By William Offen
When deciding what to do about our finances, there is much to consider. We are arguably in one of the most difficult financial periods that most of us have seen and we simply cannot afford to take chances with our financial planning, or sit back and do nothing!
Given that we know we have to do something, where do we start? We are virtually bombarded with different and differing opinions – from bar room lawyers to so-called experts – no wonder we make costly mistakes.
It’s difficult sometimes even to decide what we want to achieve, let alone how to achieve it. Should we consolidate or attempt growth? Should we take a short or long-term view? Will the Euro collapse? Will the UK leave the EU? What will happen in Greece/Italy/Spain? What’s the BRIC affect, where’s the next rising market?
What are SIPPS, OTC’s, Derivatives, CDS’s, CDO’s, QROPS, QNUPS, ERBS, SICAV’s etc. etc. It goes on and on, leaving us with a huge dilemma at (for many of us) a critical time in our lives.
So, how do we make the right decisions?
This is really a multilevel question. The first level is, what are the decisions and can we make them on our own or do we need expert help? If we choose the ‘go it alone’ route, can we be sure that we have all the information we need to make the right choices, and if we choose the expert route, how can we be sure we can choose the right experts?
The answers to this question mostly lay in the second part. It feels more difficult to trust a third party with your finances, more difficult to decide not only how good they are but also how good are the solutions they provide. It feels easier perhaps to take the path that appears simpler; if we do it ourselves then we only have the solution to worry about!
However, the fact is, whether we go it alone or choose an advisor, we are choosing an advisor!
The question then is easier than it appears. We simply have to choose the right advisor. So, line up all the advisors, ourselves included, and choose the one(s) that we can trust to give us the best results. If we can do that, we can seek the answers to the remaining questions, such as risk, portfolio spread, tax efficiencies, where etc. It’s all a question of trust.
Some of the advisors in our line up will have a high level of knowledge; some will have many years of experience. Some will be better placed to access the best products and some will have our best interests in mind. There is, however, just one advisor in our line that needs special expertise – the special expertise to choose the right advisor.
So what should we expect from our advisor?
Research without cost or obligation – we have the right to find out if we want to work with an advisor without being obligated in any way, and to ask any question that will help us decide our way forward without pressure of any kind.
Holistic advice – This means our advisor will take the time to go through a full interview and fact-find procedure to get to know our entire financial situation before setting up a financial plan, not just presenting information on a single product.
Developing an overall strategy – A good advisor takes all aspects of our ongoing requirements into consideration and takes a balanced approach to our short, medium and long-term requirements.
Advice on specific investments that match your goals – a good advisor develops our personal plan with specific recommendations, providing research supporting the recommendations.
Proactive personal management – This means regular appraisals to ensure our plans are still relevant and fit the changing market situations.
Maintaining a strong relationship – We should feel we can speak to our advisor at any time. A good advisor’s main aim is the peace of mind of his clients and must be instrumental in helping us achieve our financial objectives.
Above all else we should expect to work with an advisor that we trust and respect, one who can show that he respects us and our requirements and will work to provide the absolute solution to our needs.
Blacktower Financial Management takes great pride in providing the best financial holistic advice. You can find out how we do this with one simple phone call to 289 355 685. The decision is yours.
William Offen is Blacktower Financial Management (International) Country Manager, Portugal