How to Select a Financial Advisor

There is such an abundance of information about pensions and retirement online that retirees can make the mistake of trying to cut corners and making crucial financial decisions themselves.

If one thinks closely about the implications that such a decision may have in the next few years, the thought can be scary.

One small mistake while buying an annuity or while choosing an investment fund, can virtually change the way your life unfolds in the twilight years.

SEE ALSO: What is an Annuity?

All those years of planning, saving, and preparation can be undone in minutes.

That’s why most financial experts and even the government encourage you to seek independent financial advice before you make decisions about your pension.

It is not very expensive, and the information and advice you receive can be very well worth it. In fact, you should consider it as an investment in its own right.

How to find financial advisors

One of the easiest ways to find a financial advisor is to ask for recommendations from your colleagues or friends who may have hired their services.

However, the catch is that it may not always be possible to gauge the quality of the advice provided that a few years pass.

There are other public resources which can be a valuable source of impartial information about Independent Financial advisers who are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Here are some of them.

  1. The Unbiased Web Directory (www.unbiased.co.uk) lets you search for a financial advisor close to you by entering your postcode
  2. Vouched (VouchedFor.co.uk) is a review based website that provides ratings and reviews written by genuine clients of various financial advisors. It is a good resource to analyze the services of financial advisors.
  3. The FCA (The Financial Conduct Authority) register allows you to check and know if a financial adviser you selected is an authorized one

What should you look for

Financial advisors come in all shapes and sizes and have varied areas of expertise.

Since you are looking for advice regarding retirement income, pensions, and annuities, you should look for an adviser who is skilled and qualified in those areas.

  • Check if they are qualified. Although all Independent Financial Advisers are required to be qualified to a certain minimum level (Ofqual accredited level 4 qualification), any additional qualifications will be a plus.
  • Check their expertise. A financial adviser who has been around for the last few years will certainly be a better choice than someone who has recently started their practice.
  • Ask for references to see if their clientele has mostly been people who had similar requirements as yours. A diverse clientele does not necessarily mean that they cannot provide you with good advice.
  • Check the fees beforehand. As per the RDR – Retail Distribution Review dated 31st Dec 2012, you can choose to pay fees upfront for the services, or you can choose to pay them a commission from the amount you invest in a product that they recommend. But do not slump for the first quote you receive. Get quotes from multiple financial advisors.
  • Ask if they are an independent adviser who will be able to provide you with impartial advice and offer a broad range of investment options. If the adviser only offers a limited number of investment options, then they may be a ‘restricted’ advisor.
  • Ask if you will be provided on-going advice if necessary and what it will cost you.
  • Look for advisers who agree to meet you face-to-face, free of charge. Usually, a direct meeting is a better way to understand if you are dealing with the right person.

The Preparation

If you have selected a financial adviser, then the next step is to ensure that you prepare well for the meeting. They will first try to get a clear picture of your investments and if applicable, that of your partner or spouse.

So prepare a list of all relevant details like your assets, liabilities, existing policies, private pension plans, investments, power of attorneys, wills, employment pension schemes, payslips, national insurance number and any other information which you think may be relevant.

You may also look at our Complete Pensions FAQ.