Choosing an IFA

IFAs… interesting species, aren’t they?! You know you need their advice, but you can’t get away from the mental image of men in poorly fitting suits, peddling products for all they’re worth. Yes – we’re well aware of the stigma attached to our profession thanks to a long-gone commission-based past and an unscrupulous few. The question remains though – what should you look for when choosing an IFA?

Well, naturally we’d say, ‘Look no further – we’re here!” The truth of the situation is though that choosing an IFA is entirely subjective. Whoever you choose, it needs to be someone you gel with, who you trust; and who has the knowledge (and stamina!) to see you through a long financial relationship.

So what can you do to find your IFA?

Finding your IFA should be about finding a good match! IFAs are often selective about the kind of client that is right for them, so you should be selective about the kind of IFA that is right for you. Much of this will ultimately centre around an adviser’s ability to present often complicated information clearly; and in their ability to put you at ease. This being the case, we’ve drawn up 5 (hopefully!) practical things you can do to help find an adviser that meets your spec.

1. Don’t be too hasty…

You work hard for your money, so take your time to find someone you genuinely believe has your best interests at heart. All too often, we have people come to us who have had a poor experience else-where. Your IFA’s primary concern should always be ‘you,’ ‘your’ current financial situation and ‘your’ goals. If these don’t really seem to get a mention when meeting a potential IFA, then we’d humbly suggest it might be wise to keep on looking…

2. Treat choosing an IFA the same as you would finding a successful job applicant to interview…

By no means do we suggest you phone up an IFA and interrogate them on where they want to be in 5 years’ time. But, just as a firm checks out the validity of its candidate’s credentials, so too you should check out your potential IFA before enlisting their help! We are (after coffee) a friendly bunch and if we’re worth our salt, we won’t have anything to hide. So, ask away about our credentials and our business!

3. Check references before offering the job…

Following on from the point above, ask to see ‘references.’ These come in the shape of client reviews and a decent IFA will never shy away from showing you how highly his/her clients think of them. So, don’t be worried about offending your IFA – a ‘good’ one will only ever applaud your astuteness!

The industry golden standard for IFA’s is Corporate Chartered Status. This isn’t just a sign of snobbery, in order to become Chartered there are a whole series of rules and regulations you have to comply with. Perhaps most crucially, Chartered status requires excellence of client service. This means actively keeping the client as the focus throughout. So being Chartered can only be a good sign when choosing an adviser.

4. Make sure they’re old enough… but young enough!

This is where some degree of delicacy is required… The last thing you want is to find someone you trust, only to have them retire one-year in. True, you might be lucky that the firm’s replacement is a good one. It doesn’t, however, run hand-in-hand that they will be the right IFA for you. As mentioned above, choosing your IFA should be all about ‘you’ – i.e. who ‘you’ choose and not who you inherit… So, it’s always best to look for someone from the start who knows their stuff but can also see you through.

5. Remember that when choosing an IFA there shouldn’t be anything to lose…

Any good IFA will understand how important it is that you make the right decision for ‘you’ when it comes to your money. As such, most (like us!) offer a free, no-obligation introductory meeting so that you can meet them and get a feel for their approach. This way, you can establish whether your IFA is the right choice for you without incurring bills that make you think twice about moving away. We reiterate – the ultimate sign of a ‘good’ IFA is that they genuinely always have your best interest at heart.

If you’d like to contact us for an introductory (no obligation) meeting (at our expense!), please do give us a call on 01243 767 469 or email us from our contact page – we’d be happy to hear from you!