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Personal Finance

DIY vs asking an expert: Which is best?

Do you need a financial advisor or can you go it alone?

Bryan Hirsch




The Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act (FAIS) places all South African financial advisors into the same category and they can now be held accountable for any inappropriate or wrong advice given to their clients. Previously, before the demise of so many fraudulent investment schemes, it was very difficult for investors to bring a charge against either the institution or their financial advisor, as the legal costs could be prohibitive. It’s now much easier to do so, as financial advisory organisations are regulated and have compliance officers who deal with complaints. Complaints may also be referred to the FAIS Ombud who has the power to make awards in favour of clients, if he finds that the advisor has given inappropriate advice.

Under the new regulations all financial advisors have to write exams and can only be licensed if they have successfully passed. While I found having to write exams a little daunting as I hadn’t taken an exam since the 1960s, I recognise the importance for financial advisors to have their knowledge tested; after all, they are providing advice about their clients’ money.
The public needs to feel confident that their financial planner is accountable to them. There are different levels of licensing based on the ability of the financial planner. Each licence specifies the area in which the financial advisor may provide advice.

How does one choose a financial planner?

  • Experience and track record are crucial.
  • Are they an agent or a broker?
  • An agent can only transact business for one company and, while that company may have some top products, it’s unlikely that every product they have can compete, whereas a broker can shop around.
  • Capability is one thing, but compatibility between you and your financial planner is imperative.

The costs of using a financial planner

Life Assurance, Disability, Dreaded Disease
Commissions decrease as you get older, but policyholders under the age of 40 will pay 75% of the first year’s premium and one third in the second year. Every increase to the policy will result in a new policy with new commission payable.

Investment Policies
I would suggest that you pay no more than 1% as an upfront commission although many advisors will try to take the maximum allowable which is 3%. Ongoing fees should be between 0,5% and 1% depending on the amount invested. You can expect your advisor to meet with you regularly as they are earning ongoing fees. If you are not happy you can change your broker and the new broker will then start earning the fee that you were paying.

Future knowledge

You need to know how the financial planner keeps abreast of changes in legislation, changes in the industry and the depth of his product knowledge.

What can you expect from your financial planner?

  • How does he gather information about you? Is he asking the right questions in order to obtain all the information about your financial circumstances?
  • How will the information be analysed and what recommendations are made to meet your requirements and satisfy your long-term needs?
  • All recommendations should be in writing and all costs associated with the products recommended, clearly stated.
  • Has the financial advisor fully explained to you all the risks associated with any investment recommendation? It is very important for investors to understand as much as possible about risk and realise that there is an upside and a downside to any growth investment.

If you are dissatisfied with the service that you have received from your financial advisor, you can move to another without having to switch investments when you change your financial planner.

Can you be your Own Broker?

Can you be your own lawyer, accountant and doctor? Many individuals believe they can make their own decisions and don’t need help from a financial planner. The answer to this question depends on the following:

  • Time to do comprehensive research
  • Regular updates and changes happening in the industry
  • Training and knowledge
  • Experience

If you can answer yes to most of these questions, you certainly could be your own investment advisor and even buy life insurance, disability and dreaded disease insurance from direct insurers. In my experience, this often costs investors more than the fees they would have paid a broker.

BRYAN HIRSCH has been in the financial services industry for 47 years and is a director of Bryan Hirsch Colley & Associates. He has written two books, the first Bryan Hirsch’s Guide to Personal Finance and more recently, Steps to Financial Freedom. Bryan has written for many of South Africa’s top financial and business publications, has been a weekly guest on Radio SAFM for 18 years, and has his own weekly TV show You & Your Money on Summit TV.

Personal Finance

10 Tips To Become A Millionaire This Year

Becoming a millionaire requires changing your mindset and implementing some changes.

Murray Newlands



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Becoming a millionaire may seem out of your reach, but it’s possible with the right attitude and guidance. The fact of the matter is your income can only grow as quickly as you do, so you need to change your mindset to achieve your goal of becoming a millionaire.

