Revealed: the jobs of accountants, financial planners and financers

Money management can take on a number of different forms, but not everyone understands what they need, or the true benefits of getting expert help where it matters. 

In fact, a lack of understanding the world of financial services is one of the biggest barriers to every day Australians getting the right help.

Fundamentally, an expert in the areas of finance should be able to improve your financial situation in some way. But different people do different jobs. Here’s a simplified version for you:

Financial planners and advisors

Financial planning is the process of developing strategies to assist clients to manage their financial affairs so they can build wealth, be financially secure and enjoy life. 

This is an important plan for everyone, whether you are starting out in a career or a new business, building on your wealth or looking at options to move away from your work and enjoy your retirement. 

Good financial planning offers experienced, holistic advice on how to protect what you have, build on your wealth and leverage your income options through effective tax advice. But don’t confuse wealth management and tax advice with accountancy. Financial planning is all about the future. Accountants are the record keepers of the past.

Accountants measure the results of an organisation’s economic activity.  They do this by traditionally following the process of identifying, recording, measuring, classifying, verifying, summarising, interpreting and communicating financial information. 

Although these activities are the norm, your accountant should be so much more. A really great accountant should spend a significant amount of time to understand you, your business, your industry and your financial objectives to ensure you achieve the right outcome. 

Accountants use information about what has happened in the past, to paint a picture of your activity. And depending on what plans you have for the future, it’s important an accountant knows what picture to paint. 

It’s not simply about processing BAS and tax returns, but instead developing a strong relationship and being able to give you effective strategic advice are the keys to getting true value from your accountant.

A finance consultant or mortgage broker is a go-between between the borrower and the lender (usually a bank), who negotiates the loan on your behalf. 

They will do the legwork on researching products on the market from the hundreds available, and then support you through the application and settlement process. 

A good financer will also understand your individual needs, so they can recommend products that are going to work for you now and in the future. 

You want the right rates and the right terms to ensure you’re still getting the right deal on your borrowing well into the future. To do this, a financer must understand your overarching goals as an individual or a business, and know where your priorities lie. 

Ultimately, work with people you trust. Once you find the right people to help you with your money, you will notice the difference.