Not sure how to go about tackling your finances? It could be time to call in a professional. Here's your step by step guide to finding the right financial advice.
Financial advice comes in many different forms, but to help you work out what type of service you'll receive, advice can be put into two categories: independent and restricted.
Independent advice is based on an assessment of all of the market, without any restrictions or bias towards a particular product or company.
Restricted advice will only take into account a focussed range of products from selected companies, either because the adviser has chosen to specialise in a particular area, like pensions, or because they only work with selected product providers.
Before you find an adviser, spend some time thinking about what you want to achieve. This might be something relatively straightforward, such as arranging a mortgage. Or your financial goals may be broader, for example putting an investment plan in place to give you a good retirement income in 30 years' time.
Whatever your needs, start getting together any relevant information, such as your income, regular outgoings and details of any financial products you already have. You will need these when you meet with your adviser.
Professional advice website unbiased.co.uk has a free and confidential 'Find an adviser' tool that enables you to search for an adviser in your area. It allows you to specify details such as areas of advice and qualifications.
Shop around. Contact at least three advisers and compare what they can offer.
Most advisers offer free 'taster' sessions (lasting about an hour) to give you an idea of whether they're right for you.
Your adviser will discuss and agree a fee with you before they provide you with any advice.
This fee could be set as an hourly rate; a flat fee for carrying out a piece of work such as transferring a pension or reviewing your investments; or as a percentage of your investments. This will depend on the adviser.
Once you've chosen a financial adviser, they can start putting together a financial plan for you. To create your plan, they’ll need to find out a bit more about you - such as what you want to achieve, your attitude to risk and your personal circumstances.
With this information, your adviser will be able to recommend products that will help you achieve your goals. They’ll also give you written information about your financial plan explaining the aims of the product, the risks, what you need to do and the charges involved.
An adviser will be able to explain everything, from why they've made their recommendations and the details of the products, to the potential outcome if you decide on a different approach.
Conduct regular reviews
Regular reviews are essential to ensure your financial plan stays on track, especially when so many things can change in your life. An annual review is usually sufficient but, if something significant happens, such as you get married, start a family, buy a new house or inherit some money, then you should meet with your adviser to make sure your plan still fits your needs.
Your adviser, or your product provider, will also send you an annual statement outlining how your financial products are performing. This will help you assess your plans, and stay on target to achieve your financial goals.
Need help finding a financial adviser?
We know that choosing a financial adviser can be a daunting task if you don't know where to start.
Unbiased.co.uk is one of the leading professional advice websites. They will put you in touch with financial advisers in your local area. All you need to do is type in your postcode and they'll provide you with a list of advisers closest to you.
Are you approaching retirement?
Access to impartial guidance
We recommend you seek appropriate guidance or advice to understand your options at retirement. You can get free guidance over the phone or face to face with Pensionwise.
The Money Advice Service (MAS) guide is also available on the Pensionwise site.