What To Ask Your Financial Adviser
Twelve questions to ensure they are right for you.
1. The basics
Where to start.
- When you decide to see a financial adviser, especially if it is your first contact with them, you should plan in advance by pulling together your relevant paperwork, thinking about your financial goals and preparing a list of questions to ask.
- Your adviser will firstly want to understand which products you have, your current financial position, your goals and how you feel about taking risks with your money.
- This will help them to recommend a financial plan and products that are right for you now and in the future.
- Here are some questions that you might want to ask us before deciding whether to proceed:
2. The questions
Q1: Are you approved by the FCA?
The adviser should be regulated and approved by the FCA, and you can check the Register to ensure we are. Our FCA registered number is: 610687.
If you use an adviser that is not approved by the FCA, you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong.
Q2: What experience and qualifications do you have?
The FCA has increased the minimum standards of qualification that financial advisers have to meet to ensure their knowledge is up to date.
Advisers now have to be qualified at Level 4 or above of the Qualifications and Credit Framework (equivalent to the first year of a university degree).
Professional advisers also need to obtain an annual Statement of Professional Standing (SPS).
All of our advisers are fully qualified to at least level 4 and have up to date SPS. Please ask us to show you our qualifications and SPS.
Q3: What type of advice do you offer?
Financial advisers can offer ‘independent’ advice, where they can consider products and providers from the whole market or ‘restricted’ advice, which is limited to certain products, providers or both.
Your adviser has to clearly explain if they specialise in certain areas, such as shares, funds, units, insurance products or anything else, and the providers they look at.
All of our advisers offer Independent advice from the “whole of market”.
Q4: What are your charges?
It is important to understand what fees and charges you will pay for advice and when you will be expected to pay.
There is no charge for our initial consultation. We will also tell you the amount of any one-off fees and regular fees if the advice is ongoing.
If you are not clear about the costs at any stage please ask us. Professional advice is very valuable and we want you to understand the costs as well as the benefits.
We no longer take commission from investments with product providers. We have a duty to tell you upfront how much our advice and service costs.
Q5: Can the cost be deducted from my investment?
We will agree with you how you will pay for the advice you receive. We will often give you the option of whether the fee can be taken from your initial investment rather than being paid up front.
We may accept payment in instalments if you have a regular contribution contract, but this is not allowed with lump sum investments.
Q6: How do you assess my financial needs?
We will outline to you the process that we use to decide how to advise you and what to recommend to you.
We will ask questions about your current provision, your circumstances, plans, goals, attitude to risk, and any expected changes.
Our advice does not necessarily lead to a product sale. Our role is to assess your needs and show you how to reach your goals. This service is paid for by you rather than being dependent on you taking out a product
Q7: How do you assess whether a product or investment has the right level of risk for me?
We will explain what we consider your risk profile to be and how each recommendation or product fits in with this. We use specialist tools and detailed conversation to assess this for each client.
If you think you are prepared to take more or less risk than we suggests, please ask us to explain how they decided your risk profile and whether it should be changed.
We always remember whose money we are looking after and you should be happy to ask any questions you want to. It is important to us that you are confident that our advice is right for you.
There is no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to looking after your money or loved ones.
Q8: How will I receive the advice?
Your advice will be given to you face to face and in a report.
If you want it in a different form please let us know and we will confirm if there are any different prices for each.
Your adviser should send you an outline of their recommendations, which is usually called a ‘suitability report’. Check this carefully to ensure it reflects the discussion you had with the adviser and that you understand why they recommended a particular plan or product.
Q9: Do you offer an ongoing service and how much does it cost?
As well as providing an initial recommendation, a core part of our service is regular review.
This might be an annual review to check the value of your investments and consider any changes to your circumstances, checking your risk profile, make sure you are not missing tax saving opportunities, improving the tax effectiveness of your portfolio etc.
You do not necessarily have to use the ongoing service but if you decide to we will explain the options and fee involved.
Q10: How often should I review my investments?
You should ask the adviser how often they recommend reviewing your investments based on your circumstances.
Most experts suggest that at least once a year is sensible to ensure your investments are in line with your risk profile.
There are often budget changes that will add or remove tax allowances – it is important to review these regularly to make sure you don’t miss out.
Your adviser will discuss and agree the best approach with you.
Q11: Who will look after my advice?
We will explain who will give you advice and also explain any other contacts points when we meet (e.g. for ad hoc questions, administration etc.).
Q12: How do I know I am getting the right advice?
We pay for external compliance expertise to review our files to ensure our advice is of the highest standard.