Taking some time to figure out what your financial goals are is the first step. The next step is finding someone who is qualified to help you navigate all the traps in order to achieve those goals. Finding good financial advise is the first step to making all your goals and dreams a reality.
Unless you have the time, or inclination, to learn everything you can about investing you will need to rely on the help of a professional. As with any profession, some practitioners are better than others. When dealing with your financial future you have to be extremely careful who you get advice from.
When searching out someone to help you, remember to avoid someone who is just a ‘salesperson’. Most financial professionals make a commission, which isn’t necessarily bad, but you want to get unbiased, complete information not just a sales pitch. You should get enough information so that you can reasonably make your own decisions.
Sometimes the person will put in a lot of ‘work’ and spend a lot of time with you, all with the express purpose of ‘forcing’ you to agree to their recommendation and buy whatever product or service they are recommending. That is a huge mistake. These people are professionals, helping their clients is their job. It doesn’t mean that you have to purchase anything. If it doesn’t seem right to you, you don’t have to justify your reasons, just don’t buy. It’s your money, and your decision.
In 1986 a law was passed called the Financial Services Act, that requires all financial advisers to notify their clients if they are a ‘tied’ agent or an independent agent.
A tied agent is an agent that can only recommend products for the company they work for. Obviously with this type of agent their advice isn’t likely to be very unbiased. Tied agents are closely regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Part of this regulation requires them to give you honest advice about which products and services can best help you meet your needs.
It’s important that you keep a very important distinction in mind: they aren’t obligated to tell you what product or service is best for you in general, just which product or service their company has available that will be best for you.
Depending on your needs and goals they may not have a product or service that is really in your best interest, and they are not obligated to tell you that. Of course they should, but they may not.
Tied agents almost always work on commission and this may not be a bad way for you to go since they can often get very attractive deals for you. Just remember that their advice isn’t exactly what you’d consider ‘objective’.
Independent agents can sell you products and services from any company. Even though independent agents aren’t tied to one particular company doesn’t necessarily make them the best choice. They are usually associated with several companies and could, potentially, push you towards a product or service where they will get a higher commission.
At the end of the day when it comes to investing you have to remember that it’s your money and your decision. Take some time, don’t ever be afraid to ask questions and if the person you are considering hiring for financial advise seems preoccupied, or uninterested in what you have to say…keep looking.