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Financial Advisors and Planning Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: May 26th, 2022

Ethical behaviors

Financial advisors are guided by several basic ethical behaviors and professional practices when carrying out their duties. The ultimate objective of these behaviors is to provide customers with a high-quality outcome that enhances the ethical and professional reputation of the financial advisers. The first behavior is integrity and professional conduct. Financial advisers should carry out their duties and responsibilities with high standards of personal and professional conduct, honesty, confidentiality, and ethics to meet the expectations of the clients. All activities carried out should not damage the reputation of the industry. The second ethical behavior is that the financial advisers should act in the best interest of the clients. This is based on the fact that the advisers owe the clients a duty of care. The third behavior is that the financial advisers should avoid conflicts of interest.

This can be achieved by putting the interest of the clients first. The fourth behavior is that a financial adviser should seek informed client consent. This can be achieved by fully educating and helping the clients to understand all the financial matters. The adviser should precisely and truthfully give the clients all information that may affect their current and future financial needs. Another ethical behavior is that the adviser needs to provide professional service that is associated with the situations and the agreements with the clients (Code Committee for Financial Advisers 1). This can be achieved by providing service levels that are appropriate for the clients. Finally, a financial adviser should always strive to provide a high standard of professional expertise. This can be achieved by maintaining and enhancing the knowledge base of all employees through continuous training.

The process of monitoring other financial advisers can be quite challenging. However, the advisers are expected to act in good faith and utmost good faith. Under good faith, the advisers are expected to be sincere and to have honest intentions irrespective of the outcome of their action. Therefore, when monitoring the advisers, it will be expected that they will act without mischievousness or desire to defraud the clients. Under utmost good faith, financial advisers are expected to give honest and accurate information to the clients. This should be carried out before entering into contracts with the clients. The first approach that can be used to monitor financial advisers is through periodic checkups. The check-up will ascertain if the advisers are free of red flags. Another way to monitor is to check for consistency in their work. Consistency is a strong foundation for creating and upholding trust with the clients. Further, the ability to communicate correct and accurate information should be reviewed. This can be achieved by evaluating the information they give to clients (Code Committee for Financial Advisers 1).

Information on sustainability policies, strategies and impacts on industry

This information can be obtained from various government agencies and other bodies that regulate the industry. Such agencies and regulatory bodies often give guidelines on the issues that must be complied with and the consequences of non-compliance (Australian Government 1; Warringal Council 1).

Steps for research on the statement of advice

A statement of advice is a means through which a financial planner communicates advice to a client. The statement explains and records the advice, reasons for the advice and the mode of implementation of the advice. Despite being tedious, there are steps that can be followed to undertake research for statement advice. First, the paraplanner should collect and analyze the information of the financial planner. The information collected needs to be complete and accurate to ensure that the statement of advice is flawless. The information can be collected through a formal meeting with a client. Other avenues for collecting information are through telephone discussions, letters, e-mails, fact finders, risk analysis of the clients, previous financial plans for the client, and original documents such as tax returns and wills. The information collected should be both financial and non-financial (Financial Ombudsman Service Limited 1). Examples of financial information that can be collected are assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses. Examples of non-financial information that will be collected are career aspirations, ethical perceptions, philosophies, size of family, relatives, marital status, age, and other important non-financial data. In most cases, clients are never willing to give personal information. Therefore, it will be important to verify the consistency of the information provided by the client. The paraplanner will need to carry out a comparison of all information available and sort it out with an intention of identifying any possibility of prejudice, inaccuracy, and incompleteness.

The next important step is risk profiling of the client. This step will entail measuring and identifying the client’s attitude towards risk. Especially, the paraplanner should focus on the idea of downside risk. Further, the assumed position is that all clients are risk disinclined and conservative unless they give a contrary opinion. Therefore, the paraplanner needs to discuss with the client their attitude to investing. Some of the factors that the paraplanner can take into account when coming up with the risk profile of the client are age, income, family, occupation, educational level, and health among other factors. At the end of this step, the paraplanner should be able to classify the client under one of the following risk attitudes: ultra-conservative, conservative, moderately-conservative, balanced, growth, and high growth.

The third step is to identify the client’s objectives. This can be achieved through the use of questionnaires, meeting with clients, and other possible ways. At this point, the paraplanner needs to ensure that the risk level of the client is consistent with the financial objectives and goals. In most cases, these three steps are always combined into one because they are interrelated. Further, the tasks can be completed within a period of 5-8 days depending on the availability of information (Financial Ombudsman Service Limited 1).

