Who has consulted an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA)?

Yes, basically just that. Start with a visit to the business premises and make a judgement about how that feels [sweatshop!] and have a couple of meetings with whoever is going to provide the advice. There should never be any pressure to hurry decisions [been there, done that, got burnt, got compensated]. Where to invest I had to leave to the FA, smoke and mirrors to me, but the logic made sense. Gone a little southward just at present, but it’s a long game. R-

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Cheers @Rogerb. I was just thinking, even though I’m at the beginning of my financial journey and I already feel there is a stigma with using IFAs. In other words, I’m a little scared to go to one even though I’m more than certain they know more about finance than I do.

Did you feel this way before going to one?

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Absolutely - mainly because of my earlier poor decisions. It is well worth spending time scoping out the marketplace, you are considering making life changing [hopefully positive] choices. R-

Definitely feels like a subject that shouldn’t be rushed. Where would you advise a newbie like me to start looking? Is it something your bank provides?

Just to be clear, I am not connected to Dozens - or any other financial institution. R-

I jsut feel that now with so many online providers such as PensionBee, Nutmeg, Bricklane, you can be in control of that.
To me, the IFA would be helpful in a sense on how to diversify wisely.

I had a brief chat with an IFA (I beleive) through my company, and he was very worried about all those online platforms etc, and told me to back away from that which I didn;t like and thought to be old-school.
Hence me worried now to have a proper IFA who is looking towards the future, not the past…

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I didn’t look at the online providers mainly because you need to have some clue about which investments to make. There is also that worry about not following the markets, financial news, blogs, forums, Auntie Mabel’s tea leaf readings and all the other avenues of data closely enough to enable you to sell and buy at the optimum moment. That is where the advisor comes in and, for the money, for me it has proved the best way. R-

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I used https://adviserbook.co.uk. Be sure to tick “confirmed independent”. And only go for someone who charges fixed fees for their time, not % of your portfolio.

I used one having found someone who was truly independent, upfront and honest in our first meeting, and only charged fixed fees.

The % fees that most financial advisers charge are likely to significantly or even completely wipe out any investment gains. My IFA and I both recognised this as inherently reprehensible.

My IFA wasn’t in the business of selling me anything, just giving good advice. I already knew pretty much what I wanted to do, and all he really ended up doing was confirming most of my plan and suggesting some specifics and making sure I thought about certain scenarios.

I sought this “double-check” advice because I was going to invest a very large sum of money. Most people are not in that position, and using an IFA for less than a few hundred thousands pounds just wouldn’t be worth the time or money, even if they were charging a reasonable fee.

Those financial advisors that would take on a client investing small quantities are simply unscrupulous, because they would know full-well that their fees would put their client in the negative, yet they take the money anyway.

Don’t see how. A % by definition is less than “everything in the fund” providing you don’t agree to a figure equal to or greater than 100. R-

Wipe out the gains, not the principle. If the investments only gain 1% in the year (quite possible, especially for a conservative investment, or during a bad year), and your IFA charges 1%, you portfolio increases in value by 0% that year.

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Right, gotcha! My chap gets 1% of whatever is there when payment is due. So the greater the fund the better his payment. R-

Right, so the idea there is they supposedly have an incentive to find well-performing funds to increase the amount they’ll earn, which is also in your interest. Win-win, right?

That’s what will happen with someone trust-worthy, honest and actually capable. Hopefully your chap is one such person.

But equally you could have someone that just sits back and does nothing of value, and just rakes in the money. For example:

  • Client invests £1mil
  • Good IFA John picks good investments that increase the value by 4% after a year, to £1,040,000. He then charges his 1% fee, making £10,400.
  • Or bad IFA Sam picks an investment he didn’t bother researching. It only increases value by 1% after a year, to £1,010,000. He then charges his 1% fee, making £10,100. (Notice client now has less than he started with, but Sam just doesn’t need to care.)

John’s reward for his excellent performance and hundreds of hours of hard work is an extra £300 compared to Sam, who basically did nothing and laughed his was to the bank.

Basically, for an IFA on a % fee, they don’t actually have much incentive to do well. If they really want to make extra money, it’s far more lucrative to become unscrupulous and take an additional % cut/fee/kickback for investing in certain products. That way they can get 1% from the client, and 1% from the fund, and make an extra £10,000 instead of a meagre £300.

Yes, can see that and hopefully I do have a good chap. Can you do the same scenario with a fixed fee IFA? R-

Sure, with a fixed fee it looks like:

  • Good IFA Carl picks good investments that increase the value by 4% after a year, to £1,040,000. He then charges his £3,000 flat fee.

Here’s what the client ends up with after 1 year:

  • Good IFA John who charges 1%: £1,029,600
  • Bad IFA Sam who charges 1%: £999,900
  • Good IFA Carl who charges a fixed rate: £1,037,000

Obviously, clients are better off with Carl. It’s a lot easier to trust Carl because we know he isn’t driven by greed. He’s just charging enough to make his living, in line with the value of his advice. (You can be especially sure of this if you pick funds based on his advice and buy them yourself - then you know with certainty there’s no kickback situation.)

