The adjectives good and limited in the context of personal advice don’t add up.

For example, it’s impossible to accurately assess a person’s retirement income needs without a complete picture of their financial situation including any debt they need to repay.

Outside of financial services, good and limited don’t go together either.

Nothing done by halves or half-hearted is good. Just ask your spouse, manager or personal trainer.

It may be good enough but is that the same thing?

Similarly, the expression half-baked is used to describe an idea or plan that is not fully thought through and lacking a sound basis. It is a metaphor based on undercooked cakes or bread, which are then uneatable and useless.

Personal financial advice is more important than cake (arguably), yet Treasury is hoping that product issuers will be able to provide good, limited advice.

In professional advice land, the foundation of good personal advice is a solid understanding of a person’s circumstances, needs and goals in order to determine the scope and complexity of advice they require.

Practically, that means asking a lot of questions and gathering client data.

When scoping a client’s advice needs, advisers typically start by asking them what they want to talk about. As part of the process, clients complete a comprehensive fact find questionnaire.

From this information, an adviser can conduct a financial needs analysis and identify a client’s total advice requirements.

When an adviser and client revisit the scope of advice, it is almost always much broader than what a client originally thought they needed.

People don’t know what they don’t know, which is why professional advice is so valuable.

Only then is an adviser in a position to form professional opinions, develop strategies and give good advice.