Money Mondays: when should you get a financial advisor?

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Money Mondays is your go-to guide for all the information you need to manage your finances. For this week’s Independent Woman’s Bank Account column we ask Karen Barrett, founder and CEO of finance website, Unbiased, to answer all our questions about having a financial advisor.

What do you wish you’d known 10 years ago? And what do you wish you’d done? I know that sounds like a motivational poster, but I’d call it the best reason for any woman to have a financial adviser. You can think of financial advice as a form of life coaching – but one that recognises how expensive life is and plans around that.

But when should you seek financial advice, and how do you go about finding an advisor? Below, we answer the most common questions and outline everything you need to know about financial advisors.

What does a financial advisor do?

In the quest for financial security, women face a steeper climb than men. Due to wage inequality, and the possibility of career breaks later on, you need to be on your best game from the start. This is where a financial adviser is like your personal trainer: helping you save towards the cost of a home, find a mortgage, protect your income from illness and accidents, make use of an inheritance, change your career or start your own business – the list is as big as your ambitions. Most of all, they help ensure that it’s you who’s in control of your money – rather than letting your money make the decisions.

A financial advisor can help you with saving for a new home

Do I need a certain amount of money or income to be eligible for an advisor?

How much money do you need for financial advice to be ‘worth it’? It varies between advisers – some like you to have at least £30,000 to work with – but many set no minimum. What’s more, if you’re young you have time on your side; an extra 10 or 20 years can work wonders when it comes to investments, so a little advice early on can end up paying for itself many times over. And that in turn can free up cash for you to live the way you want to – whether that’s travelling the world, creating the perfect living space or just enjoying the finer things with friends.

How do I know if I need a financial advisor?

If you don’t know whether financial advice is for you, then just ask. Most financial advisers will happily offer a free initial meeting to discuss your circumstances, with no obligation to go any further. An FCA-regulated financial adviser has a duty of care to act in your best interests, so if they don’t feel they can deliver value for money, they’ll tell you so. To get an idea of what questions to ask, you can use the Unbiased adviser checklist.

How much does it cost?

A financial adviser works for you, not product providers, so will charge you a fee. The fee depends on the kind of work they do for you, and whether it’s one-off or ongoing – but you should never be afraid to ask how the cost is justified by the long-term benefits. And some of them are really long-term; maybe you don’t plan ever to have kids, but plans change, the unexpected happens, and a financial adviser helps you be ready for that. Looking even further ahead, advice can make sure you’re saving enough to retire in the style you deserve.

Remember: a financial adviser works for you, not product providers, so will charge you a fee

How do I choose an advisor?

So how do you find your adviser? Well, just as technology now lets you grab a cab from pretty much anywhere, so can it also find the perfect financial adviser for you in moments. With a little information about your circumstances and life stage, the Unbiased matching tool can locate the best expert to help.

Ultimately, financial advice is about giving yourself long-term independence and the freedom to choose. You don’t yet know what your future self will want – being your own boss, further education or maybe starting a family – but we’d all prefer to have those choices when the time comes. 

Images: Sharon McCutcheon, Travel Cents, Samad Jble

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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Commissioning Editor at Stylist. Follow her on Twitter