Good financial advice shouldn't cost an arm and a leg

THE RIGHT ADVICE: Financial Advisors Martin Webb and Deirdre Samardzic along with assistant Sara Samardzic.
THE RIGHT ADVICE: Financial Advisors Martin Webb and Deirdre Samardzic along with assistant Sara Samardzic.

Story sponsored by Bridges Financial Services.

While the great Australian dream used to be owning your own home and having a family holiday once a year, for an increasing number of people the new dream is to retire one day without having to live in abject poverty.

A 2015 OECD Report found that more than one third or Australian seniors (36 percent) were living below the poverty line.

However, with smart financial planning it is possible to set yourself up in a position where you can maintain a comfortable lifestyle well into your twilight years.

But doing this isn't easy. You can't just throw your money around willy-nilly. You can't have it parked in a bank or bad investments and you can't play the stock market like it's a roulette table.

You need the right information, an understanding of calculated risk and a watchful eye on your finances to make sure they're not being eroded with management fees.

That's why local financial advisors Bridges Financial Services operate on a fee-for-service basis, to help people on low to middle incomes get their money working for them.

Between Martin Webb and Deirdre Samardzic, the pair has over half a century of experience with the financial services industry. Mr Webb has spent more than 35 years working both in the public and private sectors, while Mrs Samardzic has been in the industry since 2001.

If their experience as financial advisors has taught them nothing else, it's that your nest egg won't grow on it's own.

More importantly, you don't have to be a millionaire or a billionaire to make smart investments and see a tidy return. You just need to know how to do it.

Financial Advisor Deirdre Samardzic

Financial Advisor Deirdre Samardzic

"When we first decided to make the move to Katoomba, we decided to set up a service that average people - people that don't have a great deal of money - could use," Mrs Samardzic explained.

"Traditionally, people have needed to have money to make money but we've never thought that was fair. We've always thought, wouldn't it be great if ordinary people could learn how to do it instead," she continued.

"People shouldn't have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for good reliable financial advice. There are plenty of people in the Blue Mountains who are on low or moderate incomes who really need it...

"That's why we've created a fee-for-service model where you can come in periodically and your finances can have a 'health check-up'. We can have a look at your situation to make sure everything is on track and charge you a very reasonable, moderate fee."

While Bridges Financial Services does offer a retainer service - and there are some individuals and businesses that require ongoing, rigorous financial management - most people don't need it.

With industry super funds and long-term investments, Mrs Samardzic says, they only really need to be reviewed every 12 to 24 months. The main thing people need to understand is the risk involved with their investment.

There is no such thing as a risk free investment, Mr Webb adds, however you shouldn't be investing in anything that stands to lose more than you can afford to.

Likewise, if you want good quality investments, you need good quality research. Simply "playing the stock market" can be like reading the form guide or playing blackjack. It's a gamble.

Financial Advisor Martin Webb

Financial Advisor Martin Webb

"There's an old adage that says: 'It's not timing that makes you money in the markets, it's time in the markets'," Mr Webb said.

"The longer you have your money invested in good quality investments or a diversified split of good quality investments, the better you're going to do," he continued.

"You can never choose the perfect time to buy a stock or a share or a property trust because we don't know what is going to happen in the future...but if you stay invested long enough and ride out the ups and downs in the market cycle, in the long run, you're going to be better off."

There are three other fundamental mistakes a lot of Australians make when planning for their future, Mr Webb says.

One, is leaving their savings in a bank, where they're not generating much interest. Two, is having "all of their eggs in one basket" by investing heavily in property, which again isn't generating much of an income in retirement and can be significantly devalued if the market turns. And three, is being put into self managed super funds unnecessarily.

"Quite frankly, the majority of people that go into self managed super funds shouldn't have anything to do with them," Mr Webb explained.

"While there are some distinct benefits to them for some specific people who are in very specific circumstances, for the vast majority of people they're not appropriate," he continued.

"They're fabulous for people that want to be very hands on. They're great for people who have had a long history in financial services and people who have a really diversified asset base but if their not being watched very closely, it can lead to some wasted opportunities."

Mr Webb believes finding the right industry fund with the flexibility you require is far more productive for most people. This is especially true for young people.

All too often, people in their 20s and 30s don't even look at their super, which results in two decades of missed growth and opportunity.

Having control over your super can also allow you to "invest ethically", Mr Webb says, which is something that is very important to many millenials. However, if you turn a blind eye, you have no idea where your money is parked.

"You have to make sure you're touching base with your super because it is a long term investment. If you're in your 20s, you can't touch it for 40 more years," Mr Webb said

"You should have a knowledge of the superannuation system and why it's important and how it works from the day you start work because if you just let these things go then you've only got yourself to blame if you don't get the results you otherwise could have."

Bridges Financial Services also offers financial advice to young people about how to save, how to invest, how to get into the property market and how to build both equity and an investment portfolio.

For more information, contact Martin Webb or Deirdre Samardzic on (02) 4782 9603 or visit their website or see them in person at 69 Lurline St, Katoomba.

Story sponsored by Bridges Financial Services.