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How to Choose an Independent Financial Adviser

Jul 21, 2008
We tend to turn to all manner of people for advice and often take pot-luck on whether the person we have asked is especially knowledgeable, whether we can rely on them to be giving impartial and independent advice, or whether their answer starts with the phrase "If I were you..." When it comes to seeking reliable advice about making your own money work its hardest for you, however, there is no need to leave so much down to mere chance and the luck of the draw - you should consider choosing an Independent Financial Adviser.

The title says it all. An Independent Financial Adviser will be independent - he will not be in the employment of a single company whose financial products he sells on commission or for any other consideration. His financial advice will be just that - advice based on an up to the minute and extensive knowledge of the many and varied financial products available on the market. He will not tell you what to do or what decisions to make, but will place before you all the well-reasoned options from which you can make your own informed choice.

Your search for a reliable and fully competent Independent Financial Adviser is made easier by the fact that each one has been licensed and continues to be regulated by the Financial Services Authority. You can be reassured by the knowledge that such recognition does not come easily, but is a measure of the individual adviser's professionalism and the qualifications he has had to earn.

When choosing an Independent Financial Adviser, therefore, you might want to check out the particular qualifications he or she has been awarded. These can come from a number of well-established and respected institutions, of which some of the best known are the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Institute, the Personal Finance Society (PFS), the Pensions Management Institute (PMI), the Institute of Financial Planning (IFP), the Securities and Investment Institute (SII), and several others, all of which demand comprehensive knowledge and high-level training in financial services and management. What is more, continuing recognition as an Independent Financial Adviser demands a constant updating of that expertise and knowledge as different financial products come onto the market.

You will know when you have found the right Independent Financial Adviser for you when you are in a position to take - or choose not to take - the advice offered. The Adviser's role is, in fact, a difficult one to get right. In draws a fine line between on the one hand instructing the client what to do and on the other hand expressing a view that comes across as no more than a disinterested opinion. Rather, the advice required of a professional Independent Financial Adviser is the "best advice" from the client's perspective. What the Adviser must try to do is to put himself into the client's position for a moment and base his advice and recommendations purely on what is "best" for his client. This is the final and most difficult test of the independence and objective impartiality of the truly competent Independent Financial Adviser.
About the Author
Sean Horton is a Director of Enhanced Wealth, a whole of market mortgage broker and independent financial adviser specialising in mortgage advice and the associated areas of income protection, mortgage protection, and mortgage life cover.
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