Not everyone enjoys thinking about their personal finances. The financial forecasting involved in planning for big life events such as buying a house or starting a pension can be complicated and stressful, particularly if you’re not confident in your own accounting abilities.
Luckily, there’s a whole profession dedicated to helping number-crunching novices plan their finances effectively. Financial advisers specialise in assisting the public with their money and assets, allowing average people to make the right choices.
With different advisers specialising in different areas of finance, it can be tricky to know where to look. In this guide, we’ll outline the best ways to find professional financial adviser who can help you achieve your life goals.
Whether you’re considering a personal loan, changing careers, launching a business or planning for retirement, the right financial adviser will take your priorities into account and help you to make sure that you get the most from your money.
“There are a number of reasons for taking financial advice,” says Jeannie Boyle, a charted financial planner and the director EQ Investors. “You might be looking for a better return on your investments, want pension advice to ensure you have security in retirement, or have concerns about Inheritance Tax. A financial adviser can help you set financial goals and get you on track to meet them.”
While many people will only begin to consider speaking to a financial adviser in later life, you’re likely to benefit even more if you start planning early. Mark Stewart of Sheards Wealth Management believes that when it comes to money, you’re never too young to speak to an expert. “The earlier you start saving and planning for your future, the better off you’ll be,” he suggests.
Indeed, a financial adviser may be able to help you identify opportunities to save extra money that you weren’t previously aware of. For example, gaining the practical expertise of an experienced adviser when setting up your pension could make a difference of hundreds of thousands by the time you retire.
One of the best ways to find a trusted financial adviser is to ask friends, family and colleagues for recommendations. If someone you know has already benefitted from the services of a financial expert, you’ll have a strong indication that their advice is reliable.
Whether you’ve been reassured about an adviser’s credentials or not, it’s always worth doing your own research before making the important decision of who helps you manage your finances. Online tools such as AdviserBook and Unbiased.co.uk can help to match you with the right professional in your area.
Karen Barrett founded Unbiased.co.uk to help normal people benefit from reliable, independent financial advice during life’s most important decisions. Other than gaining referrals from friends and conducting online research, she believes that a good old fashioned chinwag is invaluable when choosing the right adviser for the job.
“Talk to them!” she urges. “You may not be fully aware of what your needs actually are, and a chat with a financial adviser can help you gain a clear picture. Look for an adviser who offers a free initial meeting – most do – and ask them to explain the ways in which they could help you. Talk to a few different advisers until you find the one who feels best for you.”
When speaking to potential advisers, they’ll need a clear picture of your circumstances in order to help you manage your money. Come equipped with details of your income, outgoings, savings and other assets, which will help the adviser you’re speaking to when it comes to crunching numbers and creating a long-term projection of your finances.
The cost of hiring a financial adviser puts many people off. However, with the right approach youl should actually end up saving more money than you’ll spend. And with most advisers offering free initial consultations, there’s nothing to lose by meeting up with some and exploring your options.
“Most advisers offer a free initial meeting at their expense to see how they can help,” explains Mark from Sheards Wealth Management. “This will give you the opportunity to meet the adviser and determine if you would be happy working together. Fees always need to be discussed and agreed in advance so that there are no nasty surprises.”
Before you agree to hire a financial adviser, it’s worth understanding the different ways you might be charged. There are a few different approaches that financial advisers take – we’ve outlined some of these below.
Percentage of assets
An adviser who is managing your investment portfolio over an extended period of time may charge a percentage of the portfolio’s total value. By charging a percentage of your total assets (typically between 1% and 2%), the adviser has a clear incentive to help your investments grow – the more you earn, the more they earn.
With a fixed fee agreement, your adviser will perform a specific service for a set price, which should be quoted in advance. This means that you’re not tied into any long-standing agreements – when the job’s done, you will have no further obligations to the financial adviser you hired.
Some advisers may charge an hourly rate for certain services. £150 per hour is the UK average, according to Unbiased’s cost of advice guide.
“Ultimately, good financial advice should save you more money than you pay for it,” comments Karen from Unbiased. “For instance, simply picking the right annuity could save you thousands over the course of your retirement. Advice taken at the right times can also boost the value of your pension by large amounts, whether by reducing management fees, picking better funds or maximising contributions.
“Perhaps even more importantly, advice can help you avoid making costly mistakes, or protect you from financial hazards like loss of earnings due to illness. Knowing you’ve made the best choices for yourself will also bring great peace of mind.”