The Back Pocket
Savings Accounts - Professional Advice
When it comes to savings, you may well find yourself daunted by the sheer variety of ways to invest your money. Particularly if you find yourself with a substantial amount to invest, and are less than confident at dealing with things like the stock market, bonds and trusts, you’re likely to gain from professional expertise. The main issue here is trust – you want to be sure your money is being used to its full potential and whoever you entrust it to must be someone you have total confidence in. If you have a basic understanding of how savings and investments work, however, it will be a lot easier to make judgements about the reliability and efficiency of individual advisers. Independent Financial Advisers Usually you will not be charged for general advice, but the adviser will gain commission when he or she sells you particular products. Don’t be afraid to ask about commissions – a good adviser should be open and transparent about such matters.
They are duty bound to find out all relevant information about you and then give ‘best advice’ – which means selling you the products that are most suitable for your situation. Accountants Accountants normally advise on book keeping and tax, but sometimes also give advice about investments. If involved with investing, they must belong to one of the Recognised Professional Bodies responsible for regulating their business. These include the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. Stockbrokers If you are dealing on the stock market, you will need to buy and sell your shares through a broker.
If you want advice on your investments, choose a traditional stockbroker. On the other hand, there are brokers that offer a dealing-only service, and this is a cheaper way to buy and sell shares. Stockbrokers charge a commission on deals, and a traditional brokers service should include advice. www.londonstockexchange.com provides detailed advice and ways to locate a broker. The Financial Services Authority regulates all these professionals – if you are unsure about the credentials or dealings of someone check with them to verify that they are legitimate and are operating fairly. The FSA website also has details of what to do if you are unhappy with the service you’ve received from a finance professional – check www.fsa.gov.
Once again, the government’s advice site has sound information on the basic principles – and links to other information sites. www.direct.gov.
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