Australians are still completely confused about who their financial advisers work for and whether they're truly independent- but help is on its way.
According to research from Roy Morgan, Australians continue to be confused about their financial planner's independence, particularly if they obtained their super through one of the "Big 6" planning groups.
It's even easier to be confused when the branding used by the financial planner is different to the branding of the company that actually owns them and that's increasingly the case as small advice practices come under the "umbrella" of bigger advice companies.
For example, Hillross is part of the AMP Group, Garvan is owned by NAB/MLC, RetireInvest by ANZ, Charter FP by AXA and the list goes on.
The Roy Morgan report found that Australians who acquire their super through financial planners are consued as to whether the planner is aligned to a major institution or independent.
"Adding to this concern is that planners aligned to the major wealth managers continue to funnel the majority of the funds they establish to their parent fund manager, a trend which is largely unchanged over the past three years."
The good news is that the Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) has decided to get serious about transforming financial planning into a true profession. It's just launched a $2 advertising campaign (funded by its members) aimed explaining the importance of using an FPA member and a Certified Financial Planner so you can be assured that the planner will act in your best interests.
Goverment reforms to be introduced in 2012 will also introduce a "best interests" rule to ensure planners have a legal obligation to put their client's interests first.
In the meatime, the latest issue of Your Money Magazine outlines how you can find good advice in the current marketplace. It explains what to look for in terms of experience and education and includes tips about how much you should expect to pay for advice. It's available in newsagents today.