Find an expert to help you decide on your long-term financial goals, and implement these plans in a tax-efficient manner.
What Qualifications / Experience Do They Have?
All financial advisers in the UK must be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and advisers recommending retirement products must achieve a “Level 4 Diploma”, equivalent to the first year of a degree-level course.
Many advisers have higher-level qualifications – Certified Financial Planner or Chartered Financial Planner status.
These require the pension adviser to have several years of practical experience, signed a code of ethics, and pass challenging exams and is a good indicator to start your search with.
Check for additional qualifications, to show expertise and dedication – such as pension transfer specialist qualifications plus memberships with relevant professional bodies – such as the Personal Finance Society (PFS) and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).
Find out whether the adviser is authorised to give defined benefit pension transfer advice – if the value of your pension assets in a defined benefit scheme, or SIPP is more than £30,000, you must take regulated financial advice before a transfer can proceed. This is to ensure the transfer value offered represents good value and the transfer is in your interests.
Ask the pension adviser about their experience of giving advice in the area that you need and what outcomes they have achieved for their clients. Check out their testimonials or ask to speak to their existing clients for feedback.
Why Choose An “Independent” Pension Advisor?
Advisers are either Independent or Restricted.
Restricted advisers are limited in the products or providers offered, or by the number of providers they can chose from. This means you could end up buying a product which may not entirely suit your needs.
Independent financial advisers can recommend all types of pension products and services from all firms across the market without restriction. Your solution will therefore be tailored to meet your individual needs.
Search for ‘independent financial advisor pensions’ to find potential advisers in your area.
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Aim To Build A Relationship
Dealing with an advisor should be more than ‘a single transaction’.
Finance planning needs are subject to change, as your circumstances change throughout your lifetime.
Select a pension advisor who genuinely seems interested in your individual situation and goals, someone you could be comfortable building a long term relationship with.
You are looking for a personalised service, with recommendations suitable to your position, as opposed to general advice that could apply to any person.
They should discuss your lifestyle, requirements and attitude to risk, and translate these into actionable plans.
Invest time in learning about personal finance to give you confidence to discuss future plans. Consulting an experienced financial adviser is a good way to understand your options and sense-check your views.
Experts recommend an initial face-to-face meeting to check an adviser is right for you and one you can relate too. Search online for financial advisers in your location, for example, ‘financial advisers Cardiff’, and take note of their experience, qualifications and professional memberships.
Is The Process Clear And Transparent
Step One – Ask About Their Process
Do they use a ‘key facts document’, outlining their fees and services, what to expect from the relationship and the steps that you will go through. This is usually covered in the introductory meeting.
Stage Two – The Fact Find
If you want to proceed, they should carry out a ‘fact find’, to provide information on your finances, goals and attitude to risk.
They will use this to recommend suitable products and services to you, and produce a financial plan, including product and service recommendations, including any tax benefits.
Stage Three – Risk and Reward
The adviser must give you a key features document that explains the level of risk, how the product might work, and commission or fee charges and be totally transparent on all the costs that you will incur.
On your agreement to the recommendations and fees the plan will be implemented. Ongoing advice or reviews is a vital part of the service to ensure you stay on track, unless you are simply looking for a one-off piece of advice.
An Important Note About Fees
Independent Financial Advisers used to be paid by receiving commissions for products they sold. In 2013 this changed and now advisers have to charge the client for giving advice instead. This prevents conflicts of interest.
Ensure your adviser is clear on their fees and provides written confirmation of what services are included in the cost.
The way advisers charge can vary, but will be based either on an hourly rate, a fixed fee for a specific task, or a percentage of money managed.
Depending on the type of advice you need and the complexity of your circumstances, you might feel paying for a highly qualified adviser is worthwhile, because the cost of doing this yourself and getting it wrong can be very stressful and could amount to a loss of tens of thousands of pounds or more – ultimately much higher than paying the fees of a professional adviser in the first place.
To speak to a Cardiff financial adviser contact Tony Thomas on 07585 592494 or firstname.lastname@example.org.