Do you always go for the first one you see? Or are you more the shop-around type? Taking time to explore doesnât just make it more likely that youâll find what youâre looking for. It means you could also discover so much more. Hereâs how to celebrate being a âsearcherâ.
Whether youâre in the market for a new outfit, a new house or a new partner, you probably wonât grab the first one that comes along. But hereâs an interesting thing. Youâll often see someone take a pair of jeans from the rack and march straight over to the checkout. And surveys (by ING Direct and Barratt Homes to name just two) have shown that people take on average less than half an hour to decide to buy a home â around seven minutes longer than theyâd take to buy a pair of jeans. Whatâs going on?
Of course, all you see here is the snap decision. What you donât see are the twenty other shops that the jeans-buyer has browsed, or the months that the home-buyer has spent viewing other properties. Or how about booking a holiday (because Iâm actually not talking about mortgages today) â you could spend six weeks browsing travel sites, but when you see that perfect deal, you probably pounce on it in about forty-five seconds.
Search and youâll find
The point is, searching makes you smarter. Every time you search for a thing, even if you donât find what you were looking for, you do find something. That something is a little bit of knowledge you didnât have before, a lesson maybe, a new way of looking at things, or a set of burned fingers. Itâs experience. And that experience feeds into the next search, and the next, until youâre the person who feels ready to buy their dream car after a ten-minute test drive.
But what if youâve never searched for this particular thing before? Thatâs the situation many people find themselves in when they seek financial advice. Youâve decided (or someone has dropped heavy hints at you) to consult a financial adviser â but thatâs as much as you know at this point. Will just âaâ financial adviser do the trick? If I find several advisers in my area, how do I choose between them? And if theyâre all independent and FCA-regulated, does it matter which I pick? Imagine trying to decide between tea and coffee if youâd never tasted either.
Not a clue where to startâ¦
Hereâs a tip: just throw yourself in. Itâs hard to make an informed search without some kind of prior experience, so really the best way is to learn as you go along. Fortunately, unbiased.co.uk makes it very easy to do this. To start adviser-hunting, simply enter your postcode in the box. Youâll see a list of likely contenders, ranked in order of distance from you. However, what youâre looking for is not the nearest necessarily, but the best one for you. Now the real search begins.
Youâll probably want to refine your longlist using the search filters. These narrow down the list to those advisers who offer or specialise in what youâre looking for. For instance, if you wanted an adviser whoâs happy working with first-time property buyers, youâd click Mortgages and then the First Timer Buyers subcategory. The possibilities are many: you can filter your list by advice areas, payment options, qualifications, special offers and more, to find exactly what youâre looking for.
Download your new best friend
But what if you donât yet know exactly what you are looking for? Part of a good adviserâs job is to help you work this out â so there is a bit of chicken-and-egg involved. This is where the adviser checklist is most useful. Once you have a shortlist of local advisers who fit your broad requirements, the checklist enables you to compare them like an expert, even if youâve never taken financial advice before. It guides you through all the questions you need to ask and what you ought to expect, so you can compare advisers objectively.
Donât miss the X factor
There is one more crucial factor, though, and itâs not something youâll find on any checklist or search engine. You might not be a hotshot in financial matters, you might think you donât have a clue, but no-one knows better than you what you want out of life. You are also the best judge of the kind of person you like to work with. The unbiased.co.uk database ensures a high level of quality and dependability, but beyond that is a huge range of different personalities and experience. Two advisers with identical qualifications may still be very different in person, and itâs vital that you and your adviser see eye to eye. The best value from advice comes about not through a single meeting or a few, but through a long-term working relationship â sometimes up to ten years or more. Can you see this happening with your adviser? If not, you might want to keep searching.
As with shopping for clothes or houses, you may not get a clear picture of your ideal adviser until youâve met with quite a few. But gradually youâll home in on the qualities that matter to you, and develop an instinct for who is right for your particular needs. We canât promise you a perfect match at first sight, but we can promise you the best place to start. Begin your search today!