Asking the right questions to achieve the best outcomes.
In the fourth of Russell’s blogs, we share the 20 questions to ask any financial adviser in your initial meeting.
A blog from Russell Skinner, APFS CFP™ Chartered FCSI (Financial Planning)
Chartered Financial Planner and Managing Director of Blue Sky Financial Planning
Once you have chosen one or two advisers or firms you like, it’s time to prepare yourself for the initial meeting. We appreciate that deciding who is best to advise and guide you on all matters financial is difficult, so we have provided a set of questions all great financial advisers should be able to answer confidently and easily.
The answers you receive won’t definitively determine who you should deal with, but it should mean you are unlikely to make any horrendous choices you come to regret. We understand that chemistry and the style of the adviser is also extremely important.
We are not suggesting that you ask all these questions up front, but most of them should be covered either by you or the adviser in the meeting.
Questions to ask before the initial meeting:
- Will I be paying for the initial consultation? In our opinion this should be at the adviser’s expense.
- Are you a tied, restricted, or an independent adviser? Just be sure that their limitations won’t hinder your choices down the line… more about this later.
- Who will I be dealing with and what are their qualifications and experience?
Then, at the meeting:
- What is the status of the company? Chartered is seen as a standard bearer for good practice and expertise.
- What is your investment approach and philosophy?
- What are your initial engagement costs?
- How much does investment advice typically cost?
- Do you undertake comprehensive planning which is evaluated frequently? If so, can you give me a client example?
- How often will we have a meeting to review my/our circumstances?
- If you are away on holiday or unwell, who else will deal with me and who would know my circumstances?
- How big is your team?
- Do you have any similar customers to me? If so, what have you done for them?
- Can you help me understand at what stages would I incur costs?
- I’m looking for continuity of advice. Can you tell me what the succession plans are for the company? What happens if my/our adviser leaves/retires?
- How many clients do you work with and how many members of staff do you have to service your clients?
- What is the best thing you have ever done for one of your clients?
- Would you be willing for me to talk with a couple of your clients that you have helped, in a similar vein to what I/we are looking for?
- Value for money is difficult to differentiate from costs at times. How will you demonstrate this?
- Are there any cost implications when withdrawing money? Blue Sky’s view is why would you penalise a client with restrictions on exit or transfer elsewhere. If they believe in their offering, they should ensure that you never have cause to doubt whether they are delivering value.
- How long will the process take if I/we decided to work with you? Roughly, as a guide, the steps are initial meeting, advice meeting, recommendations report, implementation.
- Can you describe your typical client journey with your firm?
- Do you flex your service in accordance with my IT skills, general financial knowledge and understanding?
- Finally, what touch points/communication will I have from you throughout the year? Is relevant information provided, specifically by the company itself, as opposed to information from other sources being passed on.
We hope you find this list useful in helping you think about what to ask your adviser, and when. Remember, you are receiving a service that is highly valuable, but you should always feel respected and understood. Great customer service is something we pride ourselves on at Blue Sky and we never shy away from taking the time to explain any aspect of financial planning fully.
More about Blue Sky Financial Planning
Here at Blue Sky, we are an independent financial planning firm with registered IFAs and wealth managers within our employed team. Regulated by the FCA with an impeccable reputation for client services and no upheld complaints, we thrive on making our clients’ hopes and dreams come true. We take a holistic approach wherever possible and only recommend products and services that will serve the end goals of the clients. You can learn more about the Essence of Blue Sky here.