for the same thing. Overall, I think SMSF Mate is a great resource for SMSF trustees and is worth looking at for a variety of super-related topics. Thanks.

    Tim B, Business Owner, SMSF Trustee