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Check your face

This article originally published in The Northern Daily Leader on 31 March 2012.

Exclusivity can be a real handbrake on your social life. There’s always a party or an event to which you’re not invited, a restaurant at which you’re never going to be able to make a booking, or shops at which the size of your credit card is never going to pass muster.

Some years ago a friend, lets call him Steve, told me of a night out he had planned at a new and exclusive nightclub. Primped and preened and dressed in his finest, he waited patiently in the queue and paid the cover charge to enter the club. But before he was allowed into the club proper, he was made to walk past a window, behind which sat one of the club employees – she was checking that people coming into the club had the right ‘face’. Unfortunately for Steven, his face didn’t make the grade and he was ushered through a side-door onto the street, given back his money and sent on his not-so merry way. I had heard of dress codes, but a ‘face code’ was new to me. Though I can see where some face control might be useful – no chance of ever having to bump into Sir Les Patterson while dining at Rockpool for example.

Fortunately financial advisers don’t follow a ‘face code’ (I hope!) – exclusivity should not be a barrier to receiving financial advice. Some advisers may charge more than others, but you shouldn’t be discriminated against based on the balance of your bank account. This is related to a question I am often asked: how much money do you need to have before you see a financial adviser? Many people think that there’s no use getting financial advice unless they have a spare couple hundred thousand dollars lying around. The truth is that you don’t need to have money to justify seeking out financial advice; you just need to be interested in making the most of your financial situation.

If you’re just starting out, financial advice can be useful in identifying some priorities – a savings plan, getting on top of the credit card, how to fund that first home or car. If you have a family and a mortgage, should you be focusing on the mortgage, the kid’s education or superannuation? And if you’re retired or close to retirement, how will you cover your living expenses, what should your money be invested in and what can you do to make it last? And if you are finding your social life needs a rev up, we even discuss financing whatever work is needed to get you past ‘face control’.