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Peter Switzer, financial commentator and founder of Switzer Financial Services, admits there are some dodgy dealers out there.

“Yeah, I know that financial planners don’t have good enough reputations, especially in light of the Storm Financial failure and others such as Westpoint, where dumb or criminal advisers mislead their clients so they could pocket big, hidden commissions,” says Switzer.

“But I believe the vast number of advisers are decent people, who want to do the right thing for their clients. That’s how we operate at Switzer Financial Services and that’s a fact.” 

Is the price right?

One issue causing grief in the world of a financial planning is pricing – that is, what financial planners charge and how they charge it.

“Some advisers have taken commissions and other payments from financial institutions and haven’t been as transparent about what they do,” says Switzer.

“This can lead to product selection for clients that could mean the interests of the adviser came before the client’s.”

Switzer calls for total transparency and nothing less.

“Others charge percentage-based fees and while this is okay if the dollars charged is clearly specified to a client, it can lead to over-charging. That’s why I say transparency about what the adviser receives and what the client actually pays is crucial.”

To draw up a decent plan takes anywhere between 10 and 15 hours, sometimes more for complex situations.

“There is a lot of work and responsibility with a financial plan,” says Switzer. “Plans generally should cost between $3000 and $5000 and they are not tax deductible, which is something the Federal Government should change. Your first visit to an accountant is tax deductible.”

After the initial plan, ongoing advice is tax deductable.

Questions to ask

So what sort of advice do you need to seek? Switzer says while some people need ongoing help while others don’t, but a first plan should be considered as it could answer key questions such as:

  • Should I be saving more for retirement?
  • Could I have a better super strategy?
  • Should I have investment properties?
  • Am I working the tax system to my advantage?
  • Should I pay off my house quickly or should I get into super salary sacrifice?
  • How can I plan for my children’s education expenses?
  • Can I use borrowing to quicken up my wealth building?
  • What estate planning do I need?
  • And how should I invest my money between all of the competing assets out there, which help to build wealth?

Take a punt

It’s important to remember that while financial advisors have insights working in the investment game, but there’s always a degree of punting when it comes to investment.

“That’s why many advisers play it conservatively, relying on historically good performing funds. But this approach doesn’t always work out, as the last market crash showed,” explains Switzer.

“An adviser’s biggest gift to clients comes with answering the questions above. To secure great returns for 20 years but to be over-taxed because you don’t know the ins and outs of the tax system could cost you a packet.”

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How to get more from your rental property

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Five investment advice areas for a strong financial foundation

04 August 2010 - Investment advice is important – nay crucial – if you want to play ball in the finance game. Financial... read more >

Creating wealth with no wealth

28 July 2010 - I’ve been to an investment seminar where the benefits of being a collector of properties were shown to me.... read more >

Gen Y should I invest?

27 July 2010 - At 21, I am just starting to become interested in my finances. I have an income of nearly $1400 per fortnight and a... read more >

10 tips to researching property

26 July 2010 - We are buying our first home and want to get it right. We are married and our first child will be born over... read more >

Time in the market, rather than timing the market

23 July 2010 - I have been watching your program on Sky News Business Channel after starting a self-managed super fund. I have been... read more >

Battling through property

22 July 2010 - I have recently heard of so-called “battlers” buying lots of houses and I’m wondering how they fund... read more >

Is the reward worth the risk?

20 July 2010 - What do you think of XYZ (name deleted for legal reasons), which is offering nine per cent on fixed deposits? I... read more >

Will fixed deposits yield greater returns?

16 July 2010 - I am sick of the stock market going up and down and lately I have learnt that most financial planners work out their... read more >

Getting into gear in the new financial year

15 July 2010 - I have been advised that I should become a landlord and buy a property to rent out, as I don’t have the cash... read more >

Too good to be true?

14 July 2010 - Could you please help? I’m looking at investing in the Bundaberg area in Queensland, through a company called... read more >

Gambling on Telstra

05 July 2010 - Against all better judgement, I put all of my meagre savings into Telstra. Should I hang on for a bit? I've been with... read more >

Investment advice can assist

29 June 2010 - Investment advice is a way of ensuring your money works for you. Advice in this area can mean the difference between... read more >

How do yield curves indicate a recession?

