As financial advisers, we always empathise as much as we can with our clients i.e., put ourselves in your position. Is the product or service right for you, ‘in your eyes’? (as well as ours).
There are 4 key areas for Good Consumer Outcomes that the FCA insist on and that we already employ:
1. Governance of products and services - is the financial business being run with the right approach for consumer ethics and employee welfare too?
Our approach has always been that we are consumers too. We buy goods and services out there every day, the same as you do. We worry about increased costs, mortgages, pensions, the children, the dog, energy prices, staff wages, our wages, the business and more. Just like you do. We treat clients the way that we would like to be treated when buying goods and services. We provide thousands of pages, articles, news and videos online. Our fees and the services offered are described in full online and you can always access free fee quotations online. We also believe by being clear, fair and not misleading to clients also puts are own employees welfare as a priority as they know that they are doing a good job in the best interests of clients, that they are paid fairly, that they have secure employment, that they have ample time to be with or on holiday with family and friends and that they have support from us when in difficult times.
2. Price and value – is the value charge a fair reflection of costs for works and time involved as well as the liability taken on?
Our fees are online and readily available for you to compare against others. We do not hide our fees and we do not confuse the issue with a % upfront and an ongoing %. This may result in some clients paying too much which subsidises some clients who do not pay enough for similar services. All our fees are quoted in clear priced numeric values. Our fees usually incorporate a core fee for all clients for the same work (as we do a similar amount of basic work for all clients) e.g., discussions and fact find questionnaires. There is usually then a charge linked to volume and liability. There is double the work for a client with 4 pension plans to review compared to a client with 2 pension plans to review. In this case the same core fee will be charged plus a fee linked to the number of plans reviewed. A client with £500,000 in their pension fund represents a greater advice liability, professional indemnity insurance and regulatory costs than a client with £50,000 in their pension fund. Again the same core fee is charged plus a fee linked to the size of the fund given the greater liability and product/fund research time.
3. Consumer Understanding – what is the client’s knowledge and experience of finance, should they really have that expensive, complex product if they have little understanding?
Our discussions with clients and fact find questionnaires not only look at the factual data of your position but we also explore your past experience and knowledge of financial services, your general education levels, your hobbies and interests, your attitude to risk and your background. Just because two people went to the same school, their background and upbringing may mean completely different views on tax, estate planning, investing, socially responsible matters, politics or indeed any other matter. We will only recommend products, services and solutions that are understandable and manageable for you within your own attitudes, experiences, and cost expectations. We will only offer solutions that are in your best interests, whether you like the solutions or not, we will always offer advice in your best interests.
4. Consumer Support – what is both initial and ongoing support for you? Do we ensure continued support and access to support for you?
For all clients and contacts, we have 12,000 pages published online with 7,000+ news stories, 2,000 videos, 1,500 factual/information pages on all matters of finance and tax, plus published fees for 60+ different product and service lines. We offer a free consultation to all, either non-face to face via telephone, video, chat box or email as well as face to face facilities at our 3 locations of London, Midlands and South-West as well as home and workplace visits. We issue two weekly updates, one on markets and another on news, videos and articles amounting to around 200+ news items and 200+ videos per annum. We also issue two separate ‘easy read’ and ‘technical read’ newsletters every quarter. Clients can book a call back at any time using our online booking service or simply call us. We have out of hours secure messaging, email and secure document upload/exchange facilities. Gold and Platinum clients also get full performance and fund reviews annually or quarterly respectively. The directors of the firm also make their private mobile numbers available to all clients as well as them being published in the online client area in case you have out of hours needs or worries or indeed just need to hear a friendly voice.
We believe all of the above is essential to the financial wellbeing of our clients as well as building up trust between each other and also for the financial and mental wellbeing of all our employees.