Financial advice has the power to change lives. Fiona Harris spoke to advisers who have made that happen.
Advisers are privy to the important financial details in their clients’ lives. They have a privileged position, often becoming a confidant to their clients, hearing about their greatest goals and fears and ultimate motivations. Close and personal information that their clients will often only share with them.
And in this context, the steps an adviser suggests the client take can make a huge difference in their future and the futures of their children.
Diamond Blue Financial Services senior financial adviser and risk specialist Dianna Pecherczyk says there are few other professionals who hear all the detail, the total picture if you will, of their client’s finances that includes their health, relationships and lifestyle goals.
“I don’t know who else you would share this information with. Not even your best friend would know all of it, and it’s not just talking about it, it’s then taking action.”
When the right cover makes a difference
Pecherczyk has seen first-hand the power of her advice. She has seen what the experience is for someone without insurance and what having insurance cover to claim on means to those going through trauma.
She noticed that a couple, that she had put into total and permanent disability, life and trauma insurance did not have income protection. It had been declined due to lifestyle reasons. Pecherczyk organised cover for the husband who was self-employed.
A year later the couple were involved in a car accident. The wife broke both her wrists and the husband broke his collarbone. Pecherczyk said it was only when her client called to ask for a copy of the insurance so they could claim car insurance, that she informed him she could make a claim on his income-protection policy too.
This was a great relief to the clients as both were unable to cook or clean, and for the husband who had mental-health problems from the physical injuries in the accident. With the help of an exercise physiologist he was able to get back to a good level of fitness.
“If he didn’t have income protection, he wouldn’t have had any relevant cover to claim against,” explains Pecherczyk.
Getting the right match: people, policy and timing
For other advisers such as Complete Risk Analysis chief executive officer Nettie Handley, good advice is about matching the right products with the right people at the right time.
Handley has had four similar claims stories in the past three years. One helped her client make a $1 million TPD and income insurance claim, giving him the financial peace of mind he needed as a sufferer of multiple sclerosis in his mid-50s.
To help her client, Handley had to take on an insurance company and an industry super fund, lodging complaints to the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal and hiring a specialist lawyer to take on the trustee. Her work was done pro bono.
“My client would have never have been able to pursue this if I wasn’t here to help them,” says Handley. “Who can afford to fight this sort of fight?”
The eligibility of her client’s automatic cover was under scrutiny which he had accessed when he joined the industry super fund in 2011.
Major problems arose when the insurer incorrectly applied the terms of the policy contract and the trustee accepted what the insurer told them. Both were incorrect.
“These clients did all the right things,” explains Handley. “Claim time is not the time to find out the insurer can argue there is a loophole to avoid payment.”
In this regard, advisers are highly valuable in navigating the system and using their knowledge of what clients are entitled to.
“Good advice is tuning into the needs of clients and having a good understanding of what is in the market.”
Keeping it simple so advice is understood
Ausure Financial Planning in Scone, rural NSW, likes to keep things simple so clients can understand the advice given and can see how it puts them in a better financial position.
Director Rob Baker says most people are generally on the right track, they just need to bring their super together or consolidate debt and ensure they have the right insurance in place.
“A large proportion of our clients don’t know where their super is invested, so we make people aware.”
This approach has changed clients' lives, including a recent $680,000 claim, and the $150,000 super consolidation Baker achieved for his client with Parkinson’s disease.
In his late 50s, Baker’s client lived in a top-floor apartment and was receiving a steady stream of medical bills. His client had originally asked Baker to consolidate his four super funds.
“He did not realise he had TPD insurance in each policy.”
Baker says one year later and after a lot of forms and hand holding, they achieved an amazing result for their client who has now paid off his mortgage and set up a pension account to establish a steady income stream. He now plans to buy a more accessible ground-floor apartment.
“Had he not come to an adviser, he would be in a poor situation,” says Baker. “We have changed this guy’s life.”
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