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When considering our financial options, many of us don’t have the time or inclination to research and explore a wide range of products. Many of us also lack confidence when it comes to making decisions about our finances, which is why a visit to a financial adviser can be incredibly useful, particularly when we’re thinking about investing substantial amounts of cash into property.

Of course, it’s possible to approach any lender to discuss their range of available financial products. Staff will be happy to discuss these options in general terms but are not qualified to help you reach a decision about the best course of action for your individual circumstances.

What is a financial adviser?

Knight Knox – MPU

A financial adviser is different in that he or she can do what the name suggests, offer concrete advice on the most prudent course of action, after thoroughly assessing your needs. Professional financial advice can also help you secure a better outcome than what you might hope to achieve by acting independently.

However, always remember that signing on the dotted line is your decision, regardless whether you’ve received expert guidance.

What happens when I visit a financial adviser?

When visiting a financial adviser, he or she will normally take you through a full financial audit, asking questions about your borrowing history, current financial position, any savings or investments you might have and what you hope to achieve in the future.

Your financial adviser should let you know the full range of options available to you within a certain area and should talk you through the pros and cons of each. He or she should then help you come to a decision about your next steps.

Are there different types of financial advisers?

Yes. The most important distinction to make is whether a financial adviser is independent or restricted. An independent financial adviser is not affiliated with or tied to any financial product or organisation.

This type of adviser can give you general, impartial advice on all financial matters and will not earn a commission if you take up a product. Instead, their income comes from the fee that you pay for their time.

Restricted financial advisers are affiliated with one or more companies. If you take up a financial product from one of these companies, based on the advice you have been given, your adviser will receive a commission. This means that the advice offered cannot be considered to be completely impartial. Financial advisers must disclose whether or not their advice is commission based.

Generalist vs niche financial advisers

Another distinction is that some financial advisers are generalist and some work within a niche. Generalist advisers can give you information and guidance on a wide range of financial products, from mortgages to personal loans. Niche advisers are specialists within a certain area, such as mortgages or property investment.

An adviser who specialises will offer highly-focused information and guidance drawn from years of experience, and so may charge a higher fee than one who offers more general advice.

Do I need to see a financial adviser when I make a property investment?

If you are buying a property to be used as a personal dwelling, you may choose to visit a financial adviser who specialises in mortgages, in order to secure a competitive borrowing deal to finance your purchase. Many of us feel confident in researching mortgage deals ourselves online, or directly approaching mortgage lenders to discuss available options.

If you’re buying a property as an investment, it may well be prudent to seek the assistance of a specialist financial adviser, as the process can be much more complex than when buying your own home. If you need a buy-to-let mortgage, for instance, you’ll be faced with a wider and more complicated range of choices than a standard mortgage applicant.

You may also need to consider financial products like home improvement loans, funding for auction purchases, commercial mortgages or bridging and development funding, in order to cover short-term costs. These are delicate areas and navigating them takes a great deal of time and effort.

The range of financial products available for investors can be overwhelming, even for seasoned professionals. For those who are investing in property for the first time, by buying a home for a child while at university or purchasing a property to fund their retirement, the process may well be baffling and more than a little frightening. A financial adviser can help you navigate this complex new world, identifying which products you’re likely to need, and advising on how to secure the best deals.

Going through a financial adviser means that you have a certain amount of protection, should something go wrong. If unsuitable advice is given, for example, or your adviser is found not to have disclosed full and frank information, you will not be held personally accountable and will be able to seek compensation through the legal system.

Can a financial adviser help me with anything else?

Some people visit a financial adviser once they have decided to make a property investment, in order to locate and take advantage of the best relevant deals.

Others may visit a financial adviser before deciding what to invest their money in. A financial adviser will be able to tell you how different types of investing work, and how they might affect your current financial situation.

If you decide that property investment is right for you, your financial adviser will also be able to help you with issues like cash flow, insurance, tax implications and estate planning – approaching the investment from a holistic point of view.

How can I decide whether or not to see a financial adviser?

As with anyone deciding whether or not to use a financial adviser, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have the necessary experience and expertise to find the best deal?
  • Can I afford to lose money if I make a poor financial decision?
  • Do I have ample time to do adequate research?

If you answer no to these questions, you may decide that consulting a financial adviser is a sound investment that will pay returns in the future.

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Steven Taylor
Steven reports on the daily churn of the property news cycle, often reporting on the stories you may have missed during the week. He covers a range of topics, including market sentiment, new findings and announcements by policy-makers.

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