Getting ready for advice

You’ve decided that you’re going to use the services of a financial adviser.  For many of us, that can be a daunting prospect for a number of reasons.

First of all, you’re going to have to divulge a lot of personal information to a stranger.

What will they want to know? How much do you have to tell them? Will they judge you on how much or how little you’re saving?

Then there’s the question of trusting them with your information. Are they then going to try and rip you off? Or blind you with jargon? And how much will it all cost?                                                                                             

A financial adviser is there to do the best for you. They’re interested in your circumstances, needs and future aspirations. They want to use their skills and experience to find you a bespoke solution that you wouldn’t be able to find on your own, and one that fits with your priorities and budget.

But once you’ve found an adviser, what’s next? Doing a bit of preparation beforehand can help you to feel more comfortable about your first session. To help you, we’ve put together four things you can do in advance:

Prepare a monthly budget

A good place to start is to make a list of all the money you receive and pay out on a regular basis.

Your income will include your salary and any other regular money you receive such as a bonus or earnings from investments.

Your outgoings can be split into ‘fixed’ and ‘variable’ expenses. Fixed expenses are things like your mortgage, utility bills, food etc. Variable expenses are those that change from month-to-month and are a bit more of a luxury – for example eating out, going to the cinema, or going on holiday etc.

This might seem pretty basic but it’s not something everyone has at their fingertips if they’re asked for it. 

Having this overall picture of your finances helps an adviser to work out how much you can afford to commit to your financial plan each month. It also enables them to identify where you might be able to cut back and save more, depending on what your financial goals are. As you look towards the future, it also helps them to think about how much income you might need when you retire.  

Gather details of any existing pension plans and savings you have

It’s important that your adviser has an understanding of your overall financial position so he can help you make decisions.  If you’ve already been saving in a pension plan, gather together details of what these are and, if you can, find out their current value.

You should have received an annual statement for each of your pensions.  These will give you the information that your adviser needs.  If you don’t have them to hand, don’t worry, if you know the pension provider you can get in touch with them or your adviser will be able to help. 

You may have savings in ISAs or other savings plans or may have some investment in property.  Having the details handy means that your adviser can see your overall financial position. 

If you’re already retired and receiving an income, have these details to hand. 

List your goals

Your adviser will want to know what you want to achieve – what’s the bigger picture.  

When you’re planning for retirement, your adviser will want to make sure you’re saving enough money to enjoy the retirement you’d really like. They’ll also want to understand the kind of retirement you might want to have.   

If you’re already retired and receiving an income, your adviser will want to make sure that you’ve got enough income to live the way you want to in retirement but also that you don’t run out of money.   

You might be buying a new house, in which case you’ll be looking for a mortgage but also protection insurance to cover the mortgage and regular outgoings to make sure your family is covered if anything happens to you.

Writing a list of these long-term plans will help your adviser to decide what financial solutions are right for you. They’ll be able to judge how much flexibility is needed with each solution in case your life moves on and your goals change with it.

At the moment it may be that you’re concerned about the impact of coronavirus on your pensions or investments.  You might want to think about some of these key areas:

  • if you’re nearing retirement – do you need to make any changes to your retirement plans?
  • if you’re already taking money from your pension – should you be taking a different amount?
  • how to protect yourself and your family if anything should happen to you
  • if you’re experiencing a significant life event such as bereavement, divorce, starting a family, or buying a home you may want  a review of your overall financial position.

Have a list of questions

Be prepared and don’t be afraid to ask your own questions too. For example, what can you expect after the first session, how do they get paid, are they restricted to only recommending specific providers, what do they specialise in?

This gives your adviser an opportunity to show you how open and transparent they are as a business and helps you build up a trusted relationship.

You might also find it useful to take notes at the meeting. 

When it comes to charges, they’ll usually give you a copy of their fee structure before you sign on the dotted line. They’ll also be happy to talk you through their qualifications and the experience they have in helping people like you. 

Hopefully these pointers will help you to feel prepared and confident about seeing your potential new adviser for the first time. They might end up looking after your money for a long time, so it’s important to feel comfortable with them from the get-go.

We’ve prepared a short checklist to help ensure you get the best out of your meeting with your adviser.  

Advice checklist

  • How long have you been providing financial advice ?
  • Do you have any client references you can share with me? 
  • Do you often advise people similar to me (earnings/employment type etc.)?
  • Do you charge a fee for the initial consultation?
  • What happens after my first meeting?
  • What are your ongoing fees for advice and what is included?
  • What form will the meeting take and where?
  • Breakdown of your monthly budget.
  • Details of any pensions that you already have.
  • Details of any savings or investments that you have.
  • An idea of your future goals.
  • Questions you want to ask at the meeting.
  • What are the charges and how does they compare with other providers ?
  • What are the risks?
  • What happens if I need my money earlier than planned?
  • What are the tax implications of the actions you are recommending?
  • What happens if my situation changes?
  • How often will you review my position?

  • How long have you been providing financial advice ?
  • Do you have any client references you can share with me? 
  • Do you often advise people similar to me (earnings/employment type etc.)?
  • Do you charge a fee for the initial consultation?
  • What happens after my first meeting?
  • What are your ongoing fees for advice and what is included?
  • What form will the meeting take and where?

  • Breakdown of your monthly budget.
  • Details of any pensions that you already have.
  • Details of any savings or investments that you have.
  • An idea of your future goals.
  • Questions you want to ask at the meeting.

  • What are the charges and how does they compare with other providers ?
  • What are the risks?
  • What happens if I need my money earlier than planned?
  • What are the tax implications of the actions you are recommending?
  • What happens if my situation changes?
  • How often will you review my position?