Over the last five years, consumers have witnessed both the highs and lows of the economy - the latter of which culminated in global economic meltdown. However, figures from unbiased.co.uk, the professional advice website, reveal during this financial rollercoaster nearly 2.5 million* consumers sought details of an independent financial adviser (IFA) by using unbiased.co.uk’s ‘find an IFA’ search tool.
Independent financial advice has never been more important and more valuable for consumers and it is regarded as the ‘gold standard’ of advice because it offers access to, and guidance on, a huge pool of products from across the whole market. However – financial advice comes in many guises – and consumers may think they are getting this gold standard when in fact they are not. So how many consumers really understand the different types of financial advice on offer?
Unbiased.co.uk’s guide to seeking advice and the different types available
There are currently three main ways of seeking financial advice; either through an independent financial adviser, a multi tied agent or a tied agent. IFAs offer unbiased financial advice to their clients and recommend the most suitable products, if any, after researching the whole market. The key differentiator is that they act on the consumers’ behalf and will offer the option of paying by a fee, as well as the option of paying by commission. Tied agents can only advise on the products of one provider. Multi-tied agents are financial advisers allowed to recommend the products of a limited selection of providers, rather than just one.
The benefits of taking independent financial advice
The big advantage of independent financial advice is that it gives consumers access to all the products on the market through a qualified practitioner. An IFA’s job is to research and recommend the most appropriate financial solutions after asking their clients a whole range of detailed questions about their circumstances, their financial goals and their attitudes to risk.
When to seek independent financial advice
Starting work, buying a house, getting married, starting a family, saving for your children, paying your tax, planning for retirement and estate planning These are just some of the main issues that occur in life that can put additional pressures on finances. It makes sense to take control of each event and consider your financial plans to match your changing lifestyle and to plan to meet your financial liabilities.
An IFA can help clarify your financial priorities and your short, medium and long-term financial goals. He or she asks detailed questions about your financial circumstances, your existing investments, debts, state of health, your future goals, your risk tolerance and what you want from life. Then he or she will advise you on how to best invest capital and manage your income and debts. The IFA will work with you to make a plan to help your money grow for the future whilst ensuring you and your family are financially protected both in sickness and in health,
How to find independent financial advice
To find an IFA, visit unbiased.co.uk and carry out a free and confidential search on our ‘find an IFA’ tool, and find details of independent financial advisers close to where you live or work from over 8,000 IFA locations UK-wide.
Karen Barrett, Chief Executive at unbiased.co.uk, comments: “With consumers getting savvier when it comes to their personal finances; notably credit cards, current account and savings – it is crucial not to lose sight of the true value of seeking advice when it comes to more complex issues such as long-term saving, retirement planning, mortgages and investments. Even if you usually feel comfortable taking a DIY approach to your day-to-day finances, there are huge benefits to be had from independent financial advice when it comes to sorting out these inevitable, and more intricate, financial issues.
“Financial advice is an area that can be daunting for consumers, many people who may have previously relied on their bank or building society for product advice are now realising that this didn’t necessarily give them exposure to the best product for their individual circumstances. Seeking independent financial advice on your finances is an invaluable step in making sure you are getting advice from across the whole of market, with no ties to certain product providers. Finding an independent financial adviser has never been easier – visit unbiased.co.uk to carry out a free and confidential search to find an IFA.”
*Unbiased.co.uk internal data: between 1st July 2005 - 30th June 2010, 2,423, 078 consumers searched for an IFA via unbiased.co.uk’s ‘find an IFA’ search tool
* Opinium Research carried out an online poll of 2,065 British adults from 16th – 19th February 2010. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.
Anna Schirmer/Anna Moulds/Charli Scouller, Lansons Communications: 020 7294 3682
For expert commentary or case studies from over 150 media-friendly IFAs, journalists should visit www.unbiased.co.uk/bluebook.
About unbiased.co.uk, the professional advice website
The unbiased.co.uk portal is a free and confidential UK-wide search matching consumers with local professional advisers: ‘find an IFA’, ‘find a mortgage adviser’, and ‘find a solicitor’, and is currently inviting registrations for its ‘find an accountant’ service. These searches enable consumers to find professional advisers by postcode, area of specialism, qualification and payment method. In 2009, unbiased.co.uk fulfilled half a million searches for local, professional advice.
IFA Promotion, the organisation behind unbiased.co.uk, is now in its 21st year, and was set up to promote the benefits of independent financial advice to consumers. IFAP is sponsored by the following companies:
Registered Office: unbiased.co.uk is the consumer brand of IFA Promotion Ltd, 90 St. Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5UB. Registered in Scotland: No. 114606
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