Get some advice before you invest. You hear this often. Yet fewer than 20 per cent of Kiwis have a financial adviser, according to a survey by Kiwi Wealth.
Quite often authorised financial advisers (AFAs), who are the only professionals who can give personalised advice, don't even want to know you unless you're a high roller.
So what does financial advice cost and how can you access it if you don't have a lot of dough?
You must first of all understand what an "adviser" is.
There are two types of advisers who are regulated by the government. There are AFAs, who advise about investments, and registered financial advisers (RFAs), who give advice about simpler products such as mortgages and insurance.
Most Kiwis pay for their mortgage and insurance advice through commission. The RFA sells the client a product and gets paid a commission by the bank or insurance company.
Sometimes, says Katrina Shanks, chief executive at Financial Advice New Zealand, there are also annual "trail" commissions the adviser earns when your policy or mortgage rolls over.
It feels to the consumer like you're getting the advice for free. You're not. The commissions are loaded into your premiums and repayments. Having said that, if the advice helps you choose the right product and isn't conflicted by the adviser chasing commission then it's a win/win.
Some AFAs also make their money from commissions when they sell investments. They need wealthy clients to make this work.
Slowly, however, more and more AFAs are turning to upfront fees.
We Kiwis are legendary for not wanting to cough up cash up front for advice. Yet it's no different to going to the doctor or the accountant, both of whom you pay, says David Boyle head of sales and marketing at Mint Asset Management.
Some AFAs charge an initial fee for a complex financial plan, says Shanks. That might be $2000 to $5000. Others charge an implementation fee of up to 2 per cent of the funds invested. In these scenarios there are often on-going annual charges. It's quite normal, says Shanks, for that to be 0.8 per cent to 1.5 per cent of your investment portfolio.
Some advisers will charge hourly rates, which are often $150 to $250 per hour. A plan created this way can cost anywhere from $500 to $3500.
Boyle encourages anyone who isn't sure they're in the right KiwiSaver fund to spend a little money on getting advice. "You don't need a lot of time from an advice perspective to [choose the right fund]." It will almost always pay itself off when you're in the right fund.
More and more KiwiSaver providers such as ANZ have AFAs on the staff who can give individualised advice to customers.
Boyle, who previously worked in investor education, is in the process of working with advisers around the country to allow the "missing middle" of customers access to cost-effective advice.
It won't be long before Kiwis will be able to get personalised advice from a robot. Quite literally. The idea is that an algorithm can give advice tailored to an individual's needs. KiwiSaver providers Kiwi Wealth and Nikko AM are already offering robo advice for their products.
At Nikko's Goalsgetter.co.nz website, for example, the robot runs investors through a financial planning questionnaire to give basic tailored advice.
In the future there will be robo advisers that can suggest more than simply one company's product. It costs money to set up these platforms and there will be a cost to the customer. It's arguable whether a robo-advice platform can pick up the cues that a human adviser might in person, however.
Finally there are other places to get "advice" about your money. For example, if you need help with debt, budget advisers and organisations such as Christians Against Poverty and credit unions can help. Their assistance is free and if you're willing to work with them, quite far reaching.