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The questions to ask when you’re looking to get professional help to reach your financial goals
It is universally recognised that formulating, executing and managing a robust, tailor-made plan with an independent financial adviser (IFA) is the best way for people to reach their long-term financial ambitions.
However, choosing the right professional to assist you in achieving your financial goals could be trickier than anticipated. After all, selecting the right adviser is crucial, as your finances are far too important to get wrong or make costly mistakes.
As well as working to help their clients generate, maximise and secure their wealth, an independent financial adviser should also be a dependable financial mentor over the long-term.
As such, finding a professional possessing all these characteristics can be pretty complicated, particularly as it is likely to be someone you’ve never met before, or only know of through referrals from friends or colleagues. That said, by asking the following questions, you can sidestep some of the most common, preventable pitfalls.
Is the firm the IFA works for authorised to offer the financial advice you require?
There are numerous regulatory bodies within the UAE that oversee different areas of financial services, such as the Insurance Authority and the Securities and Commodities Authority. It’s important to ensure that the company you are looking into is fully authorised to offer advice in the right area for you, and of course be regulated by the relevant authority.
Does the finance company have a global presence?
It is widely known that expatriates tend to live a much more transient lifestyle than their counterparts in their home countries. Indeed, it is highly unlikely that the majority of expats residing in the UAE plan to do so for their rest of their lives. Therefore, it’s a good idea to choose an organisation that has a global representation, so you can benefit from a continuity of service should you decide to relocate.
Furthermore, it would be advisable to see if the company the IFA works for has actual offices, as opposed to a call centre, and is fully licensed and regulated in the country you may move to.
Does the IFA have sufficient cross-border knowledge and experience?
Being an expatriate means you can use the fact you reside outside of your home country to your financial advantage. Taking this into account, make sure that your IFA has the relevant cross-border experience and is able to offer a host of products and services, specifically targeted to expatriates.
Are there more options available for the financial advice offered?
A truly independent financial adviser should offer their clients a wide selection of financial products, services and investment choices. Be sure to ask them to provide numerous different options so you can have peace of mind if and when you agree to accept the advice given.
When was the organisation established?
Preferably, choose a company that has been in operation for a minimum of five years. This will enable you to gain a more accurate, reliable view of the firm’s quality of advice, service and history of compliance.
What is the value of the company’s assets under management?
As an idea, a firm that is managing assets exceeding $5 billion would highlight their weight in the industry, a substantial share of the market, durability in the sector and a solid organisational structure.
Does the IFA offer full disclosure?
All communication and negotiation should be clear and upfront from the off. Any agreements entered into should offer full disclosure as to how charges are made, expectations of service and protection levels.
Choosing the right adviser to help you reach your long-term financial objectives will be one of the most important decisions you make. As such, don’t fear asking the difficult questions, select an IFA who is part of a robust organisation, and who has the specialist expertise you need to reach your financial goals.
The writer is Regional Director for the Gulf at deVere Group, a leading independent international financial consultancy.
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