Once you have a millionaire mind, you can’t lose it, no matter what financial or business mistakes you make along the way. To get yourself there, you’re going to need some structure. To help you, I’ve outlined the top ten tips you should follow to become a millionaire this year.

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Personal Finance

If You Think These 5 Things, You’ll Never Get Rich By The Time You’re 30

Five common mistakes entrepreneurs make when starting a business and how to correct them.



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Last week, I had lunch with a millennial who wanted some advice about a business he’s starting. After the usual small talk, we got down to discussing his business plan. Within a short time, it was clear that his business idea was great, his plan for executing was fairly solid and he had gathered together a strong team to help him make it happen.

So far, so good. But, to be frank, this guy has no chance of being successful with his current mentality. What it takes to be rich (or successful in any measure) has a lot more to do with your mindset than your ideas and plans.

From the time we started in business at the ripe ages of six and seven, our Grandpa Joe taught my brother Matthew and me many lessons about the details of running a profitable business. Over the years, we learned about how to create a business plan; how to market our products and services; and how to take care of customers, vendors and employees. All this knowledge has been invaluable to us in creating and running successful businesses. But, what our grandfather taught us about attitude and mindset trumps all other lessons.

Without calling out the specific individual I spoke with recently, below are five “hypothetical” attitudes that will get you nowhere in your journey to success – and the attitudes that should replace them.

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Personal Finance

5 Habits That Lead To Millionaire Business Success

You need the right habits if you’re going to succeed.

Timothy Sykes




What do all millionaire businesspeople have in common? Well, a lot of things.

I found from a recent study that 80 percent of all millionaires still go to work every single day. They’re working people just like me. But, they have to keep themselves in work or it all grinds to a halt. So what are the habits you need to make your business a success?

1. Patience

Nothing is ever going to come easy. You can look at the likes of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, as well as the other usual suspects, to realize that success didn’t come with their first venture. Many of them failed time and time again. It took patience for them to become successful.

I read an article recently about 36-year-old teacher Andrew Hallam who became a self-made millionaire on a teaching salary. But, in his spare time he invested smart and lived frugally.

It proves you don’t have to inherit lots of money or become an instant success to make a millionaire business.

Related: 4 Ways To Become A Millionaire Even When You Start With Little

2. Dedication

You have to be dedicated to your craft if you’re going to become successful. Going back to Bill Gates again, he started his business in the back of his garage. Now that’s dedication.

It’s what I tell all my students. If they’re not dedicated to this, then they should leave. You need to be able to push through the barren periods if you’re going to reach the oasis of success.

3. Ambition and big dreams

Have you ever heard the quote, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars”?

I take that to heart because even if you aim to become a billionaire and miss you still might be a millionaire many times over. Take the Wright Brothers as an example. Not content with creating a successful glider in 1902 they went on to create the world’s first airplane in 1903, making four brief flights in Kitty Hawk. It demonstrates the importance of dreaming big because you never know what you might achieve.

Related: 12 Millionaire Habits To Start Making Serious Money Soon And Build Wealth In A Hurry

4. Learn from mistakes

Every good businessperson will mess something up. It’s inevitable. What’s important is how you learn from your mistakes over time. Do you adapt after making your mistakes?

Millionaire businesspeople always set some time aside to reflect. Then they create a plan of action for ensuring that it doesn’t happen again. Most failed businesspeople put it down to “bad luck.”

5. Focus on niches

This important! Try to take over a whole industry at once and you’ll inevitably get swallowed up by the competition. Start small and control your own niche before moving into another niche. When you master your small area, you can push on and expand.

Related: 21 Choices Millionaires Make That You Aren’t Making But Should Be

You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to expand after you master your own niche/audience first.

Do you have what it takes? That’s the question I always ask novice businesspeople. You need a plan and you need the right habits if you’re going to succeed.

This article was originally posted here on

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