What’s the difference between an accountant and a financial adviser?

Answer

They offer different services 

When you think about an accountant, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the professional who helps you do your tax return each year and perhaps advises you on strategies to minimise the tax you pay or helps you with your business structure.

Financial advisers offer a different range of services. They’re more focused on helping you work out how to manage your money to build your wealth over the long term.

The two roles complement each other, rather than overlap, and it’s common for one to refer clients to the other.

They have different qualifications 

Financial adviser 

Financial advisers are required to complete relevant training, such as a diploma of financial planning, to meet the minimum requirements of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) Regulatory Guide 146.

Many also have tertiary qualifications, complete further training or have designations through professional industry associations such as the Financial Planning Association of Australia. They need to complete a minimum level of ongoing training each year. 

Accountant

Accountants generally require an undergraduate degree to practice and many have undertaken further study and training specific to their role through industry associations such as CPA Australia. Like financial advisers, accountants need to maintain their knowledge with ongoing training each year.

When you may want to speak to a financial adviser 

A financial adviser can generally guide you on investing, super and retirement, insurance, and managing your cashflow and debts.

They can also help you set goals for the future and tailor a plan to help you achieve them. For more information on exploring your financial goals, check out our Goals 360 experience.

How to choose a financial adviser 

You can use our find an adviser tool to work out a shortlist of advisers in your area. You can find information about their qualifications, training, professional memberships, where they’ve worked and what areas they can advise you on, using ASIC’s Moneysmart financial advisers register.

It’s a good idea to interview your shortlist of advisers before making a final decision. After all, you want to be working with someone you like and trust. 

Tip

  • When looking for either an accountant or financial adviser, look for membership of an industry association, such as the Financial Planning Association or CPA Australia, as most associations require their members to participate in ongoing training, adhere to a code of conduct and have a mechanism for handling complaints.

Important information

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© AMP Life Limited. This provides general information and hasn't taken your circumstances into account. It's important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what's right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.