How to find a financial planner you can trust

Navigating your finances can often be a troublesome and gruelling task, with many people inclined to leave it at the very bottom of their to-do list. But eventually, we all need to eat the frog, so to speak.

Organising your finances will give you more time and freedom to think about where you want to end up on your journey with money.

One way to make this whole process a lot more manageable is to work with a financial planner. If you decide to take this route, the next task is finding someone you can trust.

Our reputation precedes us

According to the FCA’s Financial Lives Report, only 39% of British consumers claimed to trust financial advisers to act in their best interests, and a mere 6% of UK adults said that they had used a regulated financial adviser in the past 12 months.

A lot of this resistance comes from a lack of clarity. Not every planner is the same – the range of services and charges can vary considerably. In fact, most IFA and financial planning websites do not explicitly state what their charges are. Instead, they will invite potential clients for an initial meeting, free of charge, during which a rate will be presented.

Most planners charge a percentage of your investments, but others, like us, charge fixed fees. Still, depending on your needs and the complexity of your situation, the cost can range from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand pounds.

The services that planners provide can also vary widely from pensions and investments, to more complex areas such as inheritance planning and tax advice. Most can deal with any situation, but many will have specialisms, and some may be restricted in what they can do for you.

So, you’ve got plenty to choose from and you’ve got the opportunity to find a great match. But, one size doesn’t fit all.

How to find the right financial planner for you

Before you start looking, take a moment to think about YOU. Ideally, you want to find a planner that is highly qualified, with a lot of experience and knowledge in the area most relevant to your needs. As a values-oriented firm, we believe it’s very important to find someone that matches your values and makes you feel comfortable.

Here are some important things to consider when looking for a planner you can trust:

  • Directories such as Unbiased or the Personal Finance Society list local advisers and include their qualifications and specialisms.
  • The government’s Money and Pensions Service (Maps) suggests a personal recommendation from your friends, family or colleagues is an effective way to find a trustworthy financial adviser.
  • Any advice you receive should be in writing and, as a client, you should ask for further clarification if there is anything that you do not understand fully.
  • Advisers who do not ask questions should be avoided. In order to provide the most suitable recommendations, a financial adviser must find out about you and your financial and family situation, your savings objectives, general financial knowledge and risk appetite.
  • Most importantly, you should only use a financial adviser that you can forge a relationship with. Consider what sort of person will get the best out of you? How easily do you make decisions? Do you prefer a consultative and caring approach, or do you want someone to tell you what to do?

In the resources section of our website we have compiled a list of great questions to ask a financial planner (prior to meeting with them), along with the ideal answer for each. Feel free to use this document to assist you on your quest to find a financial planner you can trust.

The next steps to take

  • Research local companies to see if their mission and values match up to your personal values.
  • Book in for a meeting or phone call with at least three of the companies on your shortlist.
  • Decide on the person you feel is best equipped to help with your financial situation and individual needs. Ask yourself, are you well-suited to one another? And do you feel that you could trust them?
  • If the answer is yes, then don’t be too scared to take the leap. The sooner you start planning for your financial future, the more time you’ll have to focus on the things that are most important to you.

Our Managing Director, Rebecca Aldridge, spoke at a SavvyWoman event last week on ‘how to find a great financial planner’. Below are the key questions that she suggests you should be asking your prospective planner at the initial meeting:

  • What do you think my top five planning priorities are?
  • What are the main issues you see with my current situation?
  • How will you be able to reassure me that what I want is achievable?
  • How can you help me feel secure in a world of constant change?
  • What does your ongoing service look like? How often will we meet and what will we discuss?
  • Why did you make this career choice?
  • How do your favoured investment portfolios perform against a sensible benchmark?
  • What makes you a better fit for me than other financial planners?

Remember, set the scene by giving a broad overview of your situation – no more than 2 paragraphs – to give the financial planner something to go on and a chance to impress.

If you would like any help with your financial planning, or you would like to discuss any aspect of this article, then please get in touch with us now and speak to one of our financial planners.