If your budget is tight, but you feel like you could do with some guidance on managing your debt, investing, KiwiSaver, insurance or other aspects of managing your money, there may be ways you can get financial advice for free.
Remember, though, regardless of whether or not you’re paying for the financial advice you receive, it’s important to carefully consider where the advice is coming from and whether it’s suitable for you.
It may help to ask questions such as:
- Who is giving you the financial advice?
- What qualifications do they have?
- Are they licensed and qualified to offer advice in the specific area you need help with?
- If they aren’t charging you, how are they making money?
Free Financial Advice in NZ: A Guide on Where To Find It. In this article, we cover:
- What is financial advice?
- Where can I get free financial advice?
- Mortgage brokers
- KiwiSaver advice
- What are some possible advantages of free financial advice?
- What to look out for with free financial advice
What is financial advice?
Financial advice is a service offered by qualified and licensed professionals. It’s designed to help individuals and families plan their finances and make important decisions about their money. People who get financial advice may seek help in areas such as budgeting, investing, retirement planning and insurance.
When looking for advice about your finances, it’s important to distinguish between general and personal advice. Anyone offering ‘general advice’ is typically providing information to help people understand financial products, processes and guidelines at a general level. Importantly, this kind of advice does not take into account an individual’s personal circumstances. Although organisations and individuals must still be licensed to offer general advice.
If you are looking for personalised advice for your specific circumstances and financial needs, you should consider a financial planner or adviser licensed to give ‘personal advice’. These tailored services may be provided over the phone, via video call or in person and can often come with a fee attached.
You can find more detailed information the specific types of registered financial advisor on the Financial Markets Authority’s website.
Where can I get free financial advice?
If you’re looking for free financial advice, there are several possible options that may be appropriate. Your choice will depend on your life stage, the product or area you need help with and the urgency of your situation. There are also some key potential issues to be aware of when receiving free advice from these sources.
Moneytalks free helpline
You can contact MoneyTalks, a free financial helpline set up by the government for advice and support from trained financial mentors. MoneyTalks can also connect you with services in your community. Freephone: 0800 345 123.
Face-to-face help from a financial mentor
You can get face-to-face help with your household and personal finances in NZ from a financial mentor (sometimes known as a budget advisor). A financial mentor can help you:
- Deal with your immediate money problems
- Support you to complete a Financial Plan of Action to help you achieve your goals
- Negotiate reduced payments
- Find other people who may be able to help
There’s a directory of financial services govt.nz points to provided by the family services directory. These services are generally aimed at those experiencing financial difficulties. For example, those struggling with debt, who need information and support. In some circumstances, financial counsellors may negotiate directly with your creditors if you are struggling with repayments.
The government’s www.sorted.org.nz is a good general resource. It’s an independent online money management guide. It’s full of information to help you manage your personal finances throughout different points of life, and is packed with useful tips.
National Building Financial Capability Charitable Trust
The national directory of budgeting services from FinCap helps with finding a free local budget service. There are plenty of budget advice services spread all over the country. These budgeting services specialise in debt management, and have access to resources and support throughout the community.
Citizen’s Advice Bureau
If you can’t find a budget service available close by, you can always contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for contacts in your area. Some Citizen’s Advice services offer budgeting advice, too. And even if they don’t, they’ll know the community organisations in your area that do.
Some people looking for guidance around the home buying process seek the assistance of a mortgage broker. Generally, mortgage brokers do not charge for advising their clients. However, as with some financial advisers, they typically make money by earning a commission from the financial institutions whose products they recommend.
It’s important to remember this when assessing a mortgage broker and any options they present to you. Some mortgage brokers may not offer their clients a full range of home loan options. They may have arrangements in place to sell only some providers’ products. So it’s worth doing your own research to ensure you’re comparing as many home loan options as possible.
Your fund provider should be able to offer you solid KiwiSaver advice, and answer any questions. Tell your provider what your plans are for the future. For example, when you hope to retire or if you want to use your funds for a first home. This way, they’ll be able to tailor advice to suit you.
The quality of the responses and advice you receive will, of course, depend on your provider. Some providers offer fantastic advice services. Have a search of what your provider offers.
KiwiSaver is a personal investment, so it’s up to you to learn about your options. Have a good hunt around and start by checking out Canstar’s guides:
- KiwiSaver: Which Fund Type Is Right For Me?
- Switching KiwiSaver Providers or Funds? What to Think About
- Sort Out Your KiwiSaver in 2021: A How-To Guide
- Keeping Track of Your KiwiSaver Balance & Contributions
From there, compare KiwiSaver providers using Canstar’s comparison tools. They’re helpful and free to use. Our latest report also highlights the best-value providers and schemes on the market. Just click below:
What are some possible advantages of free financial advice?
One obvious answer is the cost-effectiveness of free financial advice. However, in addition, certain free services – such as those provided by financial counsellors – may offer support that you wouldn’t necessarily receive from an adviser or planner who charges for their advice.
For example, a financial counsellor may refer you to other services, such as a gambling helpline, family support service, personal counselling or community legal centre. They may also help you understand whether you are eligible for government assistance, and assist with applications if you are.
What to look out for with free financial advice
Financial advisers and planners, although sometimes offering their services for free initially, often require further consultations for you to get the full benefits of the service. For example, they may specialise in planning and developing long-term financial goals and mapping your progress over time.
Additionally, advisers and brokers who are ‘free’ to consumers are typically still paid by commission, meaning they may earn money based on the specific financial services or products they sell on behalf of other companies or, in some cases, their own company. This could potentially influence the advice they give to customers. So bear this in mind, and try to ensure that any products you choose are suitable for your needs.
One of the possible alternatives, although usually not free, is an independent financial adviser, who is not allowed to earn commissions for products recommended to clients.
Finally, it can be a good idea to be aware of the qualifications of the person providing you with financial advice, regardless of whether it’s a free or paid service.
Consider enquiring about your adviser’s education and qualifications. You can check whether any business or individual is a registered adviser online at the Financial Service Providers Register website.