Choosing a financial adviser can be a difficult but rewarding decision for a person.
It could mean the difference between achieving fin-ancial ambitions or feeling frustrated and left in the dark.
We believe that it is essential for IFAs to build a strong relationship with their clients to ensure that they offer the best possible solutions to their clients' financial needs.
Many people have difficulty in approaching an IFA for a number of reasons and we feel there are a few things IFAs can do to provide the best possible service to potential clients.
An IFA must at all times be impartial in the advice they offer. They must also be able to demonstrate a wide knowledge of many different subjects if they are to be successful in running an individual's financial affairs.
We have prepared a four-step guide to what we believe a client needs.
The most important role of any IFA is to provide solutions to a client's financial needs and not necessarily just by recommending products.
Realistically, only around 70 per cent of solutions will actually involve recommending products. It is essential that an IFA works with existing products rather than churning them to increase commission.
In some cases, redirection may be best but the IFA must provide a full explanation so the client feels comfortable.
Where an IFA can really add value for money is in the investment choices that are made within a person's portfolio of funds.
The general route adopted by the majority of financial advisers is to choose a managed fund that holds lots of different asset types within one insurance company. The performance of these funds is generally quite poor and often insurance companies are only looking to beat each other and not add client value.
IFAs should be looking to invest globally and sometimes in more exciting markets such as technology, telecommunications and healthcare.
The IFA must be well researched and give guidance on the most rewarding investments.
It is important for clients to receive an annual review to ensure the initial investment choices are still relevant and to assess performance.
A review schedule can be used to give an overview of the performance of a client's new and existing contracts. This ensures they can easily see that the products are working for their needs and requirements.
It is also essential to have regular meetings with clients to review how things are going and to assess how their inv-estments are performing in relation to those of competing providers.
This allows you to build long-term relationships with your clients and to assure them that you are professional and experienced in the choices that you are making.
IFAs should aim to work closely with their clients' other advisers. This is especially important for self-employed clients who may have both an accountant and a solicitor. Regular contact between all advisers ensures they are trying to achieve the same aims.
Information you should request from potential clients
A list of all current policies and assets, including insurance company details and policy numbers.
Authority to write to these companies to find out details of the client's plans.
A breakdown of financial commitments and monthly disposable income.
Their aims and ambitions over the next year, five years and longer.
Information you should PROVIDE TO POTENTIAL CLIENTS
The promise of a full financial analysis of existing products, either free or for an agreed fee.
Whether they will be paying for your services by fees or commission.
The promise, in writing, of an annual review of the client's financial affairs.
How you will demonstrate best advice, for example, how you choose a provider for financial products.
How you research investment markets and your general view on investment.
Your long-term career aspirations. Are you going to be around for some time to build a long-term relationship?
The support your company provides you.
How the company is doing.
A company brochure.