Carl’s incentive to do well is that if he gives you bad advice that doesn’t meet your financial goals, you simply won’t go back to him for advice next year. You’re free to leave him, because as a good IFA he hasn’t done anything to “trap” you in to his service.

You can bet that Sam, on the other hand, will do everything in his power to make it as difficult as possible to leave him, and to convince you there’s nothing wrong and you’re doing well. He just wants his 1%. Sam’s main skill will be making clients happy that their investments gained 1% this year, while hiding the fact the client is actually poorer. Sam’s clients consider “feelings”, and don’t really look at the reality of the numbers.

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I consulted one as I’m self employed and manage my own pension.

I simply wanted a pension review, and advice on which funds to invest in. I got this and the selected funds have outperformed my previous funds, so the advice had more than paid for itself.

However the actual process was much as I’d feared - much more interested in selling me into a scheme that would get them commission, couldn’t answer specific questions about products they weren’t pushing (p2p lending for example).

Also used two for mortgages (one was not good, the other excellent and also used her for life insurance).

So I guess my experiences bear out other people’s concerns - how do you find a good one? If you do they’re probably expensive, upfront costs are rarely clear etc etc…

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I don’t feel I need general ongoing investment advice. I’m perfectly happy to do that myself. Where I feel an IFA could potentially help me is for ad-hoc large financial events - mortgage, inheritance, whether to transfer pensions when moving jobs, etc.

I don’t know if I can get an IFA for ad-hoc needs or if I need to employ one on an ongoing basis via some kind of retainer fee in order to access ad-hoc advice. This has been an obstacle for me.

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When you’re unsure of where to go, do you often resort to the internet or chat to friends? I used to call my parents but I now realise that their financial journey was so different to mine that it actually isn’t the best resource for me.

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I still do, but on the other hand I am the parent of two teenagers and it worries me that I am about to become their ‘phone a friend’ on these matters and yet I am the one who is still unsure.

I see we’ve had a few late additions to the ‘Yes’ camp in the in the poll. For the longest time we were at pretty much the national average of 5-10% but we’ve jumped up to 26% which is very impressive.

I’m guessing that the kinds of people who join Dozens today, or at least those who join discussions like these, are those who are a bit more likely than most to have thought about their future and considered getting advice.

The experience of most of those who have commented, like @Rogerb @sendu and @dan_g generally seems positive on balance, but with some provisos re costs. Is that fair?

I have to say that my experience is completely positive, but I’ve consciously restricted what I expected from him. His advice has paid off many times over with a mortgage change we made some years ago (before the 2008 crash) and with his help to consolidate my pension, so I can’t argue.

To be fair, our savings weren’t of the order where his advice was needed (or could be afforded) so we did what @o99 suggested I guess, and stuck to specific decisions.

However, I do wonder if there might have been some further advice, or maybe encouragement, that could have been given so that those savings might have been better taken care of over the years? I know, I could have done more research … but we don’t get around to it, right?

Another point of interest is that most of us in this discussion, with the honourable exception of @JuB, have been men (to the best of my knowledge). I wonder if there are any women willing to share their experience, or concerns, with IFAs?

In my case it was actually my sister who referred me to her IFA that she thought highly of, but I understand that there is a substantial difference in this area (in one report I read, only 25% of those who do seek advice are women)

Over the years, I have used four or five different IFA’s but with hindsight I have gained little from the encounters. The “after sales” care has been non-existent! These days, I wouldn’t accept this behaviour from any other provider so why do IFA’s continue to treat customers so badly? The advice is not cheap and there are no guarantees their advice will result in any financial gain even over the long term. How can people assess or compare potential IFA’s when no meaningful performance data exists?

I can appreciate that people who are uncomfortable or not confident managing their own medium- or long-term financial plans might benefit from a whole-of-market IFA. But IFA’s were conceived in a pre-internet age when large financial corporations controlled the flow of information and financial products were made difficult to understand, access and manage. There was a time when you had to buy a broadsheet newspaper if you wanted to know the price of shares or funds! IMHO, the internet has made IFA’s virtually redundant for ordinary folk. When you consider IFA fees alone, it’s clear they are now targeting themselves at the high-net-worth client.

The internet has changed everything! Everyone can now access good quality information that will allow them to make their own decisions (yes, assuming you also know how to avoid the click-bait, marketing hype, misinformation, etc). You can even learn the basics of personal finance free at the Open University - https://www.open.edu/openlearn/money-business/mses-academy-money/content-section-overview. All the resources are in place to allow people to make more decisions for themselves on savings, insurance, life assurance, pensions, investments, etc and access the products they need. What’s more, Open Banking/PSD2, challenger banks, etc has accelerated the change allowing new entrants to the market like Dozens to develop platforms, tools, AI, etc that put customers in full control of their own money.

An IFA may give you peace of mind but I don’t think they represent good value for money for most people prepared to do a little homework.

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