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SME Owners - Ten Questions to ask an Independent Financial Advisor

Last week we brought our readers some advice on where to go for financial guidance when running a small business.  Being a successful SME owner does not necessarily mean being an expert on financial issues, and canny business owners find that the services of an independent financial advisor can be worth the expense when compared with the money saved as a result of their input.

Today, as promised, we’re going to take a look at some of the issues you should consider when choosing an independent financial advisor for your business.

Independent financial advisors (IFAs) will provide impartial, unrestricted advice which considers every option on the market in order to make sure your business is making the most of its money and opportunities.  Here are ten questions you can ask a prospective financial advisor to help make your decision.

  1. Do you give independent or restricted financial advice?  A “restricted” financial advisor works for a particular company or product provider and can only recommend specific products or product providers.  This is not independent financial advice.
  2. What level of professional qualifications do you hold and are you qualified in the specific areas on which I want advice?
  3. Do you provide regular business health checks? 
  4. Do you offer advice on business protection, such as intellectual property protection and business insurance?
  5. Do you offer advice on staff schemes such as work place pensions and other employee benefits?
  6. Do you provide investment advice, looking at ways of growing the business through investment, such as in new technologies, new equipment and alternative service providers?
  7. Do you include retirement planning with guidance on winding up the company, staff relocation, or handing over control of the business to another person?
  8. What initial advice and ongoing services do you provide and how is this service delivered – is it face to face or via email or phone?
  9. What fees do I pay now and how do I pay them – how much will I need to pay on an ongoing basis?
  10. Will I always deal with you, or will other people in your company deal with my requirements as well?

Each business is unique with its own set of circumstances and requirements, its own way of operating.  When seeking a financial advisor, an independent viewpoint is probably more beneficial because the person will take an objective look at your business and suggest solutions that are tailored to your individual business requirements.

Knowing the issues that surround your business and the sector in which you operate will enable your independent financial advisor to find the most suitable financial solutions to meet your needs.  Before beginning a search for an independent financial advisor, take a look at your business as a whole, think about what you want from your business, whether you want to increase business in future and what you would like your business to look like in five years’ time.  Making sure you have a clear idea of exactly where you are and your plans for the future should help you to find the right independent financial advisor for your business.