If you have a strong background in finance and the urge to start your own business so you can help others properly manage their finances, then starting a financial consulting business could be a promising business venture for you. 

Whether you’re looking to help individuals plan their finances or aiming to aid organisations meet their financial goals – it’s important to set your financial consulting business up in a way that protects it. That way, your business can run securely while you give your expert financial advice to your clients. 

Keep reading to learn more about the legal aspects of starting a financial consulting business. 

What Is A Financial Consulting Business? 

Financial literacy is valuable knowledge. In essence, a financial consulting business uses their expertise on finances to provide catered and unique advice to their clients. Usually, the business will send out a financial advisor (this could be you or one of your employees) to understand the client’s situation.

What Does A Financial Advisor Do? 

Once a financial advisor has gotten to know the client, their circumstances and future goals, they’ll be able to properly advise them. Finance is a really broad industry, so your financial consulting business might specialise in one or two things – like investments and estate planning. Every financial consulting business is different however, their general aim is to leave their clients managing their finances more effectively than they were prior to engaging their services. 

How Do I Start A Financial Consulting Business? 

Starting a financial consulting business requires planning and making some important decisions, right from the beginning. The first thing you’ll need to consider is what kind of legal structure your business is going to have. Frequently, business owners tend to go for either a company structure or a sole trader business. The two are vastly different, so it’s important to properly understand them as it will determine your business’s legal protection and how it will be run. 

This is because a company is a legal entity on its own, whereas a sole trader business has no legal separation from you personally. As a result, a company will be able to offer more legal protection, even though the setup and upkeep process of a company is a little more complex. Getting the help of a legal expert when Setting Up Your Company is always a wise idea. 

A sole trader business on the other hand, can be set up in one sitting. As we noted though, you will be liable for the entirety of the business which can be risky. If something bad happens with your business, it will end up affecting you as well which isn’t the most ideal scenario. 

It’s important to understand the pros and cons of each legal structure, before you commit to one. You can read more about the different types of business structures here.  

Once you’ve determined the correct legal structure for your financial consulting business, you’ll be able to register it. 

Registering My  Financial Consulting Business

The registration for a sole trader and company are pretty different. We’ve broken down the general aspects of their registration process for you down below.  

Company: 

  • Figure out your company details, such as address, directors, shareholders
  • Decide how the company will be governed
  • Submit you application to ASIC and obtain an Australian Company Number (ACN)
  • Apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) online 
  • Apply for taxes
  • Ensure you’re all set to manage your ongoing obligations with ASIC

To learn more about setting up a company, read our step by step guide on incorporating a small business here.  

Sole trader: 

  • Work out the basic details for your business 
  • Go online and apply for an ABN
  • Register A Business Name (only if your using a name that’s different to you personal one)
  • Apply for any relevant taxes

As you can see, a sole trader set up is much simpler than a company one. However, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of both. Consider things like risk and liability before making a final choice. 

Are There Any Important Legal Documents I Need?

Yes! Keeping your financial consulting business safe requires getting the right legal documents drafted. Legal agreements can help secure your clients, prevent misunderstandings and limit your liabilities, so it’s one of the most important investments your business will make. 

A few legal agreements you might look into getting for your financial consultancy business include: 

Consultancy Agreement: A consultancy agreement is the contract you’ll sign with all your clients. It addresses matters like scope of work, payment, terms and conditions plus much more. This way, you’ll be able to start your professional relationship on the same page. 

Employment Contracts: When you hire employees to work for your financial consultancy business, it’s crucial to have an employment agreement in place. This way, both your employees and you know what you can expect from one another right from the start.   

Privacy Policy: Thinking of creating a website for your business? You might need a privacy policy. Every business that collects any kind of information for their website users or has an annual turnover of more than $3 million is legally required to have a privacy policy. 

Disclaimer: Every business has risk. At times, these risks can be managed with the right legal agreements. A disclaimer can let your clients  know about the risks, allowing you to limit your business’s lability. 

Can’t I Just Write These On My Own?

It might be tempting to just quickly draw up a legal agreement on your own or use an online template. After all, how hard could it be, right? The problem with getting these agreements done without professional help or simply using a standard template, is that they don’t take into account your unique circumstances. 

A legal expert will be able to identify exactly what needs to be covered in your legal agreements and ensure that it is properly addressed. When it’s done this way, you can be assured that your legal agreements are working in favour of your business rather than against it. 

Are There Any Laws I Need To Follow As A Financial Consulting Business? 

It’s essential to make sure your financial consulting business is legally compliant, to prevent it from running into unwanted trouble. Talking to a Regulatory Compliance Expert can help you better understand your legal obligations. 

Some of the main legal obligations you’ll need to look out for will be your responsibilities under Australian Consumer Law (ACL) as well as Data and Privacy regulations. Essentially, these laws require you to treat your clients a certain way and ensure their information remains secured. Moreover, ACL and privacy regulations can also work to protect your business- it’s always a good idea to learn more about them by getting in touch with a legal expert.

Next Steps 

When starting a financial consulting business, it’s important to secure your business by taking care of all the legal considerations. Getting a legal expert’s help can make this process much easier. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • Starting a financial consulting business requires a strong finance background and a desire to help others manage their finances effectively 
  • The business should be set up in a way that provides legal protection and security 
  • Financial consulting businesses offer tailored financial advice and aim to improve clients’ financial management 
  • Before starting, choose a legal structure for your business, such as a company or sole trader, with a full understanding of their pros and cons 
  • Register your business according to the chosen legal structure’s requirements 
  • Key legal documents needed for a financial consulting business include consultancy agreements, employment contracts, privacy policies and disclaimers 
  • Professional legal assistance is recommended when drafting legal agreements to address unique circumstances
  • Ensure compliance with Australian laws and regulations, including Australian Consumer Law and data privacy regulations
  • Seek guidance from regulatory compliance experts to understand and fulfil your legal obligations
  • Consider talking to legal experts to ensure your financial consulting business operates legally and securely

If you would like a consultation on starting a financial consulting business, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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