Good financial advice has always been a tricky thing to find. Banks just try to sell their own products, while independent advisers may offer unsuitable products that benefit them via large commissions. So ask yourself a few choice questions and you’ll be able to steer your way through the jungle of financial advice, products and numbers.
Do You Really Need Advice?
Or just information? If you simply need to know which companies offer the best savings or products, then you will be able to find the information out for yourself through individual websites or comparison sites. However, if you feel like you need help or don’t have any time to go trawling round the web, then seeking financial advice will be the right thing for you to do. Seeking advice also means that you have someone to complain to if the product you have been sold turns out not to be what you expected.
Who Do You Go To?
As well as having many different titles for what is essentially the same job, there are also different variations on the adviser role, from wealth managers to mortgage brokers. So how do you find the right one for you?
Think about what type of help you need. Do you want to review the entire of your finances or advice on a specific issue, such as pension transfer or investments? In the latter case you need to speak to companies such as Pensions & Wealth Management Services Ltd.
If you need specific help, look for the appropriate qualifications. If your query is tax related, then you’ll need to talk to a qualified accountant. Always look for an independent adviser as opposed to a tied agent or a multi-tied agent, as they can look at the whole market rather than just a select few. For an overhaul of your finances, a financial planner will approach your finances as a whole.
Make sure they are regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) so that you know they are trustworthy, and so you can report them if necessary.
How Do You Want To Pay?
Independent advisers will either charge through commission or a fee. A commission may cause a conflict of interest for the adviser, as some products may earn more income for them than others. This is why from 2013 the only way that advisers will be able to charge is through a fee, but make sure that the charge is explained from the outset regardless so you know exactly what to expect.
Know What You Want
Doing a bit of research, figuring out your financial goals and how you think you’ll achieve them will help focus you and your adviser.
Find Someone You Trust
Most advisers will offer a free initial consultation, so you’ll be able to shop around and find someone that you trust and willing to take advice from- there’s no use having an adviser if you don’t trust them. A good adviser will also keep in regular contact to make sure of your circumstances and that you’re happy with your finances.