Financial Advisors: Finding a good independent financial advisor can be a daunting experience, especially if you are seeking financial advice for the first time. Whether you are looking for mortgage, investments, pensions or even insurance advice, all qualified financial advisors have one thing in common; they must all follow the regulations of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Any advice given from a FCA registered financial advisor comes with the guarantee that should anything go wrong, you have access to the Financial Ombudsman Scheme or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Family and friends recommendations can be a good starting point in choosing a financial advisor, but remember that their circumstances may be different to the type of advice you are looking for. Not every financial advisor is suitable for everyone and any advice they provide should be tailored to your unique circumstances. Choosing a financial advisor is a major decision and it pays to talk to at least three different firms in order to explore the options they can provide, and to find one you feel comfortable with and can trust.
There are two main types of financial advisor; independent financial advisors (IFA) and restricted advisors. An IFA should not be confined to a single company's products or services. Independent financial advice should be given in an unbiased way and across the full spectrum of financial products and companies. This will allow you to choose from the widest range of services to suit your needs. A restricted advisor may be concerned with a single product, such as a mortgage advisor, or be limited to products and services from a single company.
Before any financial advisor takes you on as a client, they are required by the FCA to discuss their charges with you. Depending on the services you require, you could be charged by the hour, a set fee or even a percentage of your investment value. You could be offered a free initial consultation to allow you to discuss your goals and see if the advisor is a right fit for you and your circumstances. In some larger firms you may find that your account is looked after by a team rather than an individual.
You will be required to fill out a "Fact Find" document, which is a confidential disclosure form relating your financial situation and goals to the advising company. You will also be given an Initial Disclosure Document, or Key Facts Document, which provides information about the financial advisor, their status to offer independent or restricted advice and their scope of permissions in the financial sector. This document should also lay out your rights and the options you can take if you're not happy with the service and wish to make a complaint. It should be written in plain language and detail what you are signing up for, and any possible risks and benefits should you decide to accept the offered advice. You will find the level of cooling-off period in the Key Facts Document. This allows you to cancel your contract with your financial advisor within a certain period of time, and if any penalty charges have to be paid.
When speaking to your financial advisor for the first time you should check their qualifications and experience. Do not be embarrassed about asking these questions, after all you are about to entrust your financial future to their skill. All financial advisors must hold at least a Level 4 qualification and present an annual Statement of Professional Standing. If the advisor's name does not appear on the Financial Services Register, don't panic, the firm the individual works for should be found on the register and their employees will be covered by the regulations. If these cannot be presented the person may still offer financial guidance instead of advice. Guidance differs to advice as it is not regulated and if financial mistakes are made there may be no recourse to either party.
If you are seeking advice on investing money you will be asked the level of risk you are prepared to take. Higher rewards may be possible with higher risk investments, but you may also lose some or all of your money. Good financial and investment advice will take into account your savings goals, i.e. short or long term investments, how quickly you need access to your money and how much you wish to invest. One question you should ask yourself, which is often overlooked, is just how much you can afford to lose. This is referred to as your capacity for loss and may affect the products and services that could be offered for your consideration.
If you already have any existing savings, investments, regular outgoing payments or mortgages, you need to tell your financial advisor about these. This will give a clear and full picture of your financial situation, without which the advice given may not be the best for you. Sound financial advice should allow for diversifying your savings and investments by spreading the risk load across different products. A qualified financial advisor will have the knowledge of the best areas to consider, which reflect your financial situation and your goals.
A financial advisor will open up the complex world of finance and communicate in as much plain speech as possible. This will allow you to compare products and services that match your needs, and come to an informed decision. You can even ask your advisor only to specify ethical savings and investment schemes. This will allow you to support companies and businesses that match your concerns, e.g. Green energy or zero carbon, or perhaps avoiding companies that do not meet your criteria.
Working closely with a financial advisor can be difficult to manage around work and other commitments. Face to face meetings can be supplemented with telephone and video conferencing to allow you to seek advice at a time to suit you. Working from home and remote working is now a large part of our society and a professional financial advice company will have rigorous measures in place to keep your details confidential and secure, even if you never have an in-person meeting with your advisor.
Investments can be a volatile area, and values can go down as well as up. If your investment is not making the amount of money you hoped for, it can be extremely worrying and frustrating. Unfortunately a downward trend in your investment is not a recognised cause for complaint unless it is due to wrong or misleading information from your financial advisor.
Any complaints should start with the firm's complaints procedure as detailed in the Key Facts Document. If the issue remains unsolved within the timeframe set out by the regulating authority, and the advisor is a member of the Financial Conduct Authority, you can inform the Financial Ombudsman of the issue.
The Financial Ombudsman will independently review the cause for complaint and make a ruling. If the complaint is justified, a decision is made on how to rectify or financially compensate the customer. Once the decision is accepted by the customer it becomes a legally binding decision which the financial advisor and their firm, must abide by. Any compensation as set out by the Financial Ombudsman will also take into account any trouble, upset, distress and inconvenience caused to the customer during the situation.
The Daily Duties of a Financial Advisor
- A financial advisor keeps fully up to date with law changes and new financial products.
- A financial advisor recommends the best-suited financial products to clients.
- A financial advisor produces comprehensive financial reports.
- A financial advisor continually updates clients concerning their investments.
- A financial advisor thrashes out advantageous deals with with providers of financial products.
- A financial advisor provides education, counselling and consultation regarding investments and finances.
- A financial advisor meets targets for sales and performance.
- A financial advisor works together with colleagues to gather market information, trends and statistics.
- A financial advisor talks to customers about their finances and plans.
- A financial advisor keeps detailed records of clients and transactions.
Skills and Knowledge Needed to be a Financial Advisor
- To have attentive listening and interpersonal skills.
- Good skills in customer service for finding out customer needs and requirements.
- To pay attention to detail and be thorough.
- To be confident in using a computer and the key software packages.
- An outstanding knowledge and understanding of economics and accounting with regard to financial products and markets.
- To have a flexible work ethic.
- An excellent level of numeracy for producing financial packages.
- Good business management skills for the negotiation of product rates.
- Excellent skills in verbal communication.
- To be able to network and establish relationships with clients.
- To be good at promoting financial products and services.
UK Financial Advice Services
There are a whole host of services which are provided by your local UK financial advisor including income protection advice, personal financial planning, equity release advice, investment advice UK, offshore investments UK, investment plans UK, mutual funds, ethical investments, life insurance advice in the UK, investment bonds UK, life assurance advice UK, pension planning, corporate bonds in the UK, inheritance tax planning, retirement advice in the UK, trustee investment services, pension consolidation advice in the UK, pension planning in the UK, tax financial planning UK, pension drawdowns, cheap financial advice in the UK, general financial planning, business financial planning, divorce planning, annuities, and lots more.
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More UK Services
Undoubtedly, when you're looking at your finances in the UK, you will probably be in need of all sorts of different services and together with a financial advisor in the UK, you may also need mortgage advice in the UK, family lawyers in the UK, contracts lawyers in the UK, debt recovery & collection in the UK, tax preparation in the UK, business consulting in the UK, business financial planning in the UK, property law & conveyancing in the UK, solicitors in the UK, payroll services in the UK, wills & probate in the UK, mortgage brokers in the UK, banruptcy lawyers in the UK, accountants in the UK, estate planning in the UK, investment advisors in the UK, bookkeepers in the UK, and other different UK experts.
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