Survey-Make Your Money Grow: Investing in expert advice

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The Independent Online
The key to financial success is good advice. With more than 28,000 financial products on the market, you need help in finding your way through the financial maze.

You can reduce your choice at a stroke by going to a tied agent, or appointed representative of a company: he or she will be able to sell you only that company's products. To choose from the best on the market, you must either do the hard work yourself or, more sensibly, seek independent advice.

Thousands of independent financial advisers (IFAs) can offer you the choice of almost any product from any company. From July this year, IFAs have to hold certain professional qualifications to be able to give you advice. And they all have to be authorised by the Personal Investment Authority.

Many IFAs obtain further qualifications in order to specialise in a particular area such as investments, tax planning or mortgage business. You may want to see such a specialist.

Choosing an IFA can take time: you want to deal with someone you can trust and are comfortable with. Personal recommendations from friends, a solicitor or an accountant can be a starting-point. Alternatively, call IFA Promotion (IFAP) on 0117-971 1177 for details of three IFAs in your area.

Your adviser should first carry out an in-depth enquiry into your existing financial arrangements, and discuss your financial goals. It could be that some of your investments are not performing well, and your money could do better elsewhere.

At this meeting you should discuss payment. Either the client pays a fee, or the IFA earns commission. Typical charges are around pounds 250 for a fee-based advice service, or between 1 and 5 per cent of the financial product you buyn

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