25 June 2010 - I was watching a US business program and the expert being interviewed said he was confident that the stock market... read more >

ETFs and ETCs – the war of the acronyms

18 June 2010 - I keep hearing about ETFs and ETCs and wonder what are they and what’s the difference? And why are they so... read more >

Home ownership – an easy way?

16 June 2010 - I have been trying to save the deposit to buy a house but I am finding it too hard because price rises seem to knock... read more >

Superannuation – the questions you should ask

15 June 2010 - Superannuation should be a major part of every person’s working life. It’s one of the main ways in which... read more >

Can I predict the future value of shares? Technically, yes.

10 June 2010 - I keep hearing experts on the stock market talking about how technical analysis says it could be risky to be buying... read more >

Can I profit from short-covering rallies?

03 June 2010 - I keep hearing commentators on business shows like yours on Sky Business talk about short-covering rallies. I thought... read more >

Are ETFs a viable one-stop share shop?

28 May 2010 - I have been someone who has bought shares on a hunch or following reading an article in a newspaper and I have done... read more >

How do reverse mortgages work?

28 April 2010 - My Mum has a nice house but is really, as they say, asset rich but cash poor. She is close to 70 and has no super and... read more >

Banks vs mortgage brokers

21 April 2010 - I read that the Big Four banks are making just about all of the home loans in the country nowadays, so why should I... read more >

What is lenders mortgage insurance?

14 April 2010 - I am borrowing for my first home and we have been told we have to have lenders mortgage insurance. What is it? And... read more >

Share strategies

01 April 2010 - One of the weekend newspapers gave a list of 20 shares that five different experts recommended. So I was thinking... read more >

What are hedge funds?

22 March 2010 - A friend of mine has invested with a hedge fund and has done very well but I am not sure about how safe they are.... read more >

Property investment – your questions answered

16 March 2010 - Property investment can be a tricky topic. To make it easier, Peter Switzer answers some common questions. How to... read more >

What is Lenders Mortgage Insurance?

10 March 2010 - I am borrowing for my first home and we have been told we have to have Lenders Mortgage Insurance. What is it? And... read more >

Starting a business in tough times

01 March 2010 - I’ve just started a business in one of the most challenging times imaginable. It’s a car hire business... read more >

Money news – keep up to stay ahead

26 February 2010 - Money news can comes with the tag of just being plain ‘boring’, but there is nothing boring about... read more >

The magic of compound interest

23 February 2010 - I heard you talking to an elderly economist on your television program called Don Stammer who kept talking about the... read more >

Wealth building – how to save for a house

22 February 2010 - I am 22 years of age and want to build up my wealth to buy a house by the time I am 30 years of age. I received... read more >

Portfolio builder

18 February 2010 - I want to build a portfolio but I don’t know how to do it. Should I go to a full-service broker or a discount... read more >

Beware one-stop shops

17 February 2010 - I recently went to a property investment evening and from what I saw, there is a right way and a wrong way to buy an... read more >

Investment advice – get it right to grow your wealth

15 February 2010 - Investment advice – when it comes to your money, it’s crucial to ensure you’re getting the right... read more >

Weighing up the options

10 February 2010 - I have been advised that a good way to buy shares is to do it with a company with options. Could you explain what... read more >

CFDs explained

04 February 2010 - A friend of mine has talked me into CFDs and I have a $40,000 exposure to them. What do you think about them? CFD... read more >

Cheap shares, good dividends?

28 January 2010 - I have been reading that companies with good dividends are the ones that I should be adding to my portfolio. Some are... read more >

Comparison rates explained

27 January 2010 - A while ago, a major bank ran an ad for a fixed interest rate loan at 4.99 per cent for three years. Beside the 4.99... read more >

Comparison rates explained

27 January 2010 - A while ago, a major bank ran an ad for a fixed interest rate loan at 4.99 per cent for three years. Beside the 4.99... read more >

ETFs explained

22 January 2010 - I keep hearing about ETFs as being good for small or novice investors. What are they and are they safe? An Exchange... read more >

Is interest only in my interest?

