The best way to find a financial adviser is often through a personal recommendation, but even this has potential pitfalls. A client may be perfectly happy with their financial adviser, but at the same time be blissfully unaware that their adviser has been earning high levels of commission because of the products they have recommended.
Charges are important, but this does not mean that cheapest is best; it rarely is. Of greater relevance is transparency of charges so you can determine exactly what you are paying.
How an adviser is paid is fundamental to your chances of receiving impartial advice. If they are fee-based then their interests are aligned with yours. If they are commission-based there is the potential for a conflict of interests, especially if the most appropriate course of action is for you to do something that does not generate a commission payment.
Ongoing service should also be an important consideration. This service should include a regular analysis of your portfolio and your circumstances, to ensure that your finances remain in the best possible shape to meet your objectives.
Finally, the knowledge and resources of your adviser should be considered. If you deal with an adviser you need to feel that they are competent. This may be demonstrated by their experience and the examinations that they hold. The Certificate of Financial Planning needs to be passed before somebody is able to give advice. These exams in themselves are not adequate. You should look for experience and qualifications in addition to this.
As important is the back-up and resources they have. Individual advisers are not capable of providing specialist advice in every aspect of financial planning.
In summary, advisers should be able to demonstrate:
* Fee-based transparent charging structure.
* Professionally qualified advisers.
* Specialist technical resource available to the adviser.
* High level of ongoing service tailored to the client