Business

Time to get an instant answer tailored to your personal situation

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FROM past experience, we know that last Wednesday, and the Budget, was the day the general public look to the internet to find out what Chancellor Rishi Sunak had done to their finances - pensions, savings, petrol prices, and of course the cost of a pint.

More of us are looking at our information online these days, but the next week or two are a great time for taking more direct information about your finances, in a situation where you can actually ask a question, and get an instant answer tailored perfectly to your personal situation.

I am talking, of course about asking a real human being, not some online ‘dot com'. I am talking about your local financial adviser.

First of all, let's look at why you should take financial advice. One reason is that the financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, has said many times that it is wise and prudent.

But if that's not enough to convince you, then let us remind you again of the hard facts. Recently we discussed new figures from the pensions company Royal London.

The statistic of the year to date is that those who took financial advice were, on average, £47,706 better off when they retired, compared to those who didn't, across their pension savings and other wealth.

Financial advice is a step by step process that builds into one of the most important goals you can wish for: peace of mind. The knowledge that you and your family are provided for, and financially secure.

Your adviser will sort out the initial challenge you come to them with, and they can then put a plan in place to deal with further challenges that are an inevitable part of life along the way.

But what kind of an adviser should you choose? Most experts believe that an independent adviser is the best choice.

Advisers who are not independent may be limited in the range of products they can offer you, but an independent adviser is free to access the whole of the financial market in order to match the best product to your individual situation.

That has, for many experts, been a concern about taking advice or buying products from that ‘dot com' online site I mentioned. The online site is much less flexible, because you will not have the opportunity to explain your situation, your goals, and your risk preferences, and there is no potential for building a relationship with someone who, like ‘a local GP for your finances', knows your personal future needs.

An independent financial advisor will have knowledge of all financial areas, including investments, savings, insurance, pensions, tax planning and family estate management. He or she should also be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, which means that they will act ethically and only in your best interests.

There is a growing realisation of the benefits of personal and expert advice, when you are making the biggest financial decisions of your life.

Currently, three people out of five have used financial advice, but that still leaves the other two, who have decided to go it alone – despite the fact that a growing range of products over the last 15 years, and the evolving nature of legislation, make keeping up with the latest developments a full-time job.

To look at just one area, the pensions sector was always complex, but it has become incredibly complex since new freedoms to take some of your savings out (pensions drawdown) were introduced in April 2015.

Many savers who have attempted this without advice have been landed with large and unexpected tax bills.

But the news is not all bad. As you've probably heard by now, the Chancellor left both the fuel, and the beer, alone.

:: Michael Kennedy and Shaun Doherty are independent financial advisers and pensions specialists, and can be contacted on 02871886005. Further information on Facebook at Kennedy Independent Financial Advice Ltd or at www.mkennedyfinancial.com

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