Financial investments and risk products

There are several types of financial investments that are available in the market. These investments can be broadly categorized into bonds, stock, and mutual funds. Bonds are securities that are based on debt. On the other hand, the purchase of equity grants investors a percentage of ownership in a company. A mutual fund comprises both stocks and bonds. The fourth category comprises alternative investments. These are other financial investments that do not fall in the three categories. Examples are options, future, gold, real estate, and exchange-traded funds among others. All financial investment products carry some elements of risks. The risk level of a product highly depends on an investor’s perception and risk tolerance among other factors. High risk is often associated with a high rate of return. Examples of risk products are equity-based investments, derivatives, equities and other marketable debts such as corporate debts. Finally, examples of products that can be used to manage risks are swaps, futures contracts, and options.

Product disclosure statement

The product disclosure statement will be for Macquarie Managed Portfolio Service (Australian Securities & Investment Commission 1). The content of this managed investment scheme is summarized below.

About the company

The entity was established in 1999 and it focuses on the provision of investment management services, custodial administration, and comprehensive reporting. The client base for a company currently stands at 800. Besides, it manages about $1 billion worth of investments. The company has a variety of model investment portfolios that are designed to meet the investment needs of clients (Macquarie Private Portfolio Management Limited 2).

How the Macquarie Managed Portfolio Service works

The client will be required to select a Model Portfolio from a list that will be provided by the investment manager. Currently, the institution has four investment managers. Then a Portfolio is established for the investor. The Portfolios selected are collected to form an account. Thereafter, investments are traded as required to show updates that are made to the Model Portfolio. Other factors that may affect the Portfolio activity are customizations that are made by the investor. Restrictions on withdrawals of funds can be imposed if an event that is outside the control of the entity occurs. Also, the frequency of dividends and other distributions will depend on the assets in the portfolio.

Benefits of investing in the portfolio

Significant benefits of this kind of investment are tax efficiency, ability to diversify, simplified fees, active and professional investment management of the portfolio, and ability to transfer security in and out of your account.

Risks of the scheme

The various Model Portfolios that are offered have different risk levels. The total risk depends on the combination of assets in the portfolio. For instance, assets that have long-term returns are likely to have low levels of short-term risks. Some of the risks of this investment are volatility in prices of the investment, the risk associated with the fact that the investment manager will not meet performance objectives, risks that are related to the inability of the responsible entity to meet operational and financial performance targets, risks that are associated with changes of laws. Others are implementation, portfolio customization, concentration, liquidity, credit, currency, leverage, derivative, and security-specific risks. Therefore, the investor should be informed that when they are making investments, then they are accepting to take the risks that are associated with the investment.

How your money is invested

The Managed Portfolio Scheme provides several Model Portfolios. The main categories of assets are international equities, property, Australian equities, cash, alternative investments, and fixed interest. Therefore, an investor can select one or more of the Model Portfolios that can meet their investment objectives. The scheme also takes into account diversification by providing multi-asset class Model Portfolios for the diverse level of risk.

Fees and costs

The fees and costs are charged based on the account. Further, the management costs also depend on the selected Model Portfolio. Management cost for this scheme ranges between 0.4% and 1.5% annually depending on each Model Portfolio.

How is the scheme taxed?

However, the separately managed fund will claim reduced input tax credits that it is entitled to under the goods and services tax laws. This is made in relation to the expenses of the separately managed fund. Some of the taxes that the investor may incur, depending on the nature of transactions, are capital gain tax, tax on income, tax on foreign investments, non-resident taxation, and goods and services tax (Macquarie Private Portfolio Management Limited 44).

How to apply

An investor can apply by filling out an application form and sending it to the specified postal address. Arising complaints can also be channeled through the same address. Further, cooling-off rights are not available to investments worth $500,000 or more. Investments that are less than $500,000 are entitled to the cooling-off period that lasts for 14 days (Macquarie Private Portfolio Management Limited 10). Besides, the amounts refunded may differ from the initial investment.

Works Cited

Australian Government. Environmental Sustainability. 2016. Web.

Australian Securities & Investment Commission. Regulatory Index – Managed Investment Schemes. 2016. Web.

Code Committee for Financial Advisers. Further Consultation on Code of Professional Conduct: The Final Exposure Draft of the Code Now Released. 2016. Web.

Financial Ombudsman Service Limited. Statements of Advice Must be Clear, Concise, and Effective. 2012. Web.

Macquarie Private Portfolio Management Limited. Product Disclosure Statement. 2014. Web.

Warringal Council. Financial Planning & Sustainability Policy. 2016. Web.

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