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Should I use a Financial Adviser?

By Peter Brooke
This article is published on: 24th May 2014

Creating a financial plan is NOT a complicated thing to do; it is an audit of where you are today, financially, and where you want to be at different stage of your life. This requires creating a list of what you have, earn, own and owe and agree with yourself to put something aside to cover different goals for the future.

If we don’t have goals in life there is probably little point in getting up in the mornings; unfortunately most things cost money and so having financial goals is also an important part of life. Money doesn’t buy happiness, as we all know, but it does buy some choice and, to some extent, some freedom. I have met yacht crew who have worked for 20 years without implementing a financial plan and want to leave yachting; as they have no pensions and minimal savings or investments they are left with a simple choice… live on very little or keep on working… I see this as a loss of freedom, and so do they.

So we can agree that having a financial plan, however simple, is a very important thing to have but why have (and pay) someone to help you bring this together?

The process – though doing a plan is quite simple a financial adviser will ensure that all areas are discussed and re-examined so nothing is left out. All of the horrible ‘what if’ questions should be covered:

Implementation – a good adviser will have access to thousands of products from to use with different clients who have different needs. The more choice available the more assistance you will need in choosing the best ones, but also the more independent the advice will be. A small advisory firm is likely to have only a few products to choose from and so will display less independence.

Professionalism – if we are ill we go to a doctor; they have qualifications to diagnose our problems and help to put together a plan to make us better. Likewise with a lawyer. A financial adviser should also have qualifications in his or her trade too. Some advisers also specialise in certain areas, like investment or protection etc.

Regulation – like a Doctor or lawyer a financial adviser will be regulated by a government body and will have to display a certain competency and have insurance in order to practice.

Knowledge – qualifications don’t guarantee knowledge, a good adviser should continually improve their knowledge and should be able to prove this through their ability to explain complex issues.

Humanity and perspective – most importantly you need to trust your adviser, this person or firm should be your trusted adviser for most of your life; they need to be able to empathise with the different situations you will find yourself in over the years. They should be able to draw on experience from other clients to help solve issues you face too; they should be able to offer perspective on the decisions you make.

This last point is the hardest to prove and is probably best achieved through a combination of your own ‘gut instinct’ and referrals from friends and colleagues. Do your own research on the all of the above factors, ask around and keep asking around until you have a short list of advisers to meet… then follow your own feelings as to whether you can trust them; the relationship should be a long term one and you will end up telling them a lot of very personal information over time.

This article is for information only and should not be considered as advice.

This article appeared on the FEIFA website. The Spectrum IFA Group is a member of FEIFA. (The European Federation of Financial Advisers and Financial Intermediaries)

Article by Peter Brooke

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