Before using a new financial adviser check out their experience, services, qualifications, professional standards and how they are regulated.
There are various reasons why people take financial advice: to choose suitable investments; improve income and returns; lower tax liabilities; maximise pension funds; establish an effective estate plan etc. In essence, most of us are looking for long-term financial security and peace of mind.
What many do not realise, however, is that their choice of adviser is possibly the most important financial decision they need to make, especially if you are trusting their recommendations for wealth and assets you have built up over your working life.
Whether you are looking for an adviser to provide long-term wealth management, buying a one-off investment or transferring pension funds, it is important to take the time to check their credentials.
Where possible, we would recommend using a wealth management firm which has a solid history advising people in a similar situation to you. So, for example, a firm highly experienced at advising UK nationals living in Spain, ideally with advisers based here for some time. They will have a deep understanding of expatriates’ financial planning needs and can offer tried and tested solutions.
We are not the only advisers available in Spain, but at Blevins Franks we have been advising UK nationals in Europe for over 40 years, with advisers living in Spain since 1988. A number of our Spain advisers have been with us for between 15 and 30 years.
Such longevity provides peace of mind, not only that the firm is very experienced, but also that it will be around for the long-term, to advise you and your family for however long you need them.
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Regulation and professional qualifications
Experience needs to be combined with qualifications and high professional standards. Finance, investing, pensions, estate planning and taxation are very technical subjects which require specialist understanding. Ensure your advisory firm has professionals with officially recognised qualifications, and who keep fully up-to-date with financial and regulatory changes.
For security and peace of mind, choose an advisory firm which abides by national and international regulations and is regulated by a reputable body. When it comes to investing, you need to check that both your adviser, and the investment managers they are recommending, are regulated.
Blevins Franks Financial Management Limited is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK, which we feel gives our clients peace of mind as many are used to a UK regulator. Our Spanish office, which is a branch of Blevins Franks Financial Management Limited, carries out insurance and pension funds mediation activities which are supervised by the Direccion General de Seguros y Fondos de Pensiones (DGSFP) and additionally, investment activities which are supervised by the Comision Nacional del Mercado de Valores (CNMV).
The FCA also sets professional standards for financial advisers ranging from Statements of Professional Standing to Continuous Professional Development requirements. All of our advisers adhere to these strict standards and individual names of advisers based in Spain can be verified on the FCA register https://register.fca.org.uk/.
Ask your adviser where, how and for what services they are personally regulated and then independently confirm this; do not just take their word for it. For example, if a firm or an adviser says it is regulated by the FCA, you can look this up on the register which lists all the individuals for the firm.
Regulation is important to protect yourself should things go wrong, but it is also a necessity in some cases. For example, under the UK pension rules, if you want to transfer more than £30,000 out of a defined benefit (final salary) scheme, you must first take advice from a UK FCA regulated firm. This applies even if you are resident outside the UK.
Finally, for the best results, not to mention to make life easier for yourself, use a firm which can provide holistic advice covering most of your financial requirements. It should also ensure that your appetite for risk is fully assessed and any recommendations are carefully tailored appropriately to match your risk appetite, rather than simply stock-picking investments.
At Blevins Franks, we specialise in tax planning, investments, pensions and estate planning. Therefore, for example, when we give investment advice we also take the tax and estate planning implications into account and recommend solutions to cover all three aspects. Likewise, when we advise on options for your pension funds, we can also advise on the tax implications and investment opportunities for the underlying funds.
Contact your local Blevins Franks adviser for personalised tax and wealth management advice