Is now the time for a financial adviser?
If one of your resolutions is to sit down with your paperwork and seek help from a financial adviser, here are the questions you should ask.
January is typically the busiest month for people to seek advice following the financial indulgences over the Christmas period.
Getting advice at any time of the year won’t be cheap, but people who take financial advice are an average of £40,000 better off, research suggests.
If you want to get your paperwork in order and need help making your money work harder, here are the first steps to take:
How to find an adviser
To find an adviser, we suggest using online services such as Unbiased.co.uk or Vouchedfor.co.uk. These sites allow users to search for an adviser by specialism, location and cost. The latter also publishes client reviews.
How do I know if an adviser is right for me?
When you’ve identified a list of potential advisers, the next step is to pick the best one for your circumstances. The person you hire to look after your finances is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll ever make.
Here are four key questions to ask prospective advisers:
- Are you an independent financial adviser?
This might seem obvious, but the legitimacy of an IFA should be your first consideration. For an IFA to qualify for the title, at the very least they need to hold a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) -recognised financial planning diploma, and a valid Statement of Professional Standing (SPS).
If their qualification is not clearly displayed, ask for proof.
- What are you best at?
Most financial advisers can advise on a number of topics, but whether you require general support across financial affairs, or seek expertise in one or two areas, it is important to identify an IFA’s core strengths.
- What’s your philosophy in respect of…?
Every financial adviser will have their own views, beliefs, and personality. It’s important to understand an IFA’s philosophy – their strategy, selection process, risk appetite, and more – to see whether their characteristics match with your own.
- How are you paid?
Since 31 December 2012, all advisers must charge an upfront fee they agree with you in advance. However, how they charge these fees varies significantly.
Most common is a percentage fee, proportional to the money managed. First, you will pay an initial percentage for becoming a client, then an ongoing percentage for each year the IFA manages your money. The percentage can vary significantly (it could be as low as 0.5%, or as high as 5%, so ask for clarification. Other financial advisers bill by the hour, a payment structure associated with the legal sector.
See YourMoney’s How to prepare for your first meeting with a financial adviser to see what you need to think about beforehand and a list of documents to take with you.