The cost of taking advice is becoming clear
Where can you turn for financial advice? The bloke in the pub? Your window cleaner? Your bank? You may think you'll get more honest help from the first two these days, but for decent advice you need to go to a professional.
The financial advice industry has been tarnished by a series of scandals, ranging from insurance mis-selling through to blatant theft of clients' funds in isolated cases. Yet there are still tens of thousands of advisers out there willing to take cash from you in return for their help.
The question of whether they're worth the cash is an interesting one. With so much information about investments, savings and pensions freely available these days it is tempting to try and deal with what could be complicated financial decisions for yourself. Make a wrong move, however, and it could be an expensive mistake – with only yourself to blame.
The argument for going to an expert, on the other hand, is that they do it for a living and should be able to approach whatever financial question you have with much wider knowledge, whether it's pointing out tax implications, or explaining the potential risks of different opportunities, or even accessing deals that may not be available to the general public.
The key problem can be, however, finding an adviser that you feel comfortable with and can afford. And if you think you've received advice for free in the past, think again.
Advisers make money in two ways. Either they charge a fee for the advice, or they get paid commission on any product or plan you take out. Being paid commission can lead to the temptation for an adviser to recommend the product that pays them the most. That temptation can make their recommendations seem a little questionable.
For that reason commission is going to be scrapped from the end of next year. Instead, you will pay a set fee for advice. Also, as part of the process of cleaning up the industry, from January 2013 advisers must have qualifications equivalent to a certificate in higher education.
That is good news for consumers, but a new website is getting a head start on the new rules by offering access only to advisers who charge fees. But what makes the launch of VouchedFor.co.uk interesting is that it wants the clients to rate the advice they receive from advisers. In fact, it will pay a small amount to people who complete a review for the site.
While VouchedFor is still in its infancy, if it takes off it could prove to be a valuable resource with not only access to decent advisers all over the country, but an at-a-glance look at what other people think of them. In the search to find decent advice, that could prove very useful. If you're looking for advice, you should also try unbiased.co.uk, a detailed register of independent advisers.
Time for crackdown on dodgy debt firms
fee-charging debt management companies are exploiting vulnerable consumers, Citizens Advice warned this week. It has called on the Office of Fair Trading to impose tough sanctions on companies who flout the rules.
The charity helped with more than 3,000 problems relating to rogue debt management services and credit repair last year, and accused some debt management companies of charging excessive fees, offering vulnerable people inappropriate debt solutions and forcing people further into debt.
"People already struggling with their finances, who are trying to do the right thing and address their debt problems, should not be pushed over the brink by unaffordable fees or inappropriate services," said Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy.
The Office of Fair Trading is currently consulting on debt management and credit repair services guidance. "The guidelines from the OFT set high standards for the debt management and credit repair industry," said Guy.
"However, guidelines alone are not enough. In the past, debt management companies have routinely flouted the OFT's guidelines, so these will need robust enforcement. The regulator must not be afraid to impose tough sanctions."
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?
- 2 London council removes 'unacceptable' Stamford Hill posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan in new celebrity hacking attack weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 Matthew Miller: American sentenced to hard labour in North Korea 'wanted to be Snowden II'
- 5 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
iJobs Money & Business
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...
Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...
£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...
To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...
Day In a Page
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize