What does a Financial Adviser do?

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What does a Financial Adviser do?

Carolyn Dunion explains the role of a financial advisor.

What exactly does a financial adviser do?

Although it sounds quite straightforward, in that a financial advisor gives financial advice, I think people are a little bit unsure as to what that actually means.

My job as a financial advisor is to help guide people holistically through all of their financial considerations. That includes planning for the life stage that they’re at.

Somebody who’s buying their first home has different considerations than somebody who’s considering retiring. A financial advisor can help people work out what to do at the present time, and also what they should be doing for the future.

One way to describe it is advice for perfectly clever people who just don’t understand things like pensions and investments. These can be very complicated, so it’s just shining a light on that and giving a little bit of education around things people need to consider – with specific product advice for each individual.

What services does a financial advisor offer?

We will look very holistically at each individual’s objectives for what they’re hoping to achieve financially.

The first part of that can be quite fun. It’s considering people’s bucket lists – what they hope to achieve in retirement. Perhaps they’ve got a dream to move somewhere fabulous or go travelling around the world. We’ll start by having a good conversation around what they would hope to do.

Having got that information from the client, we will then look at a range of different products. We always discuss things like mortgages, protection and life insurance et cetera. But we also look at wealth planning.

We’ll look at pensions, which is about saving for retirement, and advise if people are ‘burdened with cash’ – I always say that slightly tongue in cheek, but it is a burden if you don’t know what to do with your money.

You need to know at the very least that it will be protected from inflation, but really you want it to grow. There’s lots of different opportunities to do that. So we’ll look at savings and investments and that kind of thing.

For some clients we’ll look at tax management and vehicles they should consider to protect their assets, or get the best out of them.

But generally speaking it’s just a case of touching base to see what the client’s situation is and what products they should be considering for the future.

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The initial conversation is completely free and with no obligation. We usually take some information from clients so that we can offer meaningful advice.

When should I see a financial advisor?

Most people tend to think about seeing a financial advisor when they are considering their retirement – but actually the earlier we start that relationship, the better your retirement will usually be. Ideally I’d want to speak to everybody as soon as they start earning money.

But people will come to me when they have a need. Perhaps they have inherited money or they want to buy a property. They have perhaps started a family or are starting to wonder when they can retire. We would ideally see clients once a year, look at their needs and review their plans.

Retirement planning is something you might be doing for decades. You’ll have a specific goal, but there might be things that take you off track, or your objectives might change. So meeting with a financial advisor annually is a really good thing to do.

What’s the process? What would happen if I called you today?

Initially we offer a ‘discovery call’ – a conversation with you to get an idea of what you’re looking for and why you’ve decided to get in touch.

I would explain the services we offer and go through any costs. Then you can go away and have a think about whether it’s something that you would like to do. If you want to go ahead and have a more meaningful conversation, we would set up a meeting to go through things.

I might need some paperwork if you’ve got existing pensions or investments, and we can help you get that. People often think they have a few pensions but aren’t sure where they are. We can help get all of the paperwork to facilitate that more meaningful conversation.

Does it cost for that initial conversation with you?

We don’t charge for the discovery call. Everything depends very much on the person’s circumstances and what they’re hoping to achieve. In that initial conversation with them I can properly advise on what costs might apply.

You would leave that conversation without having incurred any cost, and secondly, with a clear idea of what you might be charged for the type of service you’re looking for.

What else do we need to know about the financial advice process?

The only other thing I would like to do is encourage you to get in touch. It’s always worth having that initial conversation, even if it’s not the right time for you to actually get full financial advice.

I think a lot of people are a little bit daunted about starting the process. It’s something you think you’ll do when you have time, but that time is never there. It’s not always urgent to have that conversation, but we try to be really approachable and we’re always keen to speak to people.

We just want to shine a little bit of light on what’s involved in the process specifically for you – not in a daunting way, but in a way that feels good for clients.

The value of pensions & investments and any income from them can fall as well as rise. You may not get back the amount originally invested.