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How to find a financial adviser who doesn't suck

A guide to choosing a good financial adviser for your money, in South Africa.
How to find a financial adviser who doesn't suck

At some point in your journey into badass grownup moneying, you’ll need to find yourself a financial adviser. In fact, if you’ve been browsing this site long enough to come across this post, then that’s probably a sign that you’re ready to give one a call.

Most people think you need to have a lot of money to see an adviser. This isn’t true at all. Sure, some dudes only work with wealthy okes who own wine farms, but many are perfectly interested in helping young people who are just starting out (it’s in their interests to establish a long-term relationship with you).

Like love, finding a good financial adviser ain’t easy. It might take you a decade before you find the money partner of your dreams. The good news is that, unlike the hellhole that is Tinder, dating financial advisers is pretty simple, because normally people don’t charge you anything for the first meeting. You should take full advantage of this. Meeting a bunch of different advisers is a great way to get multiple opinions about what you should be doing with your money.

How to find the financial adviser of your dreams

The best way to find an adviser is through word of mouth. If you don’t know who to ask for a recommendation, go chat about it on the League of Fucking Grownups Group and see if our rad Facebook community can help you out. If you really have no luck asking around, there’s an industry body called the Financial Planning Institute and they have a website where you can search for people in your area. Look for someone with a CFP qualification – they’re generally slightly better than others who are only registered with the Financial Services Board.

Do not go to your bank. Do not talk to an adviser who works for a specific company with their own products. These guys are salespeople. That’s not what you’re looking for.

Once you’ve found a few options, set up a first meeting and go suss them out. Here are the main things you are looking for:

  • They’re legit. (They’re registered with the Financial Services Board and preferably have the CFP designation.) This means they’ve passed exams to prove that they know what they’re talking about.
  • They’re independent. They don’t just sell products for one or two companies.
  • They’re smart and not an asshole.

Here are some questions I’d ask them:

  • What qualifications do you have?
  • How long have you been practising?
  • How do you make money? What proportion of your income comes from commissions and baked-in fees? Are you open to working on an explicit fee basis, where I pay you by the hour? (It’s okay if they don’t work like this, as long as they agree to be very clear and explicit with you about any baked-in fees they earn.)
  • Which companies’ products do you sell the most of? Why do you recommend them? Do you earn a commission from them? (If you hear something like ‘I’m an agent for Company X,’ run for the hills.)
  • What do you think about low-fee passive investing? (Look, there are good reasons to say that passive investing shouldn’t be your only strategy, but you should be sceptical of people who dismiss it completely).

Some specific recommendations

Look guys, I haven’t met every single financial adviser in the country so I can’t personally give you the Official Rankings of the Best Advisers in South Africa. I can tell you, though, that these are some people that I do personally vouch for, as in, I have actually met them in person, I know that they are properly qualified and appropriately independent, and I believe they sincerely care about their clients.

  • Lifecheq (DISCLAIMER: one of the founders is my bestie, but also I legit think they are awesome and very accessible). Lifecheq is based on Jozi and Cape Town.
  • Julian Brookstone (Julian is my own personal adviser; he’s based in Cape Town).
  • Galileo Capital
  • Fiscal
  • Verso
  • Creative CFO (particularly useful for entrepreneurs and people with really complicated tax lives)

Do you know of a really wonderful financial adviser who you think should be on this list? Get in touch and tell me about them. I’ll sit down with them, have a chat, and if I agree that they’re awesome, I’ll be happy to add them to this list.