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Things to look for in a financial advisor or financial planner

Financial Advisor can cover a broad range of specialities and disciplines. Some specialise in just pensions and retirement advice or investments. It can cover most aspects of financial advice. Some people will refer to themselves as financial planners, which is a term usually reserved for those that provide comprehensive plans to achieve your long-term goals, but both terms often incorporate aspects of each other.

Understand what you need

Selecting the best professional for you can be partly dependent on what you need. For example, a specialist in pension planning might not be the best choice if you’re looking for a plan for investment. Ask yourself what you want to get out of your relationship with a financial advisor? Is it long-term stability for your business, a plan for retirement, or simply some short-term advice to help you make the most of your funds? Some people just want to save enough each year for a family holiday, while others might want to pay their mortgage off as quickly as possible. Write down your own personal goals.

Choosing the best professional for you

Lots of people have used a financial advisor or financial planner. Recommendations from friends and family can be good, as can testimonials and reviews. A recommendation can even come from a solicitor or your accountant. Some people recommend you meet with at least a couple of them to assess which is the best fit for you.

All financial planners must be certified. In Ireland, you want to deal with someone that is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). This gives you peace of mind, knowing they have passed the rigorous exams and met experience requirements. They are also more adept at not just helping with financial products, but planning, so the financial side of your life aligns with your goals.

Some people can feel intimidated or pressured if they’re not used to dealing with financial matters. However, it’s crucial to remember that you’re in charge. Make sure everything is explained to you in a way that you understand and never be afraid to ask questions. One of the reasons we try to provide such a friendly service is to put people at ease, and the fact most of our clients are longstanding is testament to the quality of the advice we provide. We won’t sell you a product then leave, we’re here for the long-haul.

A list of all Certified Financial Planners is available on the Financial Planning Standard Board’s website www.FPSB.ie.

Restricted advice

Some people turn to their banks or an advisor that is tied to one company. Crucially, this means they can only advise you about the products and services that company offers. This severely limits the chance of you getting the best products for your current situation. Some advisors will offer products from more than one company, but still be restricted. Selling their own products is obviously preferable from their perspective, but it isn’t always the best option for an investor.

An independent company can take advantage of products offered by all companies, and they’ll be transparent about any commissions they receive too.

DIY investing

Technology has seen an increasing number of apps and websites pop-up that promise to make investing easy for everyone. However, there is no substitute for experience and many people aren’t successful using these. If people are successful, the returns are often lower than could have been achieved by an experienced professional.

Think long-term

At your initial meeting with any professional you should ask about their ongoing service. Will they provide regular reviews of your products and situation to ensure you continue to receive the best service, and what will the cost be for this?

A good advisor won’t just be interested in the products. They will want to gain insight into how you live now and want to live in the future. What your attitude is towards risk. They need a complete understanding of your situation to provide the best advice that actionable and effective.

Be aware of the fees

There are different ways for financial advisors and financial planners to make money. Some charge you fees directly, others receive commissions for the products they sell, or sometimes it’s a combination of the two. However they earn their money, they should be transparent about it. Lots of financial planners will offer a free initial consultation to help you decide whether to use their services. You should have a clear understanding of their fees by the end of this.

Questions you can ask a potential candidate

At what intervals will you review my portfolio?

Will I always see the same person, or will it be different people within the company?

How much experience do you and your company have?

Do you offer independent or restricted advice?

What fees will I need to pay and when will I need to pay them?

What qualifications do you have?

If you have any affiliations, how can I be sure the products are the best for me?

Choose experienced professionals that have your best interests at heart

At Mason Wealth Management we pride ourselves on putting you first as our core approach. We have full faith in our process which has delivered successful outcomes for our clients’ time and time again. We have been working with professionals in the pharmaceutical, medical, IT, business and financial sectors for over 20 years.

We believe it is only through respect, a can-do attitude and being enthusiastic in our work that we can achieve life-long relationships with our clients.

Mason Wealth Management operate an open communication policy and our ongoing full-service financial planning includes:

  • Pension and Retirement Planning
  • Savings and Investment Advice
  • Estate Planning and Inheritance
  • Life Insurance
  • Income Protection
  • Critical Illness Cover
  • Succession Planning for Business

Don’t hesitate to get in touch and we can start your journey towards a brighter and healthier financial future.