Did you ever go to your bank, insurance or investment company and say to yourself 'I wonder if I am getting unbiased advice, or am I just being sold something?' Do you find it difficult to believe that you are getting the right advice? Do you really trust the person who is advising you?
These are all typical questions that rush momentarily through our heads and because of the lack of time or expertise, we 'accept' what is being proposed more out of expediency than belief.
We need to trust but we also can arm ourselves with a little knowledge to ensure at least that the person who is advising us is fully qualified to do so.
Finding an advisor
Choosing an adviser is not really a difficult task.
This has recently been made all the more easy by the Central Bank of Ireland financial adviser compliance regulations.
Under new compliance regulations, mortgage intermediaries will now have to follow their insurance and investment intermediary counterparts and issue a Terms of Business booklet to each new client.
This booklet will not only outline how they are remunerated but it will also show what product providers they represent – in other words, in the case of mortgages, how many lending agencies are held or how many insurance agencies are held.
So even before you start the interview, you can check whether you are going to receive "best advice" or be restricted to that adviser’s possible limited agencies and therefore biased advice.
Put all together, finding an independent authorised financial adviser to obtain the best possible unbiased and independent advice in the one place is akin to finding the Golden Fleece. But they are out there. Check the Central Bank website for the list of advisers in your area.
Once you have found full supplier choice, there are two more features you should look for in an adviser.
Experience – giving full supplier choice to a graduate straight out of college may not compare to a person with 25 + years financial experience.Knowing how to advise is as important as the full choice of supplier.
Typically, experienced advisers will have qualifications such as QFA (Qualified Financial Adviser), membership of financial associations (e.g. Institute of Bankers) or have a wealth of financial experience that you can be comfortable with.
Trust. You can have full supplier choice, huge experience and qualification but if you cannot trust your adviser or believe in the advice that is being given, then your meeting is not going to be fruitful.
Customers stay with their institutions for a myriad of reasons - loyalty ('I opened my account 40 years ago…') good service, the hassle of changing, they like their adviser and because of these reasons, getting 'best advice' is down the pecking order.
However, times are changing and consumers are beginning to realise that it’s better in their pockets than in their institution’s pocket. Just like your consumer products you should shop around when it comes to financial advisers.