Yes – all of our financial advisors hold the required qualifications and abide by the standards set by the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Importantly we also ensure that our advisors keep up their continuing professional development (CPD) by carrying out at least 35 hours of relevant training per year so that their knowledge is up to date in relation to any changes to the financial markets, products and services. Clients are free to inspect our advisors’ Statement of Professional Standing (SPS) which are on display in client areas or available electronically on request. The SPS is issued by a FCA accredited body annually and confirm that a financial advisor’s qualifications and CPD have been checked and verified each year.
To be on the safe side, always check the Financial Services Register (https://register.fca.org.uk/s/) to ensure that the company or individual that you are dealing with is authorised and regulated by the FCA.
What is the Difference between Advice and Guidance?
Organisations such as Money Advice Service, Pension Wise, Pension Advisory Service and some charities offer guidance on investments and pension/retirement options. Guidance is not specifically tailored to your individual circumstances and, importantly, when giving guidance no specific recommendation can be made. Financial advice, on the other hand, is specifically tailored to you and your objectives and will come with an expert recommendation about which solutions best suits your needs once everything has been considered properly.
Why is it Important that Financial Advisors are Regulated?
First of all, it is against the law to provide regulated financial advice if you are not appropriately qualified and regulated by the FCA. Secondly, in the unlikely event that things go wrong, and compensation is payable under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), this will only apply when advice has been provided by a regulated financial advisor.
In any event you want to have the peace of mind that the person you are speaking to has the knowledge, experience and qualifications – backed by the FCA, to give you the appropriate advice.
What areas of Financial Advice are Regulated?
When you are looking for financial advice in the following areas it is vital that you only seek advice from regulated financial advisors;
– Financial Products, such as insurance contracts and annuities
– Advising on and dealing in investments
– Advising on pensions, pension transfers and opt outs
– Advising on mortgages
– Advising on home reversion or home purchase plans (Equity Release)
Beware of Pension and Investment Scams
If you are contacted out of the blue about your pensions or investments, it is probably a scam. Scammers are clever and know all the tricks to pressure people into transferring their pension and investments, often overseas where you have no UK consumer protection, promising a guaranteed high rate of return of 10% or more. These are usually false investments in luxury holiday accommodation, environmentally friendly solutions or storage and/or parking. These are all extremely high risk, unregulated investments.
The pension advisory service has a useful tool called “identifying a pension scam” which asks a series of questions to indicate whether or not you are being scammed.
If you think you are being scammed it is important to contact your pension(s) and or investment providers straight away so that they can stop any transfer before it is too late. Secondly, report the details to the Action Fraud helpline – 0300 123 2040.
If you are looking for regulated and professional financial advice, contact Milestone Financial Planning and speak to one of our financial advisors.