Check up on the experts
Sunday 09 June 1996
First, be clear just what kind of advice is being given. Tied agents offer the products of just one company and traditionally seek introductions through friends and family. It may be that the company's products fit your needs, and you may prefer to stick to someone you know and trust. But prices may not be the most competitive, and the investment performance may not be the best available.
If you want a wide choice, go to an independent financial adviser. IFA Promotion (0117 9711177) can give you a free list of three IFAs in your area.
The next step is to make appointments and go along for a financial factfind. This is a series of questions designed to tell the adviser everything he needs to know about your finances. Most IFAs will offer the service for free. Don't be blinded by science. A good adviser should be able to explain in plain English why he is recommending a particular course of action.
In deciding whether to use an adviser, tied or independent, ask the following questions.
Who authorises them? It is illegal to give investment advice unless authorised by an approved regulator. The main body for IFAs is the Personal Investment Authority; tied agents are responsible to their host offices, which in turn are accountable for their agents' behaviour to the PIA. It may also be worth asking whether the adviser has had any complaints upheld against him by his regulator.
What are their areas of expertise? Some big firms will advise on anything from mortgages to tax planning and from pensions to overseas investment. But many smaller firms are limited to, say, life insurance and pensions. Make sure the adviser's expertise matches what you want.
How long have they been advisers? Check that your adviser has a track record in your area of interest. If you can find one who has proved himself with friends or business contacts, so much the better.
How will your interests be protected? In the case of PIA-registered advisers, you have the safety net of the Investors Compensation Scheme. This provides compensation of up to pounds 48,000 per investor if you have a claim on an adviser that he cannot meet. For a free booklet explaining how the ICS works, call 0171 628 8820.
How are they paid? The vast majority of IFAs are still paid by commission, which may create the temptation to sell you whichever product earns them the most, rather than the one that is best for you. Tied agents are paid through the charges deducted from your policy or savings plan, so they have an interest in selling as much as possible.
A third option is the small but growing number of IFAs who charge an hourly fee. They should redirect the commission they would otherwise earn into your savings. You may pay up to pounds 100 an hour for fee-based advice, but at least there should be less of a vested interest in selling you something.
When will you see them again? Most reputable advisers will want to review your finances periodically and in some detail to make sure your circumstances have not changed and that you are still happy with what you've got. Typically, this will happen about once a year.
Regular cast member Ste Hay, played by Kieron Richardson, is about to test TV boundaries
- 1 Lee Evans announces retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
- 2 Pirelli calendar 2015: The problem with 'plus-size' models like Candice Huffine
- 3 These grandmas smoking weed for the first time are wonderful
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Angelina Jolie confuses everyone with 'ay up me duck' East Midland's greeting to Derby actor Jack O'Connell at awards show
Jeff Fletcher dead: Britpop guitarist is decapitated by lorry in horrific traffic accident
These grandmas smoking weed for the first time are wonderful
Jimmy Ruffin dead: Motown legend, who wrote 'What Becomes of the Brokenhearted', dies aged 78
New York snowstorm: Five dead and state of emergency declared as 'wall of snow' buries Buffalo
Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
G20 summit: Enter Putin. Accompanied by four warships. To the sound of mockery
'Muslims pre-date Columbus in discovering America,' says Turkish president Erdogan
David Cameron 'compares Vladimir Putin’s Russia to Nazi Germany' ahead of tense meeting
Former Tory PM Sir John Major says 'we would not have an NHS without migrants'
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
G20 summit: David Cameron warns Vladimir Putin that Russia's relationship with the West is at a 'fork in the road' over Ukraine
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...
£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...
$175 - $200 per annum, Benefits: full benefits: Carlton Senior Appointments: P...
Not specified: Carlton Senior Appointments: Senior MD Financial Advisor - San ...