Your first meeting with a financial adviser
First published 24 April 2019 • Updated 24 April 2019
Once you’ve used the Unbiased Connect tool to find a suitable financial adviser, what comes next? Well, usually you’ll arrange a meeting to talk with your adviser face-to-face. There are several reasons for doing this. Most importantly, you want to find out:
- What can this financial adviser do for me?
- How can these services help me to achieve my goals?
- What will be the cost of any advice I receive?
- What value or other benefits can I expect from this advice?
- Is this financial adviser the best fit for me?
And of course:
- Do I want to proceed with financial advice now?
By doing a little preparation for your meeting and knowing what questions to ask, you can make informed decisions about your next steps.
Your first phone call with your adviser
Your first contact with your financial adviser will probably be on the phone – and it’s a good opportunity to clarify some details so that neither of you waste your time.
Before you do anything else, ask your adviser to tell you the name of their firm, and check that it’s the one named in the email you’ve received from Unbiased. This ensures it’s not a cold caller and is the FCA-regulated firm that Unbiased has found for you.
Once you’ve confirmed the adviser’s identity, give a quick recap of your reasons for wanting to speak to them. The adviser will then tell you whether or not they can help, and you can arrange a mutually convenient time and place to meet. Many advisers will agree to come and see you at your home or workplace.
Here are some other questions to ask during your phone call
- ‘Are you about to advise on the whole of the market?’
Advisers found through Unbiased can be either independent (IFAs) or restricted whole-of-market advisers. The former can advise on all providers and product types, while the latter can advise on all providers but on a restricted range of product types. Both kinds of adviser will provide fully unbiased advice. No advisers found through Unbiased will be restricted by product provider (but those found through other sources may be).
- ‘What qualifications do you have?’
You should make sure that your adviser is suitably qualified in the relevant advice area(s). Make a note of any qualifications they mention, and look them up on our Qualifications page so you know what areas they cover and what the grading system means. If you are seeking a specialist in a particular field, you’ll be looking for an adviser with a high level qualification in that area.
- ‘What should I bring to our first meeting?’
Even if your first meeting is at home, you will want to have any necessary paperwork to hand. As a rule of thumb this should include documents about any savings, investments, insurance policies, pensions and your mortgage if you have one, but ask your adviser if they need to see anything else. Your adviser may suggest that you complete a ‘fact find’ – a short document outlining your financial circumstances – either in advance of the meeting or during it.
Tips for your meeting with your adviser
A few days before your meeting, set aside fifteen minutes or so to think about what you want to achieve from it. You might have a clear-cut question in mind, such as ‘I want to start accessing my pension pot’, or it might be more general, such as ‘I want to optimise my family’s finances in the years ahead’. This way, when you go into your meeting you’ll have a set goal in mind.
Your conversation may range over a number of different topics, over and above your main enquiry. This is because your adviser will want a clear overall picture of your circumstances, lifestyle, responsibilities, goals and future plans, in addition to financial information. Good financial advice needs to consider your situation as a whole, so be patient with this process. You may even discover that your original goal is not in fact the best course of action, and may end up making alternative plans with your adviser’s input.
Here are some more general guidelines for a successful adviser meeting.
1. If you’re in couple, see your adviser together
It’s highly recommended for both partners to be present for any discussion with an adviser, regardless of whether one of you is more financially-minded. The adviser will need to hear from both of you to form an accurate picture of your goals together.
2. Ask as many questions as you can think of
When it comes to finances, there are no silly questions. What’s more, things you have always assumed to be true might be false. Don’t pass up the opportunity of having an expert on hand – take nothing for granted.
3. Check that you’ve understood
When your adviser explains something to you, make sure you’ve followed exactly what they mean. For example, try repeat it the explanation back to them in your own words, so they can tell you if you’ve misinterpreted anything.
4. Request examples
If you’re talking about a particular area of advice (such as accessing a pension), ask your adviser if they have any case studies or examples you can look at, to see how the process works in practice.
5. Have a conversation about risk
It’s important to know what advisers mean by ‘risk’, and to understand your own tolerance to risk. All financial products and transactions involved some element of risk, so a key aspect of advice is finding the products that suit your risk profile.
6. Make sure they explain benefits and/or drawbacks
Obviously, you want to know what you stand to gain if you choose to take advice. Have your adviser explain clearly and simply what services they will perform for you, and how you can expect to benefit in the short, medium and long term – whether through investment returns, improved security, peace of mind or something else.
Agreeing fees for financial advice
Before you decide to proceed to financial advice, your adviser will be able to tell you what their fees would be. Bear in mind that the whole point of financial advice is that it should make more money for you in the long run than the initial cost. Consider the fees alongside the benefits that the adviser has explained to you, and ask the adviser to justify them if necessary.
You can get a rough idea of what you can expect to pay using our Cost of Advice tool. However, advice fees and scenarios can vary considerably, so always ask for a firm quote. If the quote is significantly different from the estimate given by our tool, ask the adviser to explain why.
If you haven’t already found your adviser, you can do so quickly using our Connect tool below.
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