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Questions to ask a prospective financial adviser 

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With so many firms vying for your business, picking the right professional to manage your finances can be a daunting task. That’s why we’ve launched a mini-series on how to get the right advice.

In our first article, we explained the differences between the two most common types of money expert: wealth managers and financial advisers. If you missed it or want a refresh, you can find it here.

We then looked at the questions to ask a prospective wealth manager before you hire them. You can see that article here.

In this latest installment, we turn to the questions you should ask a potential financial adviser before you sign on the dotted line.

Richard Wazacz, chief executive of financial advice firm Octopus Wealth, reveals the most common questions he and his team get asked…

What exactly will you do – and what benefit will it bring?

‘Financial advice’ is a broad church. The exact services on offer can vary widely from planner to planner – and each will work in their own way.

Ask them to explain the way they work, what services they offer, and articulate the value that they think they can bring — not just financially, but intangibly, too (for example the time saving that their particular service could bring, or the reassurance of working with an individual you like and trust).

Bringing in an outsider to help manage your finances is a big and perhaps daunting step, and so it’s only right that you ask for clarity around how you’ll be better off at the end of it.

How do you like to work?

Life has a habit of getting in the way. Whether it’s because of your job, your social life, your family, or all of the above, you’ll probably be time poor and eager to find a service that works around your life.

You’ll no doubt have your own preferred way of communicating with a prospective adviser. It may be you want to meet them face-to-face. Or it could be you find it more convenient to have a quick chat over the phone or on Skype.

You might be someone who likes everything set down in paper – or instead, maybe you’re the type of person who prefers a more streamlined, online approach.

Whichever way, it’s important to work out how an adviser likes to work and decide whether that fits with your own needs. You shouldn’t have to compromise to access high-quality advice.

How much will it cost?

Time for the dreaded f-word: fees. It can sometimes be hard to do a cost comparison between advisers, as each may choose to charge in their own way.

But it’s important you know exactly how much you’ll be paying – in totality. If there are separate fees for different elements of the service, ask for a total cost, and make sure you understand exactly what it covers.

This is often broader than the cost for your adviser’s time or the products and services they select for you and could include costs levied by others – like any investment or pension providers.

You should also find out the cost of leaving: although you’d hope not to, you don’t want to be penalised for changing your mind.

And some important questions for you to answer…

Do I like the person I am sitting opposite? And do I think they understand my goals and objectives?

The best relationships are always built on mutual trust and involve both parties pulling in the same direction. If you think your adviser understands you and what you are trying to achieve, you could be on to a winner.

But the big takeaway? Seek the help of an adviser. At the end of the day, those who get financial advice will typically end up better off than those who don’t.

Click here for more on how financial advice could help you

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