Taking financial advice can make a real difference in helping you achieve your aspirations, at all stages of life. As a Chartered, independent advice practice, we view our independence as being a vital component of the service we offer to clients, and we are proud of this status. Of equal importance is our ability to take a holistic approach to financial planning, whereby we consider your wider financial planning concerns and focus on your financial goals. In this article, we will explain why we value our independent status, and how taking a holistic view can help us tailor the advice that we give.
Restricted vs Independent Advice
Financial Advisers and Planners fall into one of two camps, ‘Restricted ‘and ‘Independent’. Being ‘Restricted’ means an Adviser can only recommend products from a limited selection or product range. For example, this could be an Adviser in a bank or other product provider, who can only consider and recommend products and services from that company. It could also mean an Adviser who can only advise on a limited number of areas of financial planning or is unable to review existing arrangements that you may have in place.
This contrasts with an ‘independent’ Adviser, such as FAS. As independent Advisers, we can consider products from a wide range of companies across the market and will give unbiased and unrestricted advice.
In practice, being independent means that we can take a totally impartial view when it comes to selecting a solution or product and can take into account all relevant criteria – such as cost, features and ease of administration – so that we can recommend products that provide the most appropriate fit to a particular set of circumstances.
Using a Restricted Financial Adviser doesn’t necessarily mean you run the risk of receiving poor advice. All Financial Advisers must have a similar minimum level of qualifications and meet the same standards. Using a Restricted Adviser, however, does mean that the choices available to you may be limited, and the advice they give you may not be the best available, or meet your needs.
Taking a holistic approach
At FAS, we always take a holistic approach to financial planning with our clients. This means we really take the time to understand all aspects of the complex picture that makes up a client’s financial circumstances. Of course, as part of the initial assessment, we will need to understand the current arrangements a client holds, such as existing pension plans or investment accounts, life assurance and other protection arrangements. This analysis is crucial to understand how appropriate the current plans are and whether they can be improved. However, a holistic planning approach goes much deeper, to look at how these arrangements fit into the “bigger picture” that makes up an individual’s current financial position and their aims for the future.
Holistic planning also aims to help clients define their financial goals and objectives, so that the advice we then give is tailored to help achieve that goal. Often clients have several objectives and goals, and using a holistic approach can help clients place those targets in a priority order.
Of course, life doesn’t always go according to plan, and circumstances change from time to time. For example, a client could lose their job, receive an inheritance, face divorce, be diagnosed with an unexpected illness, or welcome a new addition to the family, any of which could force a shift in those priorities. By reviewing a holistic plan regularly, we can look to adapt existing arrangements to meet the challenges or opportunities presented by the change in circumstances.
One particular area that benefits from taking this approach is when we meet a client who is considering their retirement options. For example, we help clients to identify the level of retirement income with which they will feel comfortable, by considering all aspects of a client’s position. This can help focus a client on the affordability of the kind of retirement that they wish to achieve, and also potentially help them come to a conclusion on other planning decisions, such as whether early retirement is a sensible decision.
This approach often identifies areas that need close attention that the client hasn’t given any thought to. These can be as varied as looking at the implications for Inheritance Tax if the client were to die, to looking at financial planning to help children and grandchildren or considering alternative ways of generating an income in a tax efficient manner.
Getting the most out of financial planning
We feel that choosing a Financial Adviser that takes a holistic approach can help tailor the advice and solutions to an individual’s precise requirements, and take into account important aspects that are relevant that could be overlooked by traditional financial advice. We also are firm believers in the benefits that true independence can bring to the advice proposition.
If you would like to obtain holistic advice, speak to one of our experienced Advisers to discuss your requirements, here.
The value of investments and the income they produce can fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Investing in stocks and shares should be regarded as a long term investment and should fit in with your overall attitude to risk and your financial circumstance.