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The Value of Seeking Financial Advice

By Peter Brooke
This article is published on: 26th March 2024

The personal financial advice industry has often been regarded as a home for insurance salesmen in shiny suits or as an out-of-reach luxury for the very wealthy. It hasn’t helped with various mis-selling scandals over the years and high levels of hidden fees, but after 25 years in this industry I wanted to make the case as to why we are not all the same and show what true value can be taken from seeking professional advice.

Fortunately, our industry has changed a lot over those 25 years and transparency, communication and ‘putting the client first’ have now become the values most of us live and work by.

As a little background, I wanted to be a Vet or a Doctor when I was at school, I loved science and maths but didn’t truly focus enough on my A-Levels and was found wanting when it came to getting into Medical School. I ended up studying Molecular Genetics at Sussex University but discovered that I also didn’t want a life in a lab. As a ‘frustrated Doctor’ I ended up in Pharmaceutical Sales… great fun as a young man straight out of Uni but it became a very demoralising job and one which I discovered was really all about making money, not helping people.

which way to go

I was encouraged by a family friend to look at stockbroking or financial planning as a change of track and started work in 1999 (dot com!!) at an investment advisory business in London. We introduced the UK’s first ‘advisory-discount’ services where we would provide personalised investment recommendations at discounted fees.

Ironically, it took moving to an industry that concentrates solely on money to realise that I could actually help people achieve wellbeing and peace of mind through my abilities to discuss and explain complex issues.

In 2004 I moved to France and started working with The Spectrum IFA Group, helping English speaking expatriates to create and realise their plans for living in France, I have been here ever since. I especially wanted to join a fully regulated company which gave me the independence of my own business and together we have grown to where we are today – 50 advisers operating across Europe, in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta and Switzerland.

it gonna be OK

What should we, as financial advisers, aim to provide to our clients?

I believe our true value lies in helping our clients answer two main questions:

1. Am I going to be ok, financially, and if not, what do I need to do to make sure I am?

2. What have you, as my adviser, done for me?

The first question is the core of a good adviser’s skill set and business strategy – it is all about helping identify and plan for different stages of life. Correctly laying out a ‘roadmap’ for the future and asking the difficult questions; this can truly provide the peace of mind that you, as my client, are on target, and if not what do we need to change or compromise on to ensure you get there.

This roadmap then needs ongoing reviews, especially as life throws various obstacles at us along the way.

The second question is the ‘HOW’ of the first question. Historically we have valued good advice, and what we pay for it, as a percentage measurement of investment performance, which the adviser actually has minimal control over.

I believe it is more nuanced than this and can be broken down to six key areas in which we can (and should) add value and help answer that first very important question:

We help to bring order to your financial life by assisting setting budgets and cash flow targets as well as overseeing and reviewing investments, insurance, estate plans, taxes, etc.

We are a sounding board to help you follow through on your financial commitments, by identifying and prioritising goals, and then explaining, in plain english, the steps to take, and then regularly reviewing your progress towards them.

We offer insight from the outside to help you avoid emotionally driven decisions in important money matters; we are available to consult with you at key moments of decision-making, providing the necessary research to ensure you have all the information to make the best choices.

We help you anticipate life events and changes and be financially and emotionally prepared for them. We can help in creating, ahead of time, the action plan necessary to address and manage any life transitions that inevitably appear.

We explore what specific knowledge will be needed to succeed in your plans by understanding your situation and then providing the necessary resources to facilitate your decisions, and explaining the options and risks associated with each choice in a clear and simple manner.

We aim to help you achieve the best life possible but will work with you, not just for you, to make this possible. We will take the time to clearly understand your background, philosophy, needs and aspirations and will work collaboratively with you and on your behalf (with your permission, of course).

Upfront about what it costs

For me, helping people is at the centre of my personal values – being paid to do this is a welcome bonus and I have long believed that our jobs find us, not the other way round. I have always been a bit of a ‘planner’ and see ‘the big picture’ in most situations – helping people see that ‘they are going to be ok’, or explaining ‘what they need to do to get there’ is a truly pleasurable challenge for me.

Price is what you pay, Value’s what you get

I firmly believe my clients get value for money. In Europe we are not regulated to handle client money so will never send you a bill for you to pay us directly.

Spectrum is remunerated by the insurance or investment company which provide the final financial solution to you and with whom you have a direct relationship, with us ‘appointed’ as your adviser.

I believe in transparency of all costs and charges so you know exactly what you are paying and to whom. Our charges are competitive, we only use clean share classes of funds so there are no hidden or double fees.

Making the time – ‘How can I help?’

I live and work in a community of English speaking expatiates where referrals and recommendations count for a great deal. I always feel very proud and grateful when an existing client refers me to another family member or friend who might be able to benefit from the services that I offer. So thank you for trusting me with them and I look forward to helping more in the future.

Snapshot of our services

  • Financial Planning & Budgeting
  • Family protection
  • Cash Flow Planning
  • Investment Management Advice/Guidance
  • Tax optimisation through tax efficient products
  • Estate & Inheritance planning
  • Risk Management, diversification & asset allocation
  • Retirement planning
  • Education cost planning
  • Long term care planning
  • Pension advice including transfer and consolidation

If you know someone who might need our services, feel free to get in touch and forward them this email – the link above can be used to book a 30 minute call with me directly. If I can’t help then I may be able to direct them to someone who can.

If you have any questions or would like a catch up then please use any of the below communication channels or the booking system – always drop me a quick message if you need a time slot outside of those available.

For existing clients the CashCalc secure portal is a great place to update any information, send me documents or even a direct secure message.

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Article by Peter Brooke

If you are based in the Provence Alpes & Cote d’Azur area you can contact Peter at: for more information. If you are based in another area within Europe, please complete the form below and we will put a local adviser in touch with you.

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