© 2015 The Care Advice Line. 

Professional legal and financial support

 

Legal and financial matters are often over-looked when it comes to arranging care for yourself or a loved one.

 

Questions to ask yourself are:

 

  • Have you got in place the appropriate permissions to allow someone to act on your behalf if you are not able to do so?

  • Is your Will up to date and does it reflect your current wishes?

  • If you are responsible for paying for any aspect of your care have you explored the various ways to pay for your care?

  • Are you aware that you may not have to sell your home to pay for your care?

 

The Care Advice Line works with a panel of legal and financial professionals who in addition to holding the required professional qualifications also hold relevant accreditations and memberships thereby demonstrating competency and experience in their specialist area.

 

If you would like us to help you access the services of a legal or financial professional then please contact us on 0161 413 7860.

 

If you are considering taking out financial advice independently there are five simple questions we believe you should ask your financial adviser to reassure yourself that you will be getting the best possible advice.

 

1. Is the adviser independent?

 

In December 2012 new regulations called the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) were introduced. This requires all advisers to declare their status under one of two options, as per the guidelines set down by the Financial Conduct Authority. An independent classification is likely to be the most beneficial to clients since it requires firms to offer a “fair and comprehensive assessment” of all of the solutions which might meet their needs and for such an assessment to be undertaken without restriction or bias – ie whole of market. The alternative is for firms to offer clients a restricted service, which the Financial Conduct Authority defines as not complying with the requirements of independence. By default this means that the advice provided may be biased and may not be based on a fair assessment of all options available.

 

2. Do they offer advice on a broad range of products and services?

 

In addition to looking for an independent firm, clients should also ensure that their adviser is able to fully service their potential needs. Their ability to do so will depend on their “relevant market” which can be defined in a number of ways. Care should be taken to avoid advisers who work within a narrow market as this may dictate that they are unable to advise on all possible client solutions.

 

3. Does the adviser hold the relevant qualifications?

 

In addition to meeting the Financial Conduct Authority requirements to provide regulated advice, there are a number of additional qualifications which an adviser might hold to demonstrate their particular skills

and expertise in a given advice area. The Later Life Adviser Accreditation is one such qualification which uniquely seeks to test both technical knowledge and practical application. Advisers who hold the accreditation are eligible for membership of the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) - a not for profit, consumer facing organisation which seeks to assist clients in accessing the “gold standard” of advice in later life.

 

4. Does the adviser have to sell you something to get paid?

 

One of the key elements of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) was the abolition of commission as a way of advisers being paid as this has been identified as a significant factor in the provision of unsuitable customer outcomes. As a result of the changes, a number of advisory firms have elected to take their remuneration through a charge applied to the product they recommend - usually expressed as a percentage of the amount invested. However, if an adviser’s remuneration is linked to or dependent on their recommendation of regulated product, this must inevitably raise concerns that it potentially creates a bias towards the use of products which offer such a remuneration mechanism. The most suitable remuneration terms are therefore likely to involve a direct billing method, where a fee is agreed at the outset for the works to be undertaken and which is completely disconnected from the solution which is recommended or the amount being invested.

 

5. Is the adviser clear and unambiguous about their offering?

 

The requirements of providing a fully independent service are more onerous than for a restricted service and as a result, many advisory firms may have opted for the restricted alternative. Although the Financial Conduct Authority guidelines are clear, not all firms are using the same language and terminology to explain their regulatory status and some may prefer to avoid using the term “restricted adviser” for fear that it may undermine customer confidence in their ability to provide the best possible advice. Consequently there is the possibility that consumers may be confused or may not fully understand the service offered by their financial adviser. Terms such as ‘specialist’ and ‘impartial’ may be used as an alternative to ‘independent’ but they don’t mean the same. If the adviser can answer yes to all of the above questions then you are likely to be getting the best possible service. If not, then you may wish to source an alternative financial adviser or contact The Care Advice Line.