When we chose our partner I doubt many of us started by asking them a series of questions in an interview format (and if we did I would imagine the first date would have been a short one!)
Working with a Financial Planner can be a rewarding experience as the planner gets to know you, finds out more about your goals, understands your hopes and fears and the idiosyncrasies we all have together with all the financial related data that makes up our financial lives (this is even before we start discussing our relationship with money!) It can develop into an important long-term relationship.
Whilst this relationship often starts by getting to know each other, unlike the personal relationship it is a good idea to have a set of questions to ask initially, the answers to which will help you decide if the adviser/firm and you are a good fit.
Trusting someone to help you make good decisions with your money is very important and trust is likely to be developed as much with how we feel as it is with technical answers to questions. It is often said that we make decisions with our emotional right side of our brains and then justify the decision with the analytical left side.
So, if you are meeting with a potential financial planner I recommend being guided by your feelings, but also to consider the questions below which give more analytical information:
- What are your qualifications? (This should be a straightforward task but the myriad of different professional qualifications that exist for financial advisers and planners in the UK can make it a little more complex. Financial planning is a detailed, comprehensive process and requires an individual who has proven experience and skill in the planning process itself.
- What is your experience? (Experience is an important consideration in choosing any professional so do not hesitate to ask how long the planner has been in practice)
- What is your investment philosophy? and can you describe it to me clearly and succinctly?
- What are your typical fees, in percentages and pounds?
- How will you be paid if I do not buy a financial product from you?
- Do you provide independent or restricted advice, if restricted what are the restrictions?
- Can you advise on the suitability of my existing pensions/investments?
- What services do you offer?
- What is your ongoing review service?
- Will you be the only person working with me, or do you have a team approach?
- Do you specialise in a certain area or provide advice from a wide range of areas?
The answers to these questions could help you get a better feel for the adviser/firm and help you make an informed decision.
Neil Rossiter is a Chartered & Certified Financial Planner and can be contacted on 01823 321616 or firstname.lastname@example.org