What to Look For When Choosing a Pension Transfers Advisor
Your pension is your ticket to having the money you need to pay the bills during retirement. If you have invested successfully, you should end up with more than you need to meet your basic financial obligations, allowing you to do other things you were unable to do while working. So what if your pension is not performing as well as you need it to? It may be time to think about transferring. Any decision to transfer should not be made without first consulting with a pension transfers advisor.
A pension transfers advisor is a financial advisor with expertise in pensions and pension transfers. Not every financial advisor knows enough about pensions to properly advise you about transferring. We cannot stress enough how important it is to work with somebody who has the necessary expertise. The last thing you want is to spend decades saving for retirement only to discover, when the day comes, that you do not have enough money to make ends meet.
At Pensions Transfers, we operate a panel of expert pension transfers advisors and are fully independent and compliant with FSA regulations - providing you with essential pension's advice.
Certified Financial Advisors and the FCA
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates financial advisors of all kinds in the UK. The FCA did not exist prior to April 2013; the government established it in order to help fix many of the problems uncovered by the global financial crisis. It has made a big difference since opening for business.
One of the first things the FCA did was set down the regulations that dictate how financial advisors can offer their services. Today, certification is necessary to practice as a financial advisor. There are two kinds of advisors as determined by professional representation:
- Independent – The independent financial advisor is an individual or firm that provides qualified financial advice without any obligations to specific products or services. They are free to recommend a full range of options to clients regardless of who sells the various products. Independent advisors work on a fee-based model. They are required by law to provide unbiased and unrestricted advice.
- Restricted – The restricted financial advisor is an individual or firm whose advice is limited to certain providers, specific products, or a combination of both. Such advisors must disclose any and all restrictions to clients before offering any advice. In most cases, restricted advisors either work on behalf of a single provider or specialise in one market.
It goes without saying that the first thing you should look for in your pension transfers advisor is independence versus restriction. An independent advisor will be able to offer you more broad-based advice dictated by your circumstances combined with the products most likely to help you meet your retirement goals.
Authorised by the FCA
Consumers wishing to transfer a pension should by all means consider working with an advisor who is officially authorised by the FCA. You can check on an individual or firm by visiting the FCA website. It maintains an up-to-date online database listing every authorised firm and individual advisor in the UK.
Be aware that you can get 'advice' from unauthorised sources. This kind of advice is referred to by the FCA as 'guidance' rather than certified financial advice. Such guidance is usually free or offered at very low cost; it does not give you access to any other pension funds that might be willing to accept your transfer. Those offering guidance are not legally allowed to recommend specific products or product providers either.
Pension Advice and Experience
Given the sensitive nature of your pension, the next thing to look for is the advisor's experience in pension investing and advice. It is perfectly acceptable to ask a potential advisor for information that will demonstrate his or her experience. Anyone not willing to furnish this information is one you probably would not have a good relationship with anyway. Walk away and look elsewhere.
Commitment to Customer Relationships
The Pensions Advisory Service recommends, among other things, taking a close look at how potential advisors value customer relationships. As an example, choosing a firm employing multiple advisors may result in you working with a financial team rather than just one individual. You may find this sort of approach more conducive to a profitable working relationship. Conversely, you may prefer to work one-on-one with a single advisor. A firm that values customer relationships will accommodate client preferences.
Another way to learn about how much a firm values customer relationships is to pay close attention to how they interact with you upon your first introduction. Did someone answer the phone, or did you have to leave a message? Was the representative helpful and friendly during your conversation? Did your initial consultation leave you feeling at ease or make you feel as though the advisor is not really interested in what you think?
A few subtle hints here and there may give you a good idea of whether or not a financial advisor really values you as a client. You should look for one you believe will appreciate your working relationship as much as you do.
Products Offered by Advisors
In cases where a pension investor chooses to work with a restricted advisor, it is important to take a good look at the kinds of products that advisor offers. For example, let us say you have heard great things about Pension Scheme A. You have already done plenty of research, and you are convinced this is the best option to receive your transfer. Now you simply want a second opinion from a pension transfers advisor who knows all of the details of the scheme. A restricted advisor representing Pension Scheme A is the ideal candidate to offer you advice. As a product representative, he probably has information independent advisers would not have.
This same principle holds true even if you do not know specifically what you are looking for. Knowing the products and providers that a restricted advisor represents offers a starting point to determine which direction to go in. It might even be the impetus for you choosing to work with an independent advisor rather than a restricted individual or firm.
How Service Is Provided
Lastly, be aware that pension transfer advisors may offer their services in different ways. It would not be wise to choose an advisor who is only willing to meet with you during regular business hours if you happen to work those same hours at a company that is on the other side of town. You would be better served by an advisor willing to meet you at your office, or schedule an appointment at your home during the evening.
On the other hand, you might not want to work with a pension transfers advisor who is so flexible and adaptable that it is hard to pin him or her down with a concrete commitment. Working with such a person could drive you mad trying to coordinate your schedules.
Deciding to transfer your pension is no small commitment. A good decision may mean your pension does very well from now until you retire. A bad decision may reduce your earning power or even subject you to significant losses. So before you make any decision, be sure to seek out the advice of a qualified pension transfers advisor. If you follow the criteria we have laid out here, you should be able to find an advisor more than capable of giving you sound advice.
Our panel of FCA Approved Pension Experts Will Help You:
- Free Initial Assessment of Your Current Pension Funds
- Find Out Your Projected Retirement Income
- Understand The Most Appropriate Alternative Investments
- Find Out How The Latest Pension Changes Affect You
- Release Cash From Your Pension
- Discover The Benefits of Changing Pension Providers