20 January 2010 - I’m finding the recent interest rate rises a bit harrowing and have heard that you can access a product called... read more >

Borrowing money to buy shares

14 January 2010 - I could not believe my ears when someone told me that you can borrow to buy shares. As it seems as though it is... read more >

Switzer’s favourite investment

05 January 2010 - I’m starting to build up my wealth and I read your column all the time. While you talk about many different... read more >

How much can I borrow?

17 December 2009 - I am thinking about borrowing to buy my first house and I do have some credit card debt and a car loan but I have a... read more >

New to the stock market – is now the right time to buy shares?

17 December 2009 - I have never been in the stock market before and I am wondering if you think this is the right time to invest in the... read more >

Is margin lending for shares safe?

17 December 2009 - I’ve heard about people making a lot of money using margin loans in the past, but the share price falls... read more >

Investment properties - the interest only option

16 December 2009 - I’m buying my first investment rental property. I’ve heard from friends that it may be advantageous to... read more >

Investment properties - the interest only option

16 December 2009 - I’m buying my first investment rental property. I’ve heard from friends that it may be advantageous to... read more >

What are hedge funds?

11 December 2009 - I am confused about hedge funds as they have attracted a lot of bad press but other money commentators say they... read more >

Home loan research

09 December 2009 - I am trying to find a great home loan and I presume you have to go the bank as a starting point but I don’t... read more >

Mind your Ps and Es

08 December 2009 - I keep reading about and hearing financial commentators and brokers talking about P/Es for shares and it always seems... read more >

What is a comparison rate?

03 December 2009 - Recently a major bank ran an ad for a fixed interest rate loan at 4.99 per cent for three years. Beside the 4.99 per... read more >

Reverse mortgages

02 December 2009 - My mother owns a nice home, but is short of cash. My brother and I want her to enjoy her life and some of my friends... read more >

Property traps

20 November 2009 - I went to a property seminar where the organisers put on a pretty interesting show and made promises that they could... read more >

How to reduce your mortgage

18 November 2009 - People keep telling me that paying off your home is very tax-effective and with interest rates rising all the time, I... read more >

Endowment warrants

11 November 2009 - Q. What are endowment warrants and is it a good time to think about investing in these?   A. In simple terms you... read more >

Understanding P/E ratios

29 October 2009 - Q. I keep reading about and hearing financial commentators and brokers talking about P/Es for shares and it always... read more >

Should I jump into the share market?

26 October 2009 - Q. Every day when I get up and see that the stock market is up again, I think I have missed the boat with this rally.... read more >

Q&A - Have I missed the boat?

19 October 2009 - Q. What is your view on the stock market? I am 25-years-old and have missed out on the current rally and wonder is it... read more >

Q&A - Margin loans made simple

09 October 2009 - Q. Lots of people got into trouble with the crash of the stock market last year because they had margin loans, or so... read more >

Q&A - Margin loans made simple

09 October 2009 - Q. Lots of people got into trouble with the crash of the stock market last year because they had margin loans, or so... read more >

Q&A - Borrowing to buy shares

06 October 2009 - Q. I could not believe my ears when someone told me that you can borrow to buy shares. As it seems as though it is... read more >

More competition in the mortgage market required, say non-bank lenders

02 October 2009 - The big four banks cry poor, but it’s the smaller financial institutions who have been stuck for funding and... read more >

Dollar dazzlers

01 October 2009 - The Aussie Dollar hit a fresh 13-month high this week boosted by a positive investor sentiment and following signs... read more >

Q&A – Help with ETFs

28 September 2009 - My wife and I would like to invest in the share market in the near future and I have seen guests on your show discuss... read more >

Q&A - Home loan interest rates

25 September 2009 - Everyone seems to be saying that home loan interest rates are going up and to expect a rate of 7% or more. Is this a... read more >

