Do you know what happens when you take independent financial advice? We look at the advice journey undertaken by Smith & Pinching clients.
When you come to us for independent financial advice, you will follow a carefully determined process that ensures that all clients are treated fairly and consistently and leads to the creation of a financial plan that is tailored to your specific circumstances.
The first meeting or conversation (usually free of charge) will be spent explaining how the advice process works and what fees will be charged at different points along the way.
If we are to advise you, it is imperative that we know everything about your financial situation. In order to do this, we will complete what is known as a factfind – essentially a detailed questionnaire about every aspect of your finances including your income, your expenditure, your pensions, your savings and investments and any protection plans you have in place. We may ask you to give us authority to obtain valuations of existing plans and investments on your behalf, in order to build a complete picture. A factfind meeting may take considerable time, but it is essential. It ensures the suitability of any recommendations we may make.
The next area to explore is what you want to achieve in the future – your financial objectives. Our advice process is specifically focused on creating a plan to achieve these objectives. We will look at your needs now and in the longer term and your aspirations for yourself and your family. We may use lifetime cashflow modelling to demonstrate how different scenarios will affect your financial situation.
Another key element of the discovery process is to get an understanding of how you might cope with investment risk. Risk profiling covers a number of different aspects of your relationship with risk, each of which is separately assessed. Your attitude to risk is an appraisal of your feelings about risk and is measured using a questionnaire and supporting discussions. In tandem with this, we will look at your capacity for loss: this is an assessment of the real numbers involved and measures how much you could conceivably afford to lose if an investment were to fail. Alongside these two important assessments, we will also look at your knowledge and experience of financial matters.
At the end of the risk profiling process, we will come up a risk profile score that reflects how cautious or adventurous you might be when dealing with your finances. We will then ensure that any recommendations we may make are aligned to your risk profile so that you are never exposed to a level of risk that is outside your comfort zone.
Once we know all about your circumstances, your finances, your objectives and your risk profile, we can begin to build your financial plan. This will involve reviewing your existing arrangements to see if they are still suitable for you and researching the whole of the market to find solutions that might better meet your objectives.
We will then present your financial plan in a detailed report that summarises what we have learned about your financial circumstances and plots a route forward. The report may recommend specific products, plans or strategies and will give details of any fees that may be involved if you proceed down the recommended route.
Your financial plan is your roadmap to achieving your financial objectives, but it is important that you review your plan at least annually to ensure that it is still on track. We will discuss an ongoing review service with you: the cost of this will vary depending on a number of factors such as the value of your portfolio and the frequency of your reviews.
Talk to a Smith & Pinching Independent Financial Adviser to ensure that you are on the right track with your financial planning.