Financial planning

Finding the right financial planner

Colin Dyer

Someone said to me recently “I don’t need a financial adviser, I can just look everything up on the internet”. Frankly, that’s all very well if you a) understand how different funds, policies and plans are managed, b) can get your head around the risk ratings of different investment types, c) have your finger on the pulse about the latest tax rules, d) are keeping track of market trends, e) can get the best possible rates, f) are familiar with the jargon, etc, etc…

 

Get the picture?   AND that’s assuming that not only do you have the time to keep checking everything on a regular basis to make sure you’re still on track, but you’re also able to proactively keep watch for new opportunities.

However, all this stuff is actually skipping a very important step, because one of the first things a good financial planner will do is find out what you want to achieve. Then they’re able to use their skills and knowledge to help make that happen. In a lot of cases, having someone challenge you on your priorities and make you really think about your goals is as valuable as having an expert there to implement the solutions. This is where financial planning comes into its element.

Know what you need, then go get it

For the vast majority of people, professional financial planning is the best way to make sure that you’re clear on what you want from your finances, and that you have the right balance of investments, protection and planning to reach your objectives for the short, medium and longer term.

However, there are challenges in finding reliable advice.  There are a bewildering array of advisers, planners and consultants out there, so how do you know that you’re speaking to the right person?

“Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority”

The first thing to be sure of is that your adviser is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).  This is critical because of two reasons:

Firstly regulated advisers must have attained a certain level of qualification before they can be authorised, so you can be sure that they have the technical knowledge you can rely on.

Secondly – and this is really important – if you get advice from a regulated adviser and something goes wrong, you have access to a complaints procedure that is backed by the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.  What this means is that if your adviser is found to be in the wrong, then you’ll be compensated.

You can find details of the firms and advisers who are authorised by the FCA on its website.  All our 1825 Financial Planners are authorised and regulated by the FCA, and many of our team have achieved chartered status – the most advanced financial planning qualification available.

Working at your pace

In the bad old days, some financial advisers would just rock up and tell you what they thought you should do with your money, and there was a sense that you just did as you were told.  Not any more:  good financial planners will make sure that you understand what they are recommending and what the implications are for your financial affairs over time.

Whenever you meet your financial planner, keep asking questions until you have it all clear in your mind.  A good financial planner won’t begrudge you this time:  he or she will want to build a long-term relationship with you based on trust.

Looking at the whole picture

When someone is helping you create a personal financial plan, it’s really important that he or she really understands everything about you.  This doesn’t just mean knowing how much money you’ve got; it also means understanding your lifestyle needs, your hopes and aspirations for the future and what’s important to you.

In practice, it means a good financial planner will ask you an awful lot of questions.  Believe me, this is a good thing!  It’s only by understanding your objectives and your circumstances that a really sound financial plan can be put together.

Being clear about costs

As with any professional service, there are inevitably costs involved with getting financial planning and advice.  Some of these will be to pay the adviser, but other charges may be involved to pay for administration or management of the funds where you money is invested.

You should be told about all the charges you can expect right from the start.  Don’t let an adviser fob you off with vagueness in this:  ask for specific costs and find out how these are paid. Will you be sent a bill or will the costs be taken out of your investment pot?

Ethics and professionalism

We’ve heard a lot in the press in the last couple of years about schemes that have attempted to dodge the payment of tax – with the participants ending up paying huge tax bills when the taxman finds out.  We will absolutely never advise you to do anything to avoid paying your proper tax liabilities.  Always be cautious about any adviser whose sole focus is on tax avoidance:  a good financial planner will be guided by the Personal Finance Society’s Code of Ethics and will ensure that all your planning stays within tax laws.

But we can help you reduce your tax bills!  We help you do this through sound, Government-approved planning measures designed to either encourage you to save or to invest in developing businesses. The UK tax system is one of the most complicated in the world, so while everything we recommend is completely above board, having an expert by your side can be invaluable. We’ll guide you through the complexities and create a plan to utilise the tax benefits you’re entitled to.

Access to Specialists when needed

Some regulated advisers hold specialist qualifications to deal with particular areas of advice.  These might include pension transfers, trust and estate planning, equity release and mortgages.  Many firms will have specialists who can be brought into the conversation with your regular financial planner when needed.

At 1825 we have access to expertise in all of the above, and more. So if your needs fall outside your financial planners primary expertise we have specialists on-hand ready to provide high-quality support.

There for the long haul

Financial planning is a changing market place so it’s good to have the reassurance that the firm you choose is not going to fall by the wayside.  A good adviser won’t mind being questioned about the structure of the firm and its financial security.  Here at 1825, we’re backed by Standard Life, a FTSE® 100 company and one of the largest financial businesses in the UK. This financial strength means we’re able to invest in our business and adapt quickly to the changing regulatory landscape.

At the end of the day, your relationship with your financial planner should be one of mutual trust.  You need to be happy and comfortable sharing lots of detail about you and your family, and trust that your planner has your best interests at heart.  This isn’t a time to try to cut corners:  talk to an 1825 Financial Planner about how you can get good, sound financial planning advice.

Book an initial consultation

The most valuable thing about financial planning is that it’s tailored to you, which is why the best way to find out how you could benefit is to talk to a financial planner one-on-one. So if you’re thinking about financial planning, why not book a free consultation?

Your first meeting is an initial, no-obligation discussion about your needs and how we might help you. It’s an opportunity for you to understand more about us, and about how financial planning could add value to your life. This meeting is offered at our own cost, to help you decide if you’d like to work with us.

 

This blog should not be regarded as financial advice.