The original blog will be updated as an ongoing resource here.

Today, Unbiased launched a guide to selecting an adviser. We think it is good, and could be augmented with something we prepared, and supplied potential clients, some time ago. Five questions to ask your Financial Adviser, Financial Planner or Wealth Manager:

What level of qualifications do you hold?

  • Certificate: equivalent to an A-Level, and sadly the current level of minimum qualification
  • Diploma Dip(PFS): is the most basic to be compliant post 1st January 2013 and equivalent to an HNC, or 1st year of an undergraduate degree
  • Chartered or Certified Financial Planner: the equivalent of an undergraduate degree and other professional qualifications i.e. Chartered Accountant or Solicitor (LLB)
  • What additional qualifications do they hold, and what do they mean, clearly those relevant to you are the most valuable

CV

  • How many employers have they worked for in the last 10 years?
  • Of these, how many are direct sales forces (e.g. Banks, Insurers and St James Place) vs. true IFA/Financial Planning firms?
  • What happens if you leave your current firm?

Fees and services

  • For how long have you operated a fee charging (as opposed to commission oriented) service model?
  • How are fees calculated? (some will be time-cost, some a fixed fee, and some a %age of assets under advice, there’s no ‘best’ answer, just what suits you)
  • What are the upfront costs, and will advice be focused on one element of your affairs or holistic?
  • Will you cap the initial fees to ensure I pay no more than a pre-agreed maximum?
  • Can the cost of advice be paid from a product, or will you expect me to settle the fees personally?
  • What are the on-going costs, and what services will the firm guarantee to supply?
  • Are you able to supply, in writing, details of the initial and ongoing services that you are supplying?
  • How are these services delivered (phone, face-to-face, Skype, in-writing, via email etc.)

Your status now, and post 1st January 2013

  • Are you, and do you intend on remaining Independent after the changes in 1st January 2013 (note: it will be much harder to be Independent, and many advisory firms may well have underestimated how difficult it will be. If they are ‘restricted’ is it the range of providers that are limited or do they only advise on specific product types)
  • Are you a Partner (Equity or Salaried), Employee or Self-Employed adviser?
  • In relation to the above, what safeguards are in place to make sure advisers are incentivised by good client outcomes as opposed to ‘billable hours’ or other measures of revenue generation?

Experience

  • What does your typical client look like?
  • Can you give examples of where you’ve advised clients of similar wealth/situation/personality?

Others

  • What makes you different?
  • What is the benefit to me of your services/advice?
  • How do you calculate your fees?
  • Can you provide testimonials (and ask questions to understand if this person looks like you)
  • How do you conduct research

Questions to ask yourself

  • Can I imagine working with this person for my life, and would I trust this person to look after my widow/widower/dependants?
  • Is this person good at explaining things in terms I can understand?
  • Does this personal understand my goals and concerns, and have I disclosed everything about my financial situation?
  • Am I happy with the fees, and is this person open to negotiation?
Opinions & Insights

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