Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need financial advice?

If you could achieve your financial goals by simply putting money away in the bank, you wouldn’t need a financial plan. Unfortunately, life is a little more complex – it’s hard to understand the intricacies of investment, taxation and ever-changing regulations, so you need professional help.

Yet, many of us resist seeking advice, as if our financial future weren’t just as important as our health or our children’s education. We often decide to manage our financial affairs ourselves, or leave it to someone we know, perhaps an accountant or a solicitor, which is a bit like buying vegetables at the butchers. Financial planning is a specialist profession and you should make sure that you’re getting advice from a properly qualified person.

A financial planner will help you reach your goals; even if retirement may seem a lifetime away, the sooner you start planning the more likelihood you’ll have to achieve financial independence and peace of mind.

How much does financial planning cost?

Your first meeting is at our expense and obligation free.

As the first meeting is about ascertaining your financial goals, any relevant documents that you can provide will allow us to build a greater understanding and chart a course to reach them. We provide you a comprehensive and independent assessment of your current financial arrangements and work out a plan on how to get to where you want to be.

By law all financial planners must disclose all forms of payment and fees. The cost to you will depend on the complexity of your financial situation and plan, as well as the fee method the planner uses.

There are various ways to structure fees, and it typically starts with an initial fee to cover identifying your needs, developing a strategy and implementing the recommendations.

We are defined not as the cheapest, but based on the feedback we get from clients we do a fantastic job. As soon as we know the applicable fee, it will be clearly communicated to you so you can decide if you are going to proceed.

When is the right time to get financial advice?

Many people end up too scared to reach out to a financial planner for fear they don’t know enough, aren’t wealthy enough or will be told their goals aren’t attainable.

The truth is, it’s never too early or too late to seek financial advice. However, the sooner you create your financial roadmap, the sooner you can build the life you want, and live with better peace of mind for the present and future.

The team at NFPG have the expertise and the tools to add value to every life stage of our clients’ journeys; whether this being purchasing a first home, getting ready to start a family or later in life when you are preparing to retire or downsize your home.

Meeting with a financial planner is the first step to focusing on and understanding your financial situation, enabling you to start setting some goals to live the life you want.

I’ve previously seen a Financial Planner and had a poor experience. How do I know CAG is the right fit for me?

Unfortunately, not every relationship is a great match and you sometimes need to know when to walk away from a professional relationship.

A good rapport with your financial planner is essential. Your financial planner is going to know more about you than your accountant or doctor, as they will have details of your finances, medical history and family situation. If you can’t establish a good bond and a sense of trust early on in your first meeting with a financial planner, we are the first to recommend that you keep looking.

Our team of financial planners are passionate about delivering the best possible outcomes for their clients. Our key strengths are really listening to our clients’ desires, ambitions, goals and dreams to ensure that the plan we create together is one we mutually agree to and continue to develop over time.

Finally, as much as we try to find your perfect match from the outset, our large team means that you are welcome to meet with another financial planner at your request.

I’ve read many books and believe I can do it myself so why would I engage CAG to help me?

Whilst some people believe that they can self-manage their financial situation, the reality is that most do not have the specialised education and experience that a financial planner does.

The financial landscape is ever-changing and only getting more complex. When considering your financial plan you need to consider many components including taxation legislation, estate planning, Centrelink guidelines, superannuation regulations… and that is just the beginning!

Every financial planner at Newcastle Financial Planning Group holds a Diploma of financial planning qualification and maintains a level of ongoing education to ensure that we are up-to-date with the latest legislative changes.

In addition, our experience means that we hold an in-depth knowledge of a vast array of products available in the market and their associated pros/cons. We use our technical expertise to best match you to the product/s needed to your reach your goals. Finally, our wide-ranging network of external professionals provides us with additional resources outside of our industry that may be required to accomplish your financial planning requirements.

FPA research* has found that Australians who consult a financial planner feel happier, more positive about their financial wellbeing, and more optimistic about the future than those who don’t.

*Source: FPA Investment Trends research: Investment Trends 2014 Advice & Limited Advice Report

All financial planners just recommend direct shares and product. Why is CAG different?

It’s true – there are some Financial Planners in the industry that are product focused – but NFPG is not one of them. We are committed to forming lasting life-long relationships with our clients and supporting them through life’s up and downs.

