60 second guide to financial planningHow financial advice can get you the most from your money

27 November 2013

Financial advice

This week sees the launch of Financial Planning Week, an industry-run initiative to help people get their finances in order with the the help of a financial planner. 

Dealing with your finances can be complex and confusing, especially when it comes to investing your money and preparing for your retirement. For many people, taking professional financial advice can help put your finances on the right track. 

Here, we explain what financial planning is, and how to make the most of it. 

What is financial planning?

Financial planning is a term used by some financial advisers to get across what they do and differentiate it from other services. 

Unlike fund managers or stockbrokers, who are just concerned with picking the latest hot investment prospects for your portfolio, a financial planner aims to look at all of your circumstances, goals and aspirations, in order to help you plan for your future.

The Institute of Financial Planning (IFP) offers an additional, internationally recognised, qualification for financial advisers who want to achieve Certified Financial Planner status.

What can a financial planner help with?

A financial planner will help you prepare for important life events like retirement but they will also consider issues like debt, estate planning and your tax affairs.  

Many financial planners will also be Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs) who consider the whole of the market when making recommendations about everything from investments to pensions, insurance and mortgages. 

How much money do you need?

Some IFAs, including those with financial planner status, require you to have assets of more than £50,000 or £100,000, although plenty will consider smaller amounts.

It's important to talk to a number of advisers to compare their charges, qualifications and find the right fit for you.

How do you find a financial adviser?

If you like the sound of Certified Financial Planners, the IFP website includes a search function. Similarly, unbiased.co.uk contains a directory of IFAs, many of whom will have the financial planning qualification.

And VouchedFor.co.uk - which brands itself Trip Adviser for financial advisers - includes reviews from consumers who have used advisers, as does our own Which? Local.

Vouched For is offering free financial health checks with advisers to mark Financial Planning Week, although most IFAs will offer a free initial consultation before you commit as part of their normal process.

Some of IFP's Accredited Financial Planning Firms are also offering free surgeries of up to 90 minutes. Click on the link to find out about the firms offering this

How much will financial advice cost?

If you choose to go ahead and take advice, IFAs can charge you in a variety of ways. Some will offer you an hourly rate for the time it take them to complete the work involved, typically £100 to £200.

Others will charge a fee based on a percentage of your assets up front, typically 3%, or a set fee depending on the task. Fees can vary significantly, so it's important to shop around and negotiate.

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