Capsule x AMP
We de-bunk a few myths surrounding financial advisers including who should see one, when you should see one and how they can actually help you get ahead, even in these crazy times. Kelly Bertrand, with a little help from AMP, delves into how she can begin her own financial freedom journey.
There comes a time in everyone’s life where they realise they really need to get their financial situation sorted. I’m not meaning the ‘omg I’m so poor’ as you chug down another Aperol Spritz on a Sunday afternoon at an overpriced bar while you contemplate starting a side hustle featuring your feet, or mentally figuring out how long a pack of noodles will last until your pay day.
I’m talking about that time in your life where everything happens at once, or you look in the mirror and realise that you’re sick of the instability and worry and want a plan to not only survive but thrive as you take the next steps in your life.
Mine arrived like a freight train about a month ago when I realised that my fiancé and I have a looong wish list – wedding, house, baby etc – and a short time frame. Guess who’s not buying any Aperol any time soon?
Big life stuff happening at the same time in a cost-of-living crisis is a vibe post-pandemic us could have done without quite frankly, but as me and literally everyone else I know tries to figure out the best way forward, I knew it was time to put the big girl pants on and phone an adult.
And by that I mean a financial adviser.
Listening to one of my more responsible friends Edie who credits her personal financial adviser for helping her get ahead – not only into a house, but also an investment property – I knew it was time to enlist some help.
Like me, she works in the media industry (read: doesn’t make huge amounts of money) but unlike me and my shopping habit, Edie made some smart decisions earlier on in life, and is now looking at buying a second home as a long-term investment, thanks to the advice of a financial adviser.
“I had no idea that I could be doing better with my money,” she says. “It’s been such a helpful and reassuring thing for me to do. I’m not good with numbers and things, so having someone there to outsource it to, rather than spending all this time trying to figure it out, get stressed and then probably end up getting it wrong was invaluable.”
What is a financial adviser?
Great question – in my head it looks like a little numbers angel on my shoulder (who kind of looks like Miss Honey from Matilda holding a calculator, I don’t know why) calmly telling you what and what not to spend your money on. AMP’s Fiona Hunton, who manages a team of financial advisers at AMP, explains that it’s a little more than that – rather, a personal coach for your money.
“There are all sorts of different financial advisers that will look after a variety of things – insurance, investments, KiwiSaver – so it depends what your needs are, as to which one you talk to,” Fiona says.
Ok, so hand up on this side for the big one – getting into your first home. How can a financial adviser help?
“If we’re talking about getting into a first home, then KiwiSaver is the first port of call. KiwiSaver is there to help, so a financial adviser can help you set up or manage your KiwiSaver, and how you can get that money made available for you when you’re ready to purchase your first home ,” Fiona says.
“The key thing is that you’re in a fund that matches your risk appetite and aligns with when you need the money. The financial adviser will help you through that process. They start with asking some simple questions like “When are you wanting to purchase your first home?” – they’re not hard questions! – And those answers will enable your adviser to recommend a fund that suits your needs.
“We also help with other investments outside of KiwiSaver – and this doesn’t have to be a huge, or scary conversation. We’re there from the beginning and trust us, there’s no silly questions! It’s far more accessible and possible than a lot of people think.”
When should you see a financial adviser – and do you have to be rich?
Short answer – now, and no. I’ve always giggled a bit at the term ‘wealth management’ because I always took it to mean that you actually needed some kind of wealth to even start and unless those investments I’ve made in Instant Kiwi come through, then I’m firmly out of that realm.
Turns out I was more wrong about that than I was about the scratchies (and trust me, that was very wrong). Instead of the classic Kiwi mentality of the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, seeing a financial adviser to begin growing your wealth is super encouraged, and it’s far more accessible than you think. At AMP, it can even be free.
“Customers that we help join our AMP KiwiSaver Scheme or investment products, we don’t charge – our adviser service is free,” says Fiona.
And if you’re like me and you think a house or any other big expense is out of the question just by looking at your banking app, then you might be wrong. In fact, Fiona sees it all the time – a lot of people’s financial situations aren’t as ‘bad’ as they think.
“I hear it all the time, ’I can’t afford a house, I can’t afford a house’. Sometimes we need to remind people how lucky they are, and that they actually do have the means, you just have to give up something.”
Do you need a specific goal to see a financial adviser?
Does not having to live at my parents’ house count? In all seriousness though, no – you don’t need a specific financial goal in mind, apart from an overall better financial position.
“At AMP we focus on investments and general insurance, as well as KiwiSaver, so we can advise on all those product–advisersays Fiona.
Think of your finances like a little ecosystem – you have savings, investments, insurance, KiwiSaver – and it can be a lot, especially when you don’t really get taught how to manage personal finance at school (what do you have to say to THAT Pythagoras). It’s all the more reason to give the experts a bell, who will then figure out where your financial betterment journey begins.
Adds Fiona, “I didn’t get taught much about it in school either – but the one thing I was told when I was a teenager was to put a third of my money away for retirement , a third of my money for a rainy day and spend a third, and that’s always stuck with me. It’s a good simple ethos and if you can do that, then you’re in good stead.”
Edie says since first seeing her financial adviser 12 years ago, she’s been able to achieve a lot personally and financially, even during harder times.
“Look, it hasn’t been an easy thing, I’ve been living on a budget for 12 years but it’s all about your priorities. I could be on a much stricter budget, but I’m not prepared to sacrifice things like travel and eating out, and my budget factors that in. But it’s definitely helped me get ahead and being in a position to invest in more property probably wouldn’t have happened in the same way if I’d been doing it myself.
“After a few years of working with my financial adviser I took a big pay cut for a different job and even they were able to advise me and it absolutely still worked. It made me realise that oh, I CAN do this, and I’ll be ok. It relieves your mental load a lot.”
Want more information? Here’s some of the technical stuff from our pals at AMP:
- AMP have a range of tools on its website, available to anyone, to help people make more informed decisions around money – The Retirement Calculator tool, financial fitness check, tax rate checker, home and building insurance calculators and a ‘fund quiz’ to help recommend investments (guys I tried these out and they were FASCINATING). AMP members have access to MyAMP where they can view balances and recent transactions, see how their investments are performing, change funds, and make extra contributions.
- AMP advice teams also range in age from early 20s to about 55 years of age, with many different ethnicities represented. Customers can ask for advisers they can relate to (any hot messes in their 30s?). Once assigned to an adviser, customers can continue to work with the same person if they choose and will be given a phone number and email address for contact.
- Getting started is as simple as calling 0800 267 5494, or arranging an interview via www.amp.co.nz. Guess I’ll see you there!
AMP Wealth Management New Zealand Limited is the issuer and manager of the AMP KiwiSaver Scheme, AMP Managed Funds, AMP Investment Trust and New Zealand Retirement Trust. Each schemes Product Disclosure Statement is available at amp.co.nz/forms. Insurance (excluding travel) is underwritten by Vero Insurance New Zealand Limited. For more information see AMP’s website