A financial advisor is someone who can give financial advice to their clients. Seems straightforward.  However, considering there are many different areas of finance, a financial advisor is not necessarily a one size fits all role. Here, we look at the core principles in personal finance and how a specialist can help in these different areas. 

Insurance adviser

There are many tools on the internet that can help individuals assess and secure their own insurances quickly, easily and even at seemingly the best rates. So why use an insurance broker or advisor? Well, insurance advisors often have access to a wider breadth of providers than some search engines. But really, the reason to turn to an advisor in this area is because insurance matters can be quite complex, particularly when it comes to life insurance, life assurance, income protection insurance and critical illness insurance; there can often be cases of overlap with these different policies, some offer better advantages than others, and it can be really difficult to understand and calculate the protection level needed. 

An insurance broker, who specialises in insurance matters and has a greater understanding of the processes and how your needs align to the different policies, they can ensure that you’re not wasting money on duplicated cover, that you have sufficient cover for you and your family should the need ever arise, and that the policy is comprehensively completed to ensure a successful payout should you or your family need to claim.  

Your policies should be reviewed routinely, or in the event of any circumstantial change, e.g. moving house or taking out a significant debt, to ensure it continues to align with your needs. 

Mortgage adviser

First and foremost, the role of a mortgage advisor is to make the process of taking out or revising your mortgage deal as seamless and as stress free as possible. However, there are many benefits to utilising the services of a mortgage broker/advisor. By accessing a mortgage advisor you can expect to secure a better deal with some institutions because of their knowledge and access to the market. Additionally, in understanding your personal circumstances, you can increase your chances of securing the mortgage and desired loan amount. Also, as mortgage terms and offers vary from lender to lender, a mortgage advisor can you help you to fully understand the implications of any and all loan offers, including any early repayment charges, implications of interest repayments and any additional loan fees and how these are paid; as mortgages are high-value loans, this knowledge could save you thousands in the long run. 

Pensions

Retirement planning is complicated to understand. It’s not as simple as paying x amount into a retirement pot and having that much to live on when you do retire; you need to understand how much you’ll realistically need per year/month to live on and the kind of lifestyle that will give you. With this in mind, you need to create a financial plan to meet your desired target, which also involves looking at how to invest your pension fund and the risk associated with this investment, as well as understanding the options on how your pension fund will be distributed over the years during your retirement until you pass away. Of course there is also the matter of what will happen to any remaining funds when you do leave this earth.  

Your pension and goals need to be reviewed routinely, at least annually, and adjustments made to keep you on target. 

Enlisting the help of a financial advisor, that specialises in pensions, can take all the guesswork and stress out of calculating and managing a pension fund which often entails juggling large sums of money. 

To help you gauge the potential size of your pension pot, some advisors recommend having at least 10 times your salary in a pension pot upon your retirement. However, using the Which? guide on retirement income targets, to have a comfortable lifestyle upon retirement, which encompasses the essential income target (food, housing, transport, utility bills etc.) as well as regular short haul holidays, gifts for family and friends, and recreation and leisure, an individual needs £20,000 per year income on retirement and a couple needs £28,000; the total pension pot of this value would equate to £200,000 or £280,000 as a minimum – though your investments could go up or down. 

Investments

If you’re managing low debt, have a good savings buffer and well on your way to maintaining a good pension, you may be considering ways in which you can invest your money; whether to meet a particular goal, or make your money work a little harder for you. 

If you lack the financial acumen or time, turning to an investment advisor could be a worthwhile opportunity. They can help to manage any funds, for a fee, to help you invest your finances in funds that align with your personal values, at a level of risk you’re comfortable with, and inform and guide you on when and how to make any changes to your investment portfolio. As experts in the field, they’ll be constantly evaluating the market for any fluctuations that could impact your investments and act accordingly and promptly. 

In seeking the services of a regulated financial advisor for any of your personal financial needs, should things not run smoothly, or you have any issues or concerns, you have the Financial Ombudsman you can turn to for advice and help in highlighting any wrongdoing and making a formal complaint if needed. 

If you feel you could benefit from the help of a financial adviser, be sure to check out our article ‘choosing a financial adviser’ to find the right person that can help with your financial needs. 

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