How to… choose an adviser for your business

As part of Small Business Advice Week we are running a series of articles with helpful advice and tips for SMEs.  Today, unbiased.co.uk CEO Karen Barrett shares the key questions to ask when choosing the right financial adviser for your company’s needs.

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Professional advice enables you to plan for the future and provides you with the expertise to enable your business to grow.  A financial adviser will not only help you to improve your business’ finances but they will also support you in the management of your business by adding specialised skills and knowledge, complementing your existing skills set.  A good financial adviser should also be able to save you time, freeing you up to do the job you are best at – running your business!

Here are some helpful questions to consider when choosing the right adviser for your business:

Q.  What services does your business provide?

Try to choose an adviser who offers the type of services that suits your requirements and has experience of advising companies like yours.   Some will be more general advisers or some may be specialists in tax or expansion planning, so discuss how their particular services will help your business.

Q.  What type of financial adviser are you?

Independent financial advisers (IFAs) are the only type of adviser who can offer advice across the whole market and recommend products from any provider.  Being independent means that they can work on their client’s behalf, free from any ties or restrictions.  Restricted advisers will be limited in some way – this could be in the number of providers they can recommend or they could offer advice on tax and investments but not pension planning.

Q.  What qualifications, accreditations and experience do you have?

There is a minimum level in the UK that advisers have to hold in order to provide financial advice.  Advisers with this level will be able to show you their Statement of Professional Standing (SPS) certificate that proves they have met the requirements.  Advisers can also take any of a huge number of additional ‘specialist’ qualifications to improve the knowledge and understanding they have about a particular area.  View a list of adviser qualifications and what they mean.

Q.  How do you charge for your services and how much?

Ask if there is an initial planning fee, whether they charge a percentage of assets under management of if they charge by hourly fee, project fee or retainer.  Compare payment options to see which is best for your business and the work you want the adviser to do.

Q.  Can I see a business plan?

Ask if you can see a business plan they have prepared for another client.  This should provide you with a good idea of the areas your adviser can help you with and will provide a great basis for an initial discussion.

Q.  How much contact do you have with clients and will I be working with just you or a team?

Get an idea of how the adviser works.   Is there regular face to face contact or is there a quarterly review?  Is most communication done over the phone or via email?  Will you only deal with the adviser or with a small team? Understanding the way the firm operates will enable you to decide if this is the right level of support for your business and ensure that expectations are met on both sides.

Q. Did they seem interested?

Finally, after your meeting with a potential adviser did they seem interested in your business? If they asked lots of questions about your business and really seemed interested in how they can help you that’s a good sign.  Make sure you choose someone with whom you feel at ease and who gives you confidence.  Finance is personal and it is important you are happy to talk through your business financials with your adviser

It’s always a good idea to shop around and speak to a few potential advisers to help you decide which is right for you.  Ask if you can speak to an existing client and see how financial advice has helped their business.  Remember, a good financial adviser is also a financial coach and should be available to answer questions, help review ideas that you present, build your knowledge, and increase your financial skills and confidence.

Find the right financial adviser today to support your business.