*jumps up and down, waving arms in the air*
Well, hello there. So you want to know how to find a good independent financial adviser (IFA)? We’re pretty confident that you’ve come to the right place.
But as we pride ourselves on the quality of our advice, here’s our first tip for you: don’t just take our word for it. The right IFA can be worth their weight in gold. So here are 10 questions to ask before you choose the right IFA for you:
1. How qualified are they?
Start by checking that the adviser is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide financial advice. Then delve a bit deeper. Most IFAs will have the basic Certificate in Financial Planning, but we believe you should expect more.
Look for someone with a Diploma or Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning as a minimum – indeed, this is the minimum requirement for an investment adviser. But, if you want the best of the best (and why wouldn’t you?), look out for a chartered financial planner. It means they’ve satisfied rigorous criteria to prove that they’re committed to ethical behaviour, excellent customer service and delivering best practice in everything they do.
2. Are they truly independent?
Independent advisers look at all available options and recommend investment products and solutions from the whole market. Restricted advisers are tied to a limited number of providers or product areas which, in turn, narrows your choice. If you want to be sure that your adviser offers you the very best options, check your adviser is totally independent.
3. Do they have extensive experience in your area?
It stands to reason that if you want the best advice, you need to choose an IFA that knows a lot about the area of financial advice you need help with. Good IFAs will advise you to consult a specialist for some types of complex advice. This might be a colleague within the same company, or someone external. This makes a lot of sense but check that you won’t get charged twice for the same advice!
4. Are you getting ongoing management?
Do you just want help with the specifics of setting up a pension or would you like someone to take an overview of all of your financial planning? Check exactly what your IFA is offering you. Access to ongoing advice can help you remain on track with all of your financial goals.
5. Do they work with people like you?
We don’t mean that all of their clients need to share your love (or hatred!) of Downton Abbey, but ask who your IFA’s typical clients are. Do they have similar needs to you? A firm that specialises in helping millionaires manage their assets might not give you the attention you deserve – unless you’re a millionaire of course.
6. How are the adviser’s fees structured?
Good quality financial advice won’t be free. Fees vary from one firm to another and there is no such thing as a standard rate. Some will use hourly rates, some will offer a fixed price, and some might have a different approach altogether.Understand what the IFA will charge and that you can afford to pay these charges. If your adviser doesn’t mention their fees, ask about them early in your discussions.
7. Can you speak to existing clients or see genuine testimonials?
Learning what existing clients think of an IFA will give you a good insight into whether they are the right person to help you make important financial decisions.
8. Do they ‘hard sell’?
A meeting with an IFA shouldn’t feel like a trip to a car dealership. You shouldn’t be pressured into signing up for something that doesn’t feel right for you. If you have doubts, ask for some time to think. A good IFA will want you to be confident and happy with the products and solutions they are recommending.
9. What support do they have?
Are there other people you can speak to when your IFA is busy?
10. Do they speak to you in plain English?
Do you really understand the advice given to you by your IFA? A good IFA won’t bamboozle you with jargon.
Congratulations – now you’re ready to choose your IFA and get your finances working for you! If you’d like to put us through our paces, we’re always ready to answer any questions you may have. Except “why do you never see baby pigeons?”. We’re as stumped as you are…
This article is for general use only and is not intended to address your particular requirements. It should not be relied upon in its entirety and shall not be deemed to be or constitute advice. The value of your investments can go down as well as up, so you could get back less than you invested.
GreenSky Wealth Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. FCA No. 629624. Registered Office as above. Registered in England and Wales, Company No. 07103441.