How to Choose a Financial Advisor
Choosing the right financial advisor is absolutely paramount to ensuring good investments and a healthy economical situation. Getting poor advice over finance is a risk many of us literally cannot afford, so make sure you do your research and follow the common sense guidelines below when making a decision.
Reputable financial advisors will have certain qualifications and be moderated by financial authorities. Things to look out for are a firm which is regulated directly by the Financial Services Authority. You can check the FSA register online. Take a look at the individuals who work within a team to check their qualification and experience. All should have a basic IFA qualification which certifies them as a professional independent financial advisor. Investment Management Certificates, qualified Chartered Insurance Practitioners and relevant Business Degrees are things to look out for, as they indicate a higher level of expertise in specialist areas. If you’re unsure, ask about the teams qualifications, and if needs be ask for proof. It may seem over-the-top but if they’re a good team they won’t mind showing you certificates to ensure your peace of mind.
Specialists – What are you Looking for?
Expert independent financial advisors will tend to specialise in certain areas. If you come across a firm which claims to offer you everything under the sun then chances are their expertise will be limited. If you want retirement planning advice then look for a specialist in this area. Likewise, if you want to start investing, find someone who has qualifications in this specific area.
Ask about fees from the off and make sure they’re reasonable and you understand how they are going to be paid. Free financial advice is great, but you have no assurance that it’ll be useful. If they’re a good firm you’ll probably have to pay something for their advice – after this is their business, but it’s far more likely to get you some return. Do shop around however, and make sure you’re not being over charged for the service.
Local, Small Firms are Sometimes Best
It’s sometimes good to stick to financial advisors who are in your area, not least because they’ll have daily experience of the financial environment where you live (their likely to live around their too). It also means you can arrange face-to-face appointments far more easily rather than doing everything over the phone. Smaller firms can mean far more attention to detail and a more personable service catered specifically to you.
Ultimately you are in control of your financial decisions whatever advice you receive, so if you’re unsure about any aspect of what you’ve been told, or don’t understand a piece of advice always clarify before doing anything with your money. It’s a financial advisors job to give you advice, and if it’s unclear then it’s their job to make it clearer! If you’re with the right kind of people, they’ll be more than happy to go over anything with you.