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You are not alone if you are small investor struggling to get professional guidance from an unbiased financial adviser.
Where not to go for advice:
Many advisers receive fees and commissions for signing the investor up to a managed fund. Those fees and the "trailing" commissions are often substantial and obviously have the potential to influence the advice you receive.
These advisers may suggest you switch your investments and their motivation may be as simple as the commission they collect when you do so.
This is a problem that is widely acknowledged in the industry because it reflects on ethical standards and the general integrity of the market place.
So where do I go for advice?
If you need advice, it is better that you go to a fee-for-service adviser who has no vested interest in recommending a particular fund.
The Financial Markets Authority provides a list of licensed financial advisers here. You can sort them by Name, City, Company or License Number. The New Zealand Companies office also has a facility here for finding an adviser. At the latter site you can access the address of the adviser and other details or go to Advanced search and use the "address keywords" field to find advisers in your area.
Check out two or three different advisers in your area first. Ascertain how they operate, how they charge and if they have commission relationships that may affect the advice they give you. Initially don't entrust too much to any one.
What can I expect of my adviser?
Firstly you should see if your prospective adviser can demonstrate long-term relationships with other clients. You should feel comfortable with an adviser and have a sense that they are with you.
At all times your adviser should act professionally and efficiently and talk to you in plain language. You should ensure you have a clear understanding of any investments they propose, including any alternatives they may canvas. You should be satisfied you understand the fees, risks and potential rewards. You should ask them if they derive any benefit whatsoever from putting you into a fund.
Agree in writing a plan of action. Agree in advance which funds are proposed. Then do your own research, get second opinions before committing and don't in any circumstances put all your eggs in one basket.
Remember that your accountant, lawyer or stockbroker may also be able to assist, even with a second opinion.
Is there a better way?
Probably not if you a novice investor. But if you have some experience and knowledge of managed funds, there is a lot to be said in favour of doing as much of your own research as possible. Even if it is only to confirm adviser recommendations or have them confirm yours. InvestoGain aims to point you in the right direction and equip you with the skills and understanding so that ultimately you are confident in selecting the right fund for yourself. So take the time to read and understand our webpages on managed funds.
And if I have a dispute?
Firstly try to resolve it with your adviser. All advisers are required to belong to an external dispute resolution service. That is so their clients have an avenue for redress when a dispute arises. There are three services in New Zealand: