One of my favourite pastimes each Saturday is reading the weekly column by Nikki Gemmell, in The Weekend Australian magazine. She writes about life and the lives of herself, her family and people she has known, and gently draws valuable lessons from them.

Last Saturday, she wrote about 2 people who had been high profile in their day, earning big money. However, their later years were nothing like their early years. The money ran out, their health deteriorated and they spent their last days in relative poverty.

That’s a story that we are likely to hear more of, as the population ages, but it is a problem that Financial Planners are well positioned to help you avoid.

The job of a Financial Planner is often seen as focussing on the sale of particular financial products, such as superannuation, shares, and life insurance. However, the job goes well beyond that. Under legislation, financial products must be sold in a way that aligns with your needs, circumstances, goals and objectives – and this expands the financial planner’s job well beyond that of just focussing on products.

There are times when the interaction with your financial planner is intense and high octane -  such as when you are doing detailed planning for your upcoming retirement, or arranging your insurance, superannuation and other matters to fit in with new found responsibilities of a mortgage, young children and school expenses. There are major issues to be addressed, and plans put in place.

However, plans have to be tracked, adhered to and adjusted over time, and this is where a good financial planner really earns his stripes - by looking over your shoulder, and making sure you are not going off the rails. Some system of regular contact is important.

This role is poorly understood, and the legal framework does not help, as the legislation is framed primarily around the sale of financial products – with the other stuff following along behind. The recent Royal Commission highlighted this point more than anything else. The egregious conduct it unearthed all focused on the mis-selling of financial products.

Anyway, back to the start. What does this have to do with Nikki Gemmell’s article? Simply, if those people had good financial planners, their final days should have been much better.