You have decided to seek professional financial advice, but how do you choose the right financial planner for you?
Choosing the right financial planner will be a different for everyone and will depend on what is important to you. Your circumstances, the objectives you are looking to achieve and what you value in a professional relationship will all affect how you choose.
What should I look for in a financial planner?
Whilst each financial planner will have different qualities that you may value, there are some fundamental elements they should have.
To conduct regulated activities, such as dealing with investments or insurance contracts, a financial planner must be authorised to provide advice. To check whether the individual or firm you are looking at is authorised, you can refer to the FCA Register. The Register will give details of the firms and individuals who are registered and the activities that they have permissions for.
You should always ensure that the person you are dealing with is on the register and they have the permissions for the services you require.
A financial planner is required to hold appropriate qualifications to meet FCA requirements.
Whilst the FCA does not provide qualifications, there are certain qualifications which are approved and recognised as suitable. These include:
- CII (Chartered Insurance Institute) Diploma Level 4 in Regulated Financial Planning;
- CISI (Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment);
- Investment Advice Diploma Level 4;
- IFS Diploma for Financial Advisers; and
- Professional Certificate in Banking.
In addition to the minimum requirements, a financial planner may hold additional qualifications in specialist areas. If qualifications are an important decision-making factor for you, you should ask which certifications each financial planner you speak to has.
How do I find a financial planner?
There are various ways of beginning your search for a financial planner.
Speak to friends and family
Personal recommendations from individuals you trust are an effective way of creating an initial list and may save you time. You must consider that although a financial planner was well suited to a friend, their circumstances will not be the same as yours – so you will still have to evaluate their suitability to your own situation.
Other professional advisers
If you have other professional advisers, such as an accountant or solicitor, they may be able to recommend a financial planner, or provide a panel of financial planners they work with.
An online search can help you to find a financial planner.
The government run MoneyHelper website has a range of information regarding choosing the right financial planner for you. You could also refer to bodies which represent planners such as the Personal Investment Management and Financial Advice Association (PIMFA). The FCA register also has a search tool which can help you find registered firms within your local area.
Similarly, there are online directories and networks such as Unbiased which hosts the details of over 27,000 financial planners, both independent and restricted. VouchedFor offers a further network of 5,500.
Online searches will present you with a range of options.
Newspapers and magazines will contain advertisements for both local and national firms depending on the publication. You will also find contact details for financial planning firms listed within telephone directories.
What type of financial planner do I need?
There are two types of financial planner: independent and restricted.
Independent financial planners review the entire market and consider all types of retail investment products. They have access to a variety of products, platforms and investments. The benefit of this is that they will recommend a solution which suits you, rather than one they may have a financial interest in.
A restricted financial planner doesn’t have the same scope when it comes to researching and selecting from the whole of market. Their recommendations will be made from a smaller number of products and providers. They will be experts on the products that they are able to recommend but will be limited in their offering.
Both will be regulated by the FCA and have completed the required qualifications. Any financial planner should be clear about the type of advice they offer. If you are not sure, you should ask for further information.
For more information explaining the difference between independent and restricted financial advice, please refer to our article.
How much do financial planners charge?
Charges vary, but most financial planning firms will offer a no charge initial consultation. This will help you to decide which financial planner is best for you before you commit. The initial consultation should give you a good idea of how financial planning will help you and your family and improve your financial future.
Charging structures will vary but most financial planning firms will make a fixed charge based on time costs for their initial work and advice. If you implement recommendations, they will typically then charge on a percentage basis, which is based on the level of assets under advice. This is the initial charge when you first become a client, and you will have the option to pay an ongoing fee for ongoing services, which is typically a % of your assets under advice. These fees can normally be paid for from the assets under management, or you can settle independently.
Some firms offer or work on a fixed fee basis. Under this arrangement you will pay for each piece of work completed and a fixed fee for ongoing services.
Some firms choose to charge by the hour which is more akin to how solicitors and accountants charge. Independent financial planners charge on average £150 per hour.
Questions to ask at your initial consultation
When deciding on a financial planner, it is advised you meet with more than one to compare their services and discover whether they are the right fit for you. Use your no charge initial consultation to probe into the type of relationship you could have with this professional. Below are some examples of questions you could ask during this meeting:
- Do you offer independent or restricted advice?
- Do you currently work with clients who are in a similar position to me?
- What types of services do you specialise in?
- How do you charge clients and what am I likely to pay?
- Which qualifications do you have?
- Are you approved by the FCA?
- How will you assess my risk profile?
- What research do you undertake and what resources do you have for this?
- How often do you communicate with your clients?
- Do you have any client testimonials available?
How can we help you?
If you would like to discuss your financial planning requirements, or if you wish to arrange an initial no cost, no obligation, consultation, then please fill out the contact form below. Alternatively, you can call 01603 706 820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is solely for informational purposes and nothing in it is intended to constitute advice or a recommendation.
While considerable care has been taken to ensure this information is accurate and up-to-date, no warranty is given as to its accuracy. This article constitutes a financial promotion.