Four Key Questions to Ask When Choosing a Financial Adviser
We’ve come across some very good and some very poor examples of financial advice and thought that it would be a good idea to set out for you just four key questions to ask when you are looking for a financial adviser
Are you and your firm regulated to provide the advice I need?
All firms representing themselves as providers of financial advice must be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This is something that is relatively easy to check by running a search for them on the FCA register. However, just checking that they are on the register is not sufficient as you need to check that the permissions the firm has are appropriate to your needs. For example, a firm that just has consumer credit and mortgage permissions will not be able to advise on pensions and investments. Beware of seeking help from unregulated firms because you will not have the protection of the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong.
You can find our registration here.
Are you an Independent or Restricted adviser?
Independent advisers have access to the whole of the marketplace. They must give due consideration to all available options and provide advice on all aspects of investment advice. On the other hand, Restricted advisers will be limited in the advice they can provide, either by the aspects they can advise on or by the range of providers products that are available to them.
The regulators require that advisers are either one or the other, there is no part Restricted, part Independent. Whilst all advisers have a responsibility to only advise on products that are suitable to ones needs, the ability to source the most suitable financial solutions from across all providers means that you are likely to get better value from Independent advice than the one-size-fits-all solution that many Restricted firms will offer.
Chilvester provides independent advice.
Are you suitably qualified and experienced?
Ask what the experience and qualifications of the adviser are, do not just assume. All regulated advisers are subject to minimum qualification levels and for straightforward mortgage, pension or investment advice, the minimum qualification may well be suitable. For more complex advice such as tax planning and trust work, complex pensions or more detailed investment work, then using a Chartered Financial Planner may be more suitable. Looking for firms with more than one adviser and with a range of in-house specialists to call on when required may be a good strategy to employ.
All of our advisers are qualified to at least the minimum standard, and many have further qualifications in their specialist areas. Our Chartered status means you only ever get expert support.
Will you agree fixed fees or are the advice charges contingent on a sale?
Sound financial planning is often about ensuring that existing arrangements remain suitable but advisory firms that only charge a percentage fee on the sale of a product will need to sell you something to earn. No sale-no fee is certainly not the way to go when it comes to financial advice. Fixed fees can be relatively affordable and it pays to shop around. Make sure that you get quotations in £ value rather than in percentage terms because it will be easier to compare charges and do not be embarrassed to ask for more clarity over potential charges if you do not understand.
Our initial advice fees are generally fixed and always agreed in advance, so you know exactly what you’re paying and will never be hit with a bill you weren’t expecting.