Consumers urged to show caution when selecting adviser

Shine Lawyers has urged investors to take care when signing up to and seeking advice from financial planners to ensure they are client-focused.

The law firm has also recommended they seek help, if needed, from Brisbane-based complaints management service Financial Rescue.

Financial Rescue's managing director, Neil Kendall, said there are a few warning signs to look for when seeking advice.

"'Tick a box' objectives [do not] necessarily mean the financial planner is focusing on the client's goals; it suggests there is some sort of pre-determined outcome they're aiming for," Mr Kendall said.

Consumers, he said, tend not to read documentation and instead just accept a verbal discussion at face value, putting themselves at risk of receiving carelessly prepared advice.

"Avoid advisers who aren't interested in your goals - giving you a limited list of pre-written goals and objectives to choose from is often a warning sign of this," he said.

"Some advisors will suggest 'double gearing', which is borrowing against your house as security for a margin loan. This is not only expensive but extremely high risk; you don't want to end up losing your home."

If advisers recommend gearing then consumers should ensure they see evidence that costs are going to be less than an expected outcome.

This also applies to consumers with self-managed super funds, Mr Kendall warns.

"While self-managed super funds provide greater investment flexibility, they also lower the level of consumer protection so they are only suitable for experienced investors with larger amounts to invest," he said.

"We suggest you do a background check on your adviser. How long have they been licensed? Have they changed their licence a lot? Some unscrupulous advisers move from licensee to licensee to avoid being accountable. These details can be checked online at the ASIC website in their professional registers," he said.

Shine Lawyers also said there were several issues to consider when looking for a good financial planner.

"Consumers need to find someone who really listens to their personal circumstances and financial goals and then suggests services accordingly," senior solicitor Jan Saddler said. "One size rarely fits all when it comes to investment products or services.

"It's very important that the planner recommends financial products that suit your specific circumstances and your tolerance for risk. If you have any concerns, it is important to look for more information and ask lots of questions before signing anything."

This comes as Shine Lawyers confirms it is investigating claims against a Brisbane-based financial planner and Women's Investment Network (WIN) director Ms Janeece Norma Giraldo.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) banned Ms Giraldo from providing financial services for five years for failing to comply with numerous Australian financial services laws.

Ms Giraldo was employed as an authorised representative of Wealthsure Pty Ltd on 10 October 2008. From 1 December 2003 to 10 October 2008, she was an authorised representative of Securitor Financial Group Ltd.

She was found to have engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct between January 2006 and March 2011 in her role advising clients as a Director of WIN Financial.

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