A couple of meetings recently have made me question the way we structure our advice process, but after further reflection, it is not our process that is at fault (although every process needs refinement) but how we communicate it before, during and after.
So please take a seat and imagine that you are that prospective client; you need independent financial advice, as you would like guidance towards a happy retirement.
You have found us on the web, been recommended by an existing client, seen us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Vouched For, Unbiased or even been given a card. You have made an initial contact by telephone or email and are speaking to an adviser.
We will arrange an initial meeting, which can be at our offices, (in Stonesby, Leicestershire or Cambridge), in your home or a mutually convenient location. We could even meet virtually, with an extended telephone call, Skype or Facetime, if meeting face to face is too difficult.
During this initial meeting we are trying to see if we are in a position to help. This will depend on your personal objectives, what resources you have, your experience with financial products and your views on financial risk. For some people, completing a draft financial questionnaire best assesses this, but for others it may be a conversation covering objectives and resources. If we have not already provided by e-mail or post our disclosure documents, they will be provided and explained.
Following this meeting we will provide a letter or e-mail explaining what we offer as a service, our detailed costs and a partially completed fee agreement for signature and return.
Once you are happy with the service proposed, we will ask you to sign letters of representation so we can write to your existing product providers. This is so we can understand in detail what you already have and update the initial financial questionnaire.
We will send you an Attitude to Risk questionnaire that asks how you feel about investment risk and reward for completion online or by post.
We will then analyse your financial position and devise recommendations to meet your objectives. We will prepare a formal advice letter and all of the supporting documentation for a formal advice meeting.
At the meeting we will present the advice we are giving, in detail and ask you to complete the application forms and possibly write the cheques for your investments. For almost all retail financial products you have a statutory 30 day “cooling-off” period, to ensure that you are not pressure sold into something inappropriate.
We will implement the advice and send you the paperwork to show everything has been done.
For all investment products, we will be in regular touch to monitor the investments, make any necessary changes and ensure that they continue to meet your objectives. The frequency of contact will depend on the level of service you require. This aftercare is a vital part of any investment strategy, as without it your investments may become unbalanced, poorly performing and riskier than you are comfortable with.
This seems like rather a longwinded process to buy an ISA or a pension, but I believe that we could not shorten the process without disadvantaging you or breaking the rules of the Financial Conduct Authority.
We are required to “know our client”, you, which goes beyond just making sure we know who you say you are; we need to be able to show that we understand your needs, wants and have recommended appropriate solutions.
A further complication is that we are required to offer holistic advice; in finance, like so many other things, some actions are mutually exclusive. Paying off your mortgage with your pension tax free cash will reduce the income you have in retirement. Very few actions are without some consequences and some consequences can be detrimental.
Financial advice is really a process, extending for your lifetime, as your needs and resources change. We believe that efficiency comes with having a plan, tested and flexed at regular intervals, so you need to be able to understand your adviser and be comfortable with them.
If you would like to know more about how we can help you plan and realise your financial goals then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01223 792 196.
The information contained is for guidance only and does not constitute financial advice. It is based on our understanding of UK legislation, whether proposed or in force, and market practice at the time of writing. Levels, bases and reliefs from taxation may be subject to change. Accordingly no responsibility can be assumed by Martin-Redman Partners its officers or employees, for any loss in connection with the content hereof and any such action or inaction.