Financial planning and solicitors – choose a quality firm, not a tied adviser

February 16th, 2011 by

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Dan Woodruff

Dan Woodruff

Certified Financial Planner & Chartered Wealth Manager at Woodruff Financial Planning
Financial Planning helps you to navigate and anticipate significant life changes. I want to help you to ensure your money is managed wisely to give you the financial security that will fund the future and lifestyle that is important to you.

If you are a solicitor you may be aware of the Solicitor Regulation Authority (SRA) rules that referrals should only be made to independent financial advisers.  It seems that despite this, many solicitors are still referring clients to St. James’s Place, which is a tied adviser firm; such referrals therefore break the SRA guidance.

To be honest, this is probably looking at the wrong issue.  We feel that the quality of the advice is the paramount concern, although we do believe that tied firms such as the one mentioned do not necessarily offer the best advice or value for clients of solicitors.

So here is our take on why how we work fits with the requirements of a modern legal practice:

Lexcel Practice Management Standard 8.9

Choosing an IFA – guidance for solicitors

We are confident that we meet all of the criteria for the selection of a financial planner for your clients. We have included the guidance below, as well as comments on how we meet the standards required.

Criteria:

Independence
We are independent of product providers, and adopt a whole of market approach to the selection of products.  In addition, we produce comprehensive financial plans before we recommend products, so our recommendations are based on the needs of clients rather than the sale of products. In contrast to some advisers such as St. James’s Place, we do not restrict the products offered.

Direct Authorisation
We are not part of any financial network which could unduly influence us.  We are directly authorised by the Financial Services Authority, and as such are responsible directly to the Regulator for our own compliance.  We have passed every FSA requirement to trade and are confident in our independence and stability as a result.

Fee-based remuneration
We are fee-based, and have been for a number of years. We feel that the majority of Financial Advisers inadvertently prejudice their clients’ needs by allowing themselves to be influenced by product providers’ commissions.  We take this out of the process and, like you, charge for our advice and expertise.

Qualifications
We have attained a greater level of qualifications than are currently required, or indeed will be required by 2012.  The standard has been set at QCA Level 4.  Our Principal adviser has QCA Level 6 as a Certified Financial Planner.  Also, he has a Law degree and the Diploma in Legal Practice, which places him in a unique position in the financial adviser community.

Disciplinary record
We have never had a client complaint, and regularly monitor client satisfaction with our services.  We are proud of our customer satisfaction levels. 

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