Getting The Best From A Financial Adviser

Do your homework

Unfortunately, using an adviser doesn't absolve you from all the hard work - if you're to get the best from an adviser you need to have a clear idea of what your financial aims are:

- what sort of advice do you need? Perhaps a one-off assessment of your investment position, if, say, you've just come into a lump sum through inheritance, redundancy or retirement. Maybe you need regular investment advice, even someone to take over the m>- what are your investment aims? Do you want income or capital growth? How much can you invest - on a regular basis, or as a lump sum? How long can you invest for? How much risk do you want to take?

Ideally, you should also find out something about basic financial planning and the main types of investment available (see Section ). The more knowledge you acquire before going to an adviser, the more fruitful your discussion is likely to be.

Contact two or three advisers

There are many sources of investment advice - general advisers, insurance advisers, stockbrokers, banks, building societies, solicitors, accountants, or going to investment providers direct. On pp. 145-51, you'll find details of each to help you find the right type of adviser.

Draw up a shortlist of two or three advisers and talk to them all before settling on one. Compare the questions they ask you as well as the answers they give to your questions, and avoid advisers who don't ask enough questions. Any adviser should find out enough about your financial situation and aims so that they can identify the right investments for you. The Financial Services Act 1986 reinforces this duty, and specifically requires investment advisers to 'know their customers'. Many advisers will ask you to complete a special form as a basic checklist of your circumstances and requirements.

Getting Investment Advice

It is not often that any man can have so much knowledge of another, as is necessary to make instruction useful. Samuel Johnson

Growing wealth and deliberate government policy are encouraging even small investors to take a more active approach to saving and investing, and to consider a wider range of investments. Even those who count their savings in hundreds rather than thousands are tempted by high-profile media campaigns to buy shares in privatisation issues, such as British Telecom and British Gas. More than 20 per cent of the population are now shareholders; 65 per cent of households... see: Getting Investment Advice

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