City thinking, local knowledge

Questions to Ask a Financial Planner

By Questa Chartered

A financial planner is there to help you manage your wealth effectively and achieve your lifestyle goals.

So when you have your first meeting with them, it’s important to make sure you feel confident in the process, the service you’re getting and the whole experience of seeking financial advice.

So what important questions should you ask them?

Have you been approved by the FCA?

Financial planners must be approved and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. This means you can have confidence that they meet industry standards.

It also means that if things go wrong, you’ll be able to access the Financial Services Compensation Scheme or the Financial Ombudsman Service.

The Financial Services Register contains a full list of authorised firms.

What is your experience and what qualifications do you have?

A financial adviser should have at the very least, a Level 4 on the Qualifications and Credit Framework.

But it’s likely that many will have gained further qualifications and certificates, particularly if they specialise in a particular area.

A financial adviser also needs to obtain a Statement of Professional Standing every year.

Are you independent?

This is important, as an independent financial adviser can recommend a wide range of products and providers from the entire market.

By contrast, a restricted adviser can only recommend certain products or providers, and must let you know why they are restricted. For example, they may only be allowed to recommend products from the company they work for.

What type of advice do you offer?

A financial planner must let you know if they have expertise in a particular area, such as investment planning, business protection, shares or pension planning.

They should also be able to tell you if they only focus on financial basics such as setting up a savings account, or much more specialised and long-term financial planning.

This can be crucial, depending on your specific circumstances and financial goals, and help you decide if they’re the right adviser for you.

How much do you charge?

It’s important to find out straight away how much you’ll be expected to pay for financial advice, and whether you’ll have the option of paying a one-off or a regular fee.

Financial planners don’t get commission on the products they recommend, so you can be confident in advance how much you’ll be required to pay.

How often do you communicate with clients?

Your circumstances, objectives and priorities will almost certainly change over time, so it’s important for a financial planner to stay in regular contact with you and encourage you to review your financial plan.

Find out how they’ll be likely to get in touch and how much they tailor their communications to your specific wishes and preferences.

For example, do they offer advice via email, on Zoom or on the phone, or will they only engage with you face to face?

Ask them about these options, whether these carry different costs and if they are suitable for your needs.

Do you offer a continuing service?

Some advisers may only work with clients on a one-off basis, but others may offer an ongoing service, so you can have an annual review and access to professional, regulated financial advice year after year.

Again, depending on your situation and exactly what you want to achieve, this could be an important consideration, as you look to find the right financial adviser for you.

Do you have customer reviews available?

Many of us go online to find out how previous customers feel about a company, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same with your financial planner. Find out if there are testimonials on their website and social media, and reviews on platforms such as Trustpilot.

This can help you get an accurate, honest assessment of a firm and help you decide if it can meet your specific needs.

A financial planner is there to help and support you, so you can make the most of your assets and get what you want out of life. So asking these questions at the very beginning of the process can be crucial in helping you get what you want out of this relationship.

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