What is financial planning/what does a financial adviser actually do?
We assist clients in bringing clarity to the various goals they have in life. Most goals have a financial element to them, and many of them are likely to remain a dream only unless specific planning is put in place. The relative priorities of various goals can be a balancing act, and we try to help flesh out the pros and cons for different courses of action. Please note that it is not our role to tell you what your goals “should” be; our role is to help you reach where you want to get to. However, there are often numerous issues that need to be considered in a holistic way, as some decisions can result in unintended consequences or side effects.
How much will it cost me to get professional advice?
This is a tricky question to answer fully, because every client situation, and what they might require from us, is so different. This is why we offer our initial consultation free of charge, so we can then determine what specific types of advice would be appropriate in each client’s situation. After that initial meeting, we provide an indication of what (if any) cost would be expected, and clients are then in a position to decide whether or not they wish to use our services.
Why, and how (at my stage of life) could I benefit from financial advice?
In our experience, nearly all people we have met have been able to benefit in some way from our discussions. Most clients actually state that they wish they had met with us much earlier in life! Some of the more common areas we provide assistance with, for the different general stages of life, are as follows:

Younger clients, starting out in life on their own.
Cash management (budgets and spending plans), savings to buy a house and/or OE, buying a home (mortgage advice), KiwiSaver and protecting their ability to earn income over the long term are all typical areas of discussion.

Clients starting a family and/or business.
All of the above, taking into account the possibility of reduced income coupled with increased expenses. Tax and estate planning often becomes more relevant at this stage of life, and it is helpful to have assistance in thinking through the different priorities that usually arise as a result of having other people dependant on you.

Clients that are in the situation where they are actively seeking to create more wealth.
All of the above, although we notice that clients in this category tend to take retirement planning much more seriously. Various types and strategies of investment are worth considering.

Clients in retirement, wanting to ensure their lifestyle is sustainable.
We are often asked to help determine whether a client’s resources will be sufficient for their lifetime, according to the specific lifestyle goals they may have. In addition, clients at this stage of life often ask us to help provide advice to their children/grandchildren as they are interested in their financial futures.

Please note that these comments and lifetime categories are very general in nature, which is why we recommend for people to obtain tailored professional advice for their unique circumstances.

I don’t earn mega dollars, so how can I plan for the future?
The reality is that we can only make plans based on the resources we have at our disposal. There are usually many efficiencies that people can take advantage of, that they aren’t even aware of. Our preference is to implement flexible plans which allow for changing circumstances throughout life. You don’t need to be earning mega dollars to benefit from seeing a financial planner.
Who controls my investments and how safe are they?
Pivotal Advisory does not operate a trust account, so clients do not invest in our company as such. We simply provide advice based on the client’s unique situations, and reporting/ongoing advice as required. If our recommendations include advice on investments, the clients are in full control of any decision making. Individual investments carry differing degrees of “safety” as determined by general market conditions outside our control. For example, savings accounts, term deposits, bonds, property, shares and managed funds all have different levels of safety. Incidentally, this is why it is important to get professional advice as we often find that people are not aware of the various risks they face.
Can the Government meddle with my KiwiSaver savings?
KiwiSaver is a retirement savings scheme that has very little to do with the Government. Invested monies are administered by non-Government providers, although there are some Government stipulated rules around the use and access to those funds. The Government can modify some aspects of KiwiSaver (such as the minimum contribution level, and the member tax credits given each year etc.), but the investment is in your name, and as such, is primarily controlled by you.