Christine and David Biddle at their home in Wahroonga. Picture: Christian Gilles
Christine and David Biddle at their home in Wahroonga. Picture: Christian Gilles

Aussies seek help as virus hits investment portfolio

David and Christine Biddle's investment portfolio has plunged amid the coronavirus pandemic and they're certainly not alone.

After years of frustration with their previous financial planner, the pair looked elsewhere for advice and are now relying on guidance to get them through this tough time.

"It just seemed they had taken their finger off the pulse," said Mr Biddle, 55, of his previous adviser.

"We didn't lose money but, if they had been a bit more proactive, we could have done better - we certainly missed some opportunities."

Mr Biddle said changing financial planners had given the couple greater peace of mind.

But since news of the pandemic broke their investment portfolio has dropped about 7 per cent.

Despite this, their current adviser has remained in constant contact reassuring them the longer-term outlook remains positive.

Missed opportunities caused by the failure to act when unsure about a piece of financial advice is something Financial Planning Association of Australia chief executive officer Dante De Gori would like more people to avoid.

Much like patients seek a second opinion if they are unsure about a medical diagnosis, Mr De Gori wants people to take greater control over their finances, particularly when receiving uncomfortable investment advice.

David and Christine Biddle. Picture: Christian Gilles
David and Christine Biddle. Picture: Christian Gilles

"I would rather people get another opinion than do nothing and not implement anything," he said.

"In many cases you're still seeking the same goals - it's just going about it in a different way."

He said widespread panic caused by coronavirus meant it was essential that investors sought professional advice to ensure they made the right financial decision.

"It is times like these where the strength of the financial planning profession needs to be leveraged," Mr De Gori said.

ITL Financial Planning director Nick Lloyd said poor communication, high fees and underperformance often led to dissatisfaction with a financial planner.

He said research showed that almost a quarter of Australians became disengaged with their adviser within the first three years.

Thirty-five per cent become dissatisfied within three to seven years, while 42 per cent looked to change their financial planner after seven years, Mr Lloyd said.

"It does happen a fair bit," he said.

"People don't feel they are getting the attention from their adviser that they deserve.

"Often they meet with the senior adviser and then, after a while, get palmed off to the junior adviser, which doesn't really give that warm and fuzzy feeling to clients."

Catapult Wealth financial planner Dale Martens said if an adviser failed to provide thorough updates and could not show how their advice would improve your situation, it was time to review the relationship.

"If … you're wondering whether you're in the right hands, speak to your adviser about your concerns and reset the service expectation," he said.

"If they don't lift their game it might be time to look for a new adviser, someone you feel comfortable with and who makes you feel like you are on a journey together, creating your personal financial future."

Originally published as Aussies seek help as virus hits investment portfolio