Help with pensions can be found in many sources but where do you go if you want professional pension advice tailored to you?
Joel Wood from specialist independent financial advice firm Assured Life Advisers provides guidance on key points to research and what to look out for when looking for help with pensions from an independent financial adviser.
If you are in need of financial advice it is important you know what to look out for and how to find the right support for your needs.
Assured Life Advisers focuses on providing its nationwide clients with expert advice and quality service, as it specialises in helping people get the most from their pensions.
Founded by Warrington-based independent financial adviser Joel Wood, the firm believes everybody has the right to affordable, specialist financial advice.
Joel Wood, an independent financial adviser specialising in retirement advice at Assured Life Advisers, which has more than 70 years combined experience and first-hand knowledge of pensions in England and Wales, has shared some guidance on how to navigate the many available options to find the right independent financial adviser.
- Be clear about the costs
Considering how much financial advice is likely to cost before choosing an independent financial adviser is advised by Joel, who qualified as a financial adviser over 15 years ago.
Some financial advisers may agree to work with you on a fixed-fee basis, which means you can know in advance what the final cost will be, whereas others may work on a percentage-based cost basis in which the final fee will depend on the value of any pensions being reviewed.
A fixed fee will not increase regardless of how long the planning takes so whether your planning takes a month or a year to conclude, you will still end up paying the agreed amount.
Northwest-based Assured Life Advisers works on both a fixed fee and percentage basis, depending on their clients’ needs. This enables Assured Life Advisers’ clients to understand the potential costs, as well as the value, of the financial planning from the outset.
- Ensure you feel comfortable
Choosing an independent financial adviser is an important decision, so it is vital that you feel completely comfortable with whoever you choose to work with.
According to Joel, it is a good idea to sound out a prospective independent pension adviser before you ask for help from them – you don’t need to commit at that point if you are not happy.
Joel said: “Ensure you are able to speak with a prospective financial adviser before asking for their help. The planning process will likely involve several relatively unfamiliar subjects so it is essential that you can ask your adviser to clarify any matters that you don’t understand.
Some advisers are better than others at breaking down complicated subjects using straightforward language, whilst perhaps drawing on anecdotes or other more familiar concepts to make the otherwise incomprehensible, understandable.
Basically – if you don’t feel entirely comfortable, don’t use them.”
- Look for a suitable specialist
Independent Financial Advisers have varying financial specialties, so it’s always a good idea to work with someone who has the specialist knowledge for your specific financial needs.
For example, if you are worried about how you will be able to afford to retire and need to make your pension work harder for you than it currently is, you may need to gain a greater understanding of the relationship between risk and reward.
Or if you are not in the best of health and are worried about providing for your family at a time when you may no longer be here, then you will need to ensure your plans are suitably arranged.
Whatever your circumstances, it is likely that Assured Life Advisers will have an adviser able to help and guide you. After all, mistakes made early on could make all the difference between a manageable retirement and one fraught with uncertainty.
Joel explained: “Don’t be afraid to ask how much of their time is spent helping people in a similar situation to you.
If they happen to be a mortgage specialist that can also offer help with pensions advice then it is probable that they don’t live and breathe pensions on a daily basis and the chances are they are not pension specialists at all.”
- Speak to the financial adviser directly
Joel believes that being able to speak to a financial adviser when looking for help with pensions is important and something you should look out for when searching for the right independent financial adviser.
After all, a good financial adviser is likely to be busy but you are paying for their service so it would be useful if they are able to take your call or get back to you within a reasonable time frame. Plans change, our lifestyles change, and sometimes our lives turn upside down.
Your financial plans should be able to respond to such changes so you will need an attentive independent financial adviser by your side.
Joel explained: “If your financial adviser is slow to respond to your calls, forget it. Some financial advisers employ paraplanners or clerks to handle their work. It can be very disconcerting if the only people you can ever get hold of are those that know very little about your circumstances.
“A number of websites are not actually financial services practices, but third parties who just refer your case to a financial adviser – for a fee.
Knowing how to spot these can be a skill. Don’t waste your time speaking to anyone other than a qualified independent financial adviser.”
- Free initial advice should be offered
Finding an independent financial adviser that offers some free initial advice is important, and Assured Life Advisers provides prospective clients with a free consultation which gives them the opportunity to discuss their needs with an expert.
At the same time, Joel also suggests you should “be wary” of any companies who ask you for payment immediately before you’ve even had the chance to speak to anyone at the firm.
Joel says, “Don’t waste your money paying fees unnecessarily. Find out first whether the advice firm appears a good fit before committing.”
- Don’t limit your search
Don’t feel that you must stick to searching for an independent financial adviser who is based on your local high street. Choose your independent financial adviser based on their expertise first and foremost, rather than their location.
Assured Life Advisers’ office is based in Warrington, Cheshire, but the firm specialises in providing help with pensions nationwide, so the team can assist clients all over the country and often do.
To find out more about Assured Life Advisers and its pension advice services click here.