5 Easy Steps to choose a financial advisor

by | Jan 17, 2020

5 easy steps to choose a financial advisor

Whatever your income, everyone should get impartial & practical Financial Advice throughout their lives. Financial Advisors offer qualified expert advice.

Remember, a good advisor has seen hundreds or thousands of cases. They have the experience to know what works and what doesn’t.

We’ve listed out 5 Easy Steps To Choose A Financial Advisor to help you pick a Financial Advisor that suits you and your circumstances.

Step 1: Is this financial advisor Qualified?

When choosing a Financial Advisor make sure they are Qualified Financial Advisors. This is normally shortened to QFA.

The Qualified Financial Advisor qualification meets the Central Bank’s Minimum Competency Code (MCC) requirements for selling and advising on loans, life assurance, investment, pensions & financial advice.

Check and see if the Financial Advisor is registered with the Central Bank of Ireland.

Financial advice is not a regulated product that requires the advisor to be registered with the Central Bank, but if they are, it is a positive sign.

Getting a Central Bank licence is a time-consuming and costly process. If the Financial Advisor has gone to the effort they are serious about their business.

Make sure you are clear about the qualifications and experience your Financial Advisor has. Ask them if you’re not sure.

Step 2: financial advisors FEES & Charges

Financial Advisors charge fees in a couple of ways. One method is a fixed fee structure. This is when you pay a fixed or agreed amount for a specific service. Some Financial Advisors will have a cost per service or an hourly rate.

Another way you pay for financial advice is through the commission structure. This is when Financial Advisors receive their payment from the insurer, lender, or product provider, after you have set up your chosen pension, insurance or mortgage. In this case, you don’t pay upfront for the advice and research that is done to help you find your solution.

Every Financial Advisor has to provide you with Terms of Business that detail their charges and any commissions they receive, and other details of their services and licences. This should be given to you before you receive any advice, and is usually available on their website. Ours is at the bottom of our webpages.

A good Financial Advisor will be happy to discuss a payment structure that suits you, whether it’s fee-based, or commission-based.

You always have the option to deal with your financial advisor on a fee-only basis, where no commission will be charged. This can increase the cost of your upfront fee, while potentially reducing the cost of your premium payments over time.  

Make sure you’re clear on what you are or are not paying for. Get the Terms of Business from your Financial Advisor, and ask questions if you need to.

Step 3: Financial Advisor who listens to you

A good Financial Advisor should always put your concerns first. They should spend time asking you questions about your income & expenditure and what your goals and concerns are.

While they may offer advice regarding other issues you should always feel that your primary questions have been answered in plain English. Any jargon or acronyms should be fully explained.

Financial Advisors should always be happy to answer as many questions as you have. You might not always like the answers, but they should be based on the information provided and current market information.

Prior to giving advice Greenway will always get you to fill in forms that gives us the full extent of your financial situation, or as much as we need to address your concerns. This information is collected to ensure our advice is correct and appropriate for your situation. 

This information is held in the strictest confidence and never shared with any other parties without your explicit permission, as per GDPR.

We will also make the information available for you to review, to make sure our collection has been correct. See our privacy notice for information about how we handle your data.

Step 4: Clear Deliverables

When you contact a Financial Advisor and ask for help with specific issues, the advisor should always clearly state in writing what they are going to do for you.

If you’ve asked for specific advice about regulated products like pensions, protection, or mortgages, after your Fact Find is completed, you should receive a document called a Statement of Suitability. This will detail your situation, their advice to you, and exactly why this recommendation fits your circumstances. It should fully explain the product, so you can make an informed choice.

If you are getting a Financial Planning Service you should receive a document which outlines your priorities and goals as you stated them, along with the Financial Advisors’ recommendations on how to achieve them.

Step 5: Communication

Financial Advice takes a different amount of time for different clients. Some people have simple queries that take a couple of hours to answer. Others require plans that take weeks to complete.

Your Financial Advisor should always communicate what stage in the process you are at and if they need further information.

Don’t forget to check if they’ve asked you for more information. Your advisor will need accurate information from you to be able to give you the best advice they can.

We always communicate with clients multiple times during the week. Especially if we are still waiting on information from the client.

We don’t do this to annoy clients, they are gentle reminders to make sure the client’s Financial Plan is complete and every question or goal has been correctly assessed.

Greenway often deals with clients who want individual products like life insurance or pensions, and they either call us, or use the quote calculators on our site to make contact.

We are usually paid by means of commission for these clients. We’ll do a full Fact-Find, and all the necessary research to make sure our clients can make the best choice for themselves and their families. Our clients don’t have to pay an upfront fee, and we can answer any questions they need about commission.

We also offer Financial Planning Services, Budgeting Support and SME Business Advice. These services are charged separately, by means of an upfront fee.

This is because the work we’ll do for our clients will be very specialised, and time-intensive. Not only will we answer our clients’ questions, we’ll also use our expertise answer questions they might not know they needed to ask. 

You can find out more about our fees and charges in our terms of business here

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Debbie Cheevers

Debbie Cheevers

Qualified Financial Advisor (QFA) & Technician Member of the Irish Taxation Institute

Debbie was born in Dublin and graduated from NCAD with a degree in Visual Communication. She brings a strong customer service background to Greenway.

Debbie qualified as APA in 2017 and a fully qualified financial advisor (QFA) in 2018. She believes that product knowledge is key to helping customers make the right choices.

In 2022 Debbie gained a tax qualification as a Technician Member of the Irish Taxation Institute.

Greenway Financial Advisors Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Registered No. C168372