If you’re uncertain what’s best for your savings, investments and pensions, it might be a good idea to consult a professional financial adviser but finding one can be a challenge.
How do I find a financial adviser and how much do they cost?
There are over 5,000 firms and around 26,000 individual advisers in the UK* so how do you go about finding one that’s right for you? There’s no short cut but here are ten simple pointers to help you:
1. Try asking family and friends for recommendations.
2. Visit www.unbiased.co.uk for a list of authorised financial advisers in your area.
3. Check out websites and any reviews and testimonials.
4. Pick a shortlist of 3-5 that appeal to you most and check they’re authorised with the Financial Conduct Authority before you go any further.
5. Arrange a telephone appointment when you can outline your situation and discuss how they might help you.
6. Arrange a face to face appointment. Ideally visit their offices so you can get a sense of their company culture. Anything too flash might ring alarm bells but anything too grubby might suggest they’re not particularly popular or successful. You want to find some middle ground.
7. Ask them how they make their money. Is it on an hourly fee basis or a percentage of the money invested? Or both? Are they paid commission by fund managers on certain funds? The average hourly fee is £150 according to the Money Advice Service (now part of Money and Pensions Service).
8. Find out which particular adviser would be allocated to you. Check that they’re professionally qualified. You want a minimum of Diploma or Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning and ideally a Chartered or Certified Financial Planner.
9. Find out what you get for your money and how and when you start paying.
10. Don’t be afraid to walk away if they don’t feel right for you. It’s important to find someone you get along with, that you can trust to give good advice and help you make the most of your money.
Most advisers will offer a free consultation which is your chance to get to know them and it’s their chance to understand your personal circumstances and your financial objectives. They’ll want to do a full fact find to understand where you are with pensions, savings and investments, mortgages, insurance and debt. This enables them to provide a report outlining their recommendations. Don’t be afraid to challenge their thinking and ask for further explanation if you need it. If you’re not convinced, don’t go any further. It’s not the time to be making mistakes.
Here are some things you should look for:
• Honesty and integrity
• Openness and transparency
• Professionalism, knowledge and experience
Above all else, look for someone you can trust and get along with. Good financial planning is a long-term business.
*As at November 2017