Q&A - Finding the right home loan

24 September 2009 - Q. I am trying to find a great home loan and I presume you have to go the bank as a starting point but I don’t... read more >

Q&A - Low rate home loans

21 September 2009 - Q. I have come across a Bankwest home loan that is capped for three years at 7.5%. It also starts at 5.4% and I am... read more >

Q&A - Short selling made simple

14 September 2009 - Short selling – please, please – in simple terms. I am new to the market and it’s a little... read more >

Q&A - Home loans

08 September 2009 - Q. I read that the Big Four banks are making just about all of the home loans in the country nowadays, so why should... read more >

Q&A - Home loans

08 September 2009 - Q. I read that the Big Four banks are making just about all of the home loans in the country nowadays, so why should... read more >

Safety in numbers

07 September 2009 - Is there such a thing as a guarantee for your investments? While capital protection sounds like a pretty good idea,... read more >

Q&A - Options

07 September 2009 - Q. I have been advised that a good way to buy shares is to do it with a company with options. Could you explain... read more >

Top picks and value investments

02 September 2009 - Corporate reporting season is well and truly underway and market watchers have been broadly pleased with the latest... read more >

Q&A: Lenders Mortgage Insurance

28 August 2009 - Q. I am borrowing for my first home and we have been told we have to have Lenders Mortgage Insurance. What is it?... read more >

Q&A - What is the best way to trade?

26 August 2009 - What is the best way to FX TRADE? Is GFT the best broker? Your question is interestingly simply, but scares me a bit.... read more >

The new investors

15 August 2009 - With the economic recovery, there are a growing number of investors looking for places to put their cash. So what... read more >

Investing in property

14 August 2009 - Bill Meehan, managing director of Certain Wealth Group, joins Peter Switzer on his Sky News Business Channel program... read more >

Companies of the future

12 August 2009 - Shares expert Simon Bond, partner at ABN AMRO Morgans and expert on returns to help Peter Switzer... read more >

Trading strategies

12 August 2009 - Peter Switzer talks trading strategies with money market and interest rate expert David Bassanese. On the agenda is... read more >

Moving Houses

12 August 2009 - With a slew of housing data released recently, some of which came in a little worse than economists expected, people... read more >

Q&A - Investing in bonds

07 August 2009 - Q. I keep hearing that investors should have exposure to bonds but I don’t know much about them and how you can... read more >

Picking stocks

03 August 2009 - There are many nice things about having your own television show but the one I like best of all is that you can ask... read more >


03 August 2009 - Q. A friend of mine has talked me into CFDs and I have a $40,000 exposure to them. What do you think about them?... read more >

Top 10 picks for your portfolio

30 July 2009 - Every investor wants to build the hardest working portfolio possible, but how should they go about it? To find out,... read more >

To fix or not to fix? Australia's top interest rate expert says not

23 July 2009 - To fix or not to fix? It seems to be the question on lips across the nation, with fresh fuel thrown on the fire by... read more >

Switzer's rich guide

18 July 2009 - The first question you have to ask yourself is: “Do I want to get wealthy?” I don’t mean Frank Lowy... read more >

Q&A - Investments

15 July 2009 - I would like to invest some money in the stock market. I often hear many people recommending investing in the top 100... read more >

Can you handle the truth?

23 June 2009 -  Can you handle the truth? My Christmas gift is the suggestion of a New Year’s resolution that will change... read more >

Lowest interest rate since The Beatles

09 June 2009 - Help! The last time official interest rates were down this low, the cool generation of the time was debating whether... read more >

Home sweet home

22 April 2009 - If we ‘numbercrunched’ 40 years of working and contributed say 15% of your income to superannuation and... read more >

The advice advantage

02 April 2009 - Recently a bank asked me to explain what the Federal Government was doing for small business in these... read more >

Mr Interest Rates

24 March 2009 - Another bad day at the office for Australian home loan borrowers with inflation shooting to 4.3 per cent and... read more >

Avoid the R-word

05 March 2009 - read more >

The ten commandments

31 January 2009 - With markets spooking many of us nowadays, the right question to ask yourself is: am I doing everything absolutely... read more >

That's punting for you

03 January 2009 - I know it’s akin to a mortal sin to preach against the virtues of punting, being so close to the racing section... read more >

How do you get rich?