At our first meeting, our goal is to understand what drives you and what makes you happy and get a complete picture of what it is you are trying to achieve and with what resources.

After meeting with your financial planner, if you decide to proceed with a plan; the NFPG technicians will get to work and utilise our technical skills and product knowledge. We complete the required research on your existing financial products, develop the most appropriate strategy (what’s in your best interest) and consider the most appropriate product selection.

Once your financial plan is implemented, we will then meet you on a regular basis to check-in with you, identify if/how your current circumstances have changed since your last plan and then adjust your strategy accordingly to ensure it is still working to achieve your goals.

Who can call themselves a financial planner?

Entrusting your finances in a professional is an important decision. The law allows a wide range of individuals to call themselves a ‘Financial Planner’ and provide financial advice in some shape or form. Those who can call themselves a ‘Financial Planner’ includes the following:

  • Product sales representatives
  • Life insurance brokers
  • Stock brokers
  • General insurance brokers
  • Mortgage brokers
  • Real estate agents
  • Financial information service (FIS) officers
  • Financial counsellors
  • Bank tellers
  • Accountants
  • Lawyers
  • Paraplanners
  • Business development managers (BDMs)
  • Client service representatives
  • Tax agents
  • Property developers
  • Auditors (especially those who deal with SMSFs).

Be wary of people who call themselves financial planners, but are not sufficiently professional or even qualified. Alarm bells should start ringing if you come across any of the following signs:

  • Doesn’t have professional license, qualifications or FPA membership
  • Doesn’t take time to learn about your individual circumstances, needs and goals
  • Is more interested in selling you a product than developing a strategy for you
  • Promises you the world (i.e. high returns and low risk) and tells you not to worry
  • Avoids questions and withholds information
  • The fees and charges are not clear or appear excessive.

What fees can be deducted from my account?

When reviewing their Superannuation and Investment Statements, many of our clients like to re-clarify what fees are being charged, why these fees are being charged and where these fees are being directed

The below is a list of some of the most common fees you may see on your statements and a brief explanation of what the fee is for, who charges the fee and who receives the payment. Please feel free to discuss this further with your Adviser should you have any queries specific to your accounts.

Platform or Account Fees

The below fees are charged directly by your Superannuation, Pension or Investment Account provider and are applied at an account level. These fees are not paid to your Financial Adviser or your underlying investment managers.

Administration Fee:

This fee is to cover the provider’s costs incurred to administer and/or operate your account and is deducted from your account balance on a regular or annual basis.

Switch Fee:

This is a fee that some providers charge every time you elect to move money from one investment option to another.

Exit Fee:

A fee payable to your provider at the time you withdraw funds from your account. This can be charged if you do a partial or a full withdrawal (i.e. close the account). This fee varies amongst providers but is usually a set dollar figure.

Investment Fees

The below fees are charged either by individual underlying investment managers or are incurred at the time a transaction takes place e.g. buying or selling. These fees are not paid to your Financial Adviser.

Investment Fees or Indirect Cost Ratio (ICR):

An investment fee or ICR is a fee each underlying managed fund provider charges to invest in their investment option. This fee is payable to the underlying managed fund provider. It is usually charged as a percentage i.e. 0.28% and is applied to your balance in that investment option only – not your entire account balance.

Buy/Sell Spread:

Most investment options, excluding listed securities and term deposits, have buy/sell spreads. This fee is to recover the transaction costs incurred in relation to the sale and purchase of assets within your account. This fee is built into the unit prices at time of purchase or sale.

Brokerage Fees:

When purchasing or selling listed securities, e.g. direct shares, brokerage fees will apply. These fees are an additional cost to you and are deducted from your account. The fee is either a percentage or set dollar figure and there is typically a standard minimum fee that is charged.

Adviser Fees

The below fees are charged by your Financial Adviser for the services they provide. The fees are deducted from your account and paid to the Financial Adviser’s Licensee who then pays your Adviser.

Member Advice Fee (Initial or Ad hoc):

This fee is generally charged to cover the costs an Adviser incurs when providing and/or implementing a Statement of Advice document. The fee is typically charged as a set one-off dollar amount deducted from your account.

Member Advice Fee (Ongoing):

This fee is charged to cover the costs incurred when providing the services outlined in your Ongoing Service Agreement. The fee can be charged as a percentage of your entire account balance or as a set dollar figure and is typically deducted from your account on a monthly basis.