At some point in our lives, we’re all likely to need the help of a financial expert, be it a wealth manager, financial planner or a financial adviser. The expert you choose will largely depend on your needs and the level of service you require – but one thing that overrides everything else is finding someone you trust, and who takes the time to get to know you.

People looking for financial guidance are often prompted by a particular need or life event. For instance, you might have received a financial windfall and want guidance on how best to invest it, or you may need help organising your pension plans after a change of job.

If you’re a new parent, you may want to put in place financial protection to safeguard you and your family’s future security.

And if you’ve already retired, you may want professional help to plan for your later life care, or advice to reduce the inheritance tax burden on your children when you die.

Make sure the adviser is qualified to undertake the work

What kind of expert should I choose?

Selecting the right adviser will take a little research. Before taking any advice though, make sure the adviser is qualified to undertake the work in question.

To start with, check they’re registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – the UK regulatory body covering financial advice. You can check this via the Financial Services Register.

They will also need to hold at least a Level 4 Diploma, which is equivalent to a degree-level (most commonly indicated by the letters DipPFS or DipFA after their name). Many will study to a higher level, while those possessing the ‘gold standard’ qualification will describe themselves as ‘Chartered’.

Some will have specialist qualifications in a particular field, so if you have a specific requirement, you will want to choose a financial expert with the relevant qualification or accreditation in that field.

For instance, if you need advice about financing later-life care, an expert with a Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) accreditation may be best placed to help.

Beyond the qualifications

Once you’ve checked out those areas, it’s important to understand that you’ll be trusting this person with your financial wellbeing.

You’ll need to discuss personal matters with them, so it’s vital you’re comfortable talking to them and that they answer your questions in a way you understand. A financial professional should take the time to get to know you, your financial goals and life aspirations, and help come up with a pathway that suits you.

An Amber River financial expert covers all aspects of financial planning, and depending on your requirement and specialist needs, you will be assigned a fully qualified professional to help. Most financial planners offer both wealth management services as well as product-focused financial advice, but traditionally, there are slight differences in their roles:

A financial planner

A financial planner will analyse your present and future goals and give you projected calculations to help develop a comprehensive long-term financial strategy. They will provide you with a detailed financial plan to keep you on track to achieve all your short and long-term goals. At Amber River, we use the term ‘Life Landscaping’ to reflect the lifelong nature of a sound financial plan.

The plan will include everything from setting a monthly budget, building up an emergency fund, planning for your future retirement, and putting protection in place should you lose your job or become unwell. A plan will also help identify tax efficiencies and ensure your estate planning and later-life care needs are taken care of.

A wealth manager

Financial planners working with ‘high-net worth’ individuals may refer to themselves as wealth managers – but essentially they’re offering the same service. People who have a lot of money are likely to have more diverse and complex investment needs, so the financial planner will place a greater emphasis on developing tailored investment strategies designed to preserve and grow wealth.

A wealth manager will still build an overall financial plan covering all other aspects of an individual’s life, including insurance protection, tax planning, retirement, business planning and estate planning.

A financial adviser

A financial adviser can fulfil the roles listed above, but may spend more time with clients focusing on one aspect of their life at a time, such as a mortgage, pension, an ISA, or personal protection insurance like critical illness cover, income replacement or life insurance.

There are two types of financial adviser – Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs) and Restricted Financial Advisers.

  • A Restricted adviser is only able to access a limited roster of financial products, depending on which company they represent.
  • An IFA can search the entire market for products offered by multiple financial providers.

Amber River’s financial planners are IFAs. This allows them to recommend the most suitable products once they have a full picture of the client’s specific needs, circumstances and aspirations.

People who took professional advice increased their assets by £48,000 after ten years

What’s the true value of financial advice?

Focusing our attention on financial wellbeing means we’re likely to be more careful with our money. Bringing in a qualified financial expert to support you in this is a logical step that can provide you with new insights, clarity and strategies that you may not be aware of.

For example, a financial planner can create a plan that matches your investments to your specific risk profile, which can be tricky to work out on your own. They will identify tax efficiencies to help you keep more of your money, and they can suggest financial protection strategies that will act as a safety net if the worst were to happen. Without their input, it’s possible you may lack the knowledge and the time to put in place a plan that gives you the best outcome.

The value of financial advice is backed up by research from the International Longevity Centre (ILC), released in 2017. In the first study of its kind, it compared people who had taken financial advice with those who didn’t. The findings revealed that those who took professional advice between 2001 and 2006 increased their assets by £48,000 after ten years, compared to those who didn’t.

Amber River financial planners

Amber River is a group of qualified financial experts based around the UK. They look after everyone from high-net-worth individuals to people with more straightforward financial needs, offering advice and expertise to help them plan for a life well-lived.

Get in touch

To speak to one of our team, arrange an appointment or find out more, call 0800 915 0000, or alternatively use our contact form here.