15 November 2008 -  As the stock market’s ups and downs affects the upward march of the Aussie dollar, and investors ponder... read more >

Property plus

13 November 2008 - It is at times like these, when shares are so attractive that every expert, including the galah at the local pet... read more >

Home loan punters beware

03 November 2008 - Go they’re racing but the finish line we all should care about won’t be just after three in the afternoon... read more >

Keen to be beaten

28 October 2008 - When I started railing against interest rate rises late last year, the guy I pulled out to wave at authorities was... read more >

Economic lateral thinking

15 October 2008 - The Malcolm Turnbull demand for banks to pass on the full interest rate cut has been criticised for being... read more >

Inside the lone wolf's head

10 September 2008 - With interest rates now giving into gravity and question marks over the severity of the local economic slowdown, it... read more >

Cut before we fall

08 August 2008 - This week the Reserve Bank gambled that the current level of interest rate pressure won’t force the entire... read more >

Mortgage bonds - to try or not to try?

29 July 2008 - A few weeks back I did something I never thought possible - I defended the banks’ relentless interest rate... read more >

Cheese and chalk

11 July 2008 - The best news out this week was the fact that there is a big a difference between cheese and chalk. And no - I have... read more >

Pick the perfect portfolio

26 June 2008 - With hedge funds prowling around to undermine the share price of even solid companies such as Fairfax Media and... read more >

Is your planner on the ball?

12 June 2008 - At a time when financial stocks have been trashed on the stock market and banks are having trouble attracting... read more >

Company of experts

08 April 2008 - It’s times like these when share prices are sliding and interest rates are rising and expected to hit into... read more >

How do you pick your stocks?

13 March 2008 - With the stock market making monkeys out of experts and the new valuations for popular shares making many comment... read more >

Brace yourself

29 February 2008 - Brace yourself for the interest rate rise we don’t have to have next week. The time, quite ironically, is now... read more >

What the doctor ordered

14 February 2008 - With 11 interest rate rises heaped on Aussie home loan borrowers since the rate rising cycle has begun, it is... read more >

Water Torture

08 February 2008 - One of the most disturbing aspects of the interest rate rise on Tuesday was the tone of the delivery, which carried... read more >

That sinking feeling

06 February 2008 - What was the Reserve Bank Governor, Glenn Stevens, thinking of when he and his board supported another interest rate... read more >

Build your wealth to last

05 February 2008 - January has been a month to remember for a whole lot of the wrong reasons, but times like these serve as reminders to... read more >

The biggest winner

05 February 2008 - With the rest of the western world contemplating a near future of interest rate cuts, Australia has headed in the... read more >

Your major investment

12 December 2007 - If there’s one problem that has captured the attention of money professionals and amateurs alike, it’s... read more >

Signs the big bank shouldn't miss

30 November 2007 - With poor old Aussie home loan borrowers looking at another first of the month interest rate Wednesday, the good news... read more >

Do-it-yourself plan

08 November 2007 - It’s times like these when our hip pockets are about to be hit by another bout of home loan interest rate... read more >

Switzer's list

09 October 2007 -  An extraordinary list of potential risks are hovering around investment markets at a time when the major... read more >

Thinking of an investment property?

03 October 2007 - A colleague recently told me he was planning on buying an investment property in Queensland in what might be called... read more >

To fix or not to fix

24 August 2007 - With the stock market starting to look like it has gone positive again, it’s time for stretched home borrowers... read more >

Long investing

01 November 2006 - The average Australian is kissing goodbye to a minimum of half a million dollars in retirement by simply living with... read more >

Switzer shares secrets

01 November 2006 - British funny man, Mitch Murray, once made the memorable observation that what this company needs today are fewer... read more >

Let's think positive

01 October 2006 - All investments need to be scrutinised, numbers wise, before your hard-earned money is slipped into a great idea.... read more >

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