Be careful when choosing a financial adviser. They must be able to offer you a truly unbiased solution says Phil Mellows.
Getting good independent advice can make a big difference not only to your pension but to every aspect of your personal finances. Products such as pensions, insurance schemes and loans come in all shapes and sizes - not to mention levels of risk.
So how do you know what will fit you best and get you a superior deal? You need an expert who knows their way around the marketplace and can put together a package for you that takes into account all the available options. That's where your own independent financial adviser (IFA) can help.
To make best use of an IFA you need to build a close relationship with them and make them aware of all your circumstances. If you don't already know one or have someone recommended to you, IFA Promotion may be able to help. Established some 15 years ago by leading financial services providers, its website has a search engine which will display a number of accredited IFAs local to you. See www.unbiased.co.uk or call 0800 0853250.
You might find that the initial meeting is free. The adviser will ask you questions, of course, but don't be afraid to grill them too. You need to feel confident that they can offer you practical help.
Find out as much about them as possible, in particular satisfy yourself that they are genuinely independent. Many problems associated with IFAs come when they recommend only a limited portfolio of products or schemes - as they will if they are an agent for a bank or insurance company. Your needs and circumstances are unique - you want a tailored solution, not an off-the-shelf deal.
A good IFA will find out all they can about you then go away and research what product or combination of products will best suit your circumstances. They will then discuss these with you.
In most cases this should take up only two or three hours of meetings so it need not cost too much. Once you have established a relationship with an IFA it can pay you back in all kinds of ways.
What to ask a prospective financial adviser
- Will I have to pay for the first meeting?
- Are you tied to offering any particular financial products?
- How long have you been in business?
- What qualifications do you have?
- In what areas, if any, do you specialise?
- Do you charge fees or take commission?
- Do you belong to a compensation scheme?
- Do you have professional indemnity insurance? (Required by law.)