THE BEST QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR FINANCIAL ADVISER
Updated: May 20
“It is your money – find the right person to look after it”
There are around 5,000 firms providing financial advice in the UK and around 25,000 advisers. Numbers have stayed pretty static for the last three years, whilst demand for advice has risen. Consumers have access to unprecedented amounts of information but this is useless without wisdom; searching for this is important.
It is far too common to see individuals lured into investments or products they don’t understand or which are unsuitable; your planner should be able to help you navigate this new world. Good planners will also help you manage your own behaviour and help you and your family make good financial decisions longer term.
You need to decide what you want from a financial adviser.
We would always recommend you start with the obvious:
Are you independent?
What are your qualifications?
What are the costs? What is included, what is not?
Where is my money held?
What are the risks?
What is your investment philosophy?
Once you know these answers we feel it is important that you dig a little deeper to ensure you get the right person. You may even want to question your existing adviser to check they are on your side.
Are you paid to sell certain investments over others?
If you are going to entrust someone with your money, it’s vital that they share with you how they earn their fees. Are they transactional and incentivised to simply sell you products or “stuff”, or do they have a more thoughtful, deeper meaning to their work? You need to be confident that they understand you and your unique plan and they are working to achieve it.
What goals are we working towards and how does this help me achieve them?
As your life changes your objectives will change and you need to have a plan that is flexible and suited to your needs. It is likely you will need to consider all your choices, and sometimes this is overwhelming.
Am I comfortable with my level of debt - should I pay off debt or save for the longer term?
Should I spend more now to live or more later when I have time?
Should I try to make inheritance tax savings now or leave till later?
Am I paying too much to protect the risks to my family or will they be ok?
Should I fund pension or ISA?
What am I missing?
A good adviser will ensure all your needs are covered and you are balancing each aspect of your financial affairs as well as you can.
Is there anything else I should be doing, what am I missing?
Without hard work most long-term relationships can create inertia. Don’t be afraid of asking if there is anything else you should be doing or whether there is anything else your adviser can help with.
You may have been thinking about planning for school fees, supporting your children with a first property purchase, tax planning or establishing a business.
Your adviser may be able to help. If not they should have a range of professional partners who will be able to help.
When will I know when we are finished?
This is an interesting question and it can help you to identify whether your adviser is able to articulate what you are trying to achieve and what you are planning to do. It is vital your adviser understands this as it is crucial to your long-term future and your own financial well-being.
What’s your succession plan?
As you are working with someone who is in the business of planning for people’s future. You need to be confident that you are working with someone who has their future mapped out as well.
Great financial planning can help wealth move through the generations. Just as successful family companies invest for the long term you need to be confident that your assets can be looked after for the long term.
We all understand that careers won’t last forever and we all should have a good plan in place to ensure that your needs are met once that future comes to pass.
How do you measure success?
Your adviser should be willing to share how you’re performing against a relevant benchmark that depends on your timeline and risk tolerance for those goals. However a strong financial adviser will measure success based on how well your plan is progressing against the goals you laid out when you set it up, and not just an arbitrary benchmark.
The right benchmark is rarely just “am I keeping up with the market?” and should be “Am I on track to deliver the life I want?”.
Choosing an adviser to work with you to deliver your dreams is an important one. By digging a little deeper it will help you to choose the most suitable partner for you and ensure they are always working in your best interests.
This article does not constitute advice. Anyone considering any form of financial planning should seek independent financial advice. Octagon Consultancy Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You should note that the FCA does not regulate tax advice. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The value of your investment may go down as well as up