Key questions to ask your financial adviser
If you’re approaching retirement and want to see a financial adviser, it’s a good idea to speak to a few so you can compare the service they offer and find out if they’re right for you. Here are some questions to get you started.
Q1: What do you charge and how much am I likely to pay?
A financial adviser must tell you how much they charge before you’re taken on as a client (it’s part of the rules that all advisers have to abide by). Some may charge per hour, others may charge a fixed fee or a percentage of the value of your pension pot.
But that may not help you work out how much you could end up paying. The adviser may not be able to tell you exactly what you will pay, but they should be able to give you an indication and perhaps even an upper limit.
Q2: What services do you offer? Are you independent?
The adviser must tell you what services they offer, including whether they’re an independent adviser. The phrase ‘independent financial adviser’ has a particular meaning that’s set out in the rules that financial advisers have to follow. To be called independent, a financial adviser must be able to offer a broad range of retail investment products and give consumers unbiased and unrestricted advice based on a comprehensive and fair analysis of the market. An adviser may be what’s called ‘restricted’ if they only recommend certain types of investment products or products from a limited number of providers.
Q3: If you’re not independent, can you look at products from across the market?
A restricted financial adviser who only recommends certain type of products may still be a good option (for example, they may specialise in retirement advice only). But it is worth checking that they can recommend products from a wide range of providers. If they can only recommend products from a limited number, you may not get the choice you need.
Q4: Do you have qualifications that are above the minimum you’re required to take?
All financial advisers have to have some qualifications, by law. Since 2013, financial advisers must have a qualification called QCF Level 4. Quite a few advisers have taken additional exams, so it is worth asking what qualifications the adviser has and what these demonstrate. Some types of advice require the adviser to have specialist qualifications – pension transfers and equity release for example. I
Q5: Do you have many clients who are in a similar position to me?
Some financial advisers will only deal with people who have a pension pot of a certain size, or a certain amount of money to invest (e.g. £50,000 or £100,000). Other advisers are happy to advise customers no matter what the size of their pension fund is.
It’s always worth finding out if an adviser has a lot of experience of advising clients in a similar position to yours.
Q6: Will you give me ongoing advice and what will this cost?
You may not need ongoing advice, but if that is something you think may be useful in the future, it’s worth asking about it and finding out the likely costs.