If you are considering seeking financial advice or you currently have financial products but you aren’t feeling the love from your current provider, we would like to talk to you. We offer the following advantages over larger firms;
1. Personal Service
When you deal with us you will only speak to real people. You will never have to listen to a machine that tells you to dial one for Sales, two for Accounts. You will never receive an email from us that you can’t respond to. The email address [email protected] doesn’t exist.
No matter how large your financial profile, when you deal with a larger company you are less important to them than you are to a boutique firm like Highfield Financial Planning. We recently took over the management of a large pension which had been managed by a tied agent of a large insurance company. The client had been trying to get information in relation to the investment strategy for his pension for years without success. The charges on his pension were excessive and the assets it was invested in made no sense (which is probably why nobody had been willing to explain the strategy to him). In addition, while he thought he was on course to have sufficient income in retirement, the truth was that given the amount of his current income, his pension was underfunded. We fixed all of this and he now knows exactly what he is invested in and what the strategy is, in the event that markets continue to grow or, if a correction occurs.
You may feel that it is safer to deal with a large firm as their staff are likely to be better qualified however nothing could be further from the truth. The minimum qualification which is required to be a financial adviser in Ireland is Qualified Financial Adviser (QFA). Some advisers have an additional qualification called Certified Financial Planner (CFP®). There are around 16,500 QFA’s in Ireland and around 700 CFP®’s so the vast majority of the time you will be dealing with a QFA. Sometimes you may even be dealing with an adviser who has no qualification but unbelievably there is no way for you to know this as there is no independent means for you to check. If you deal with us your adviser will have QFA and he or she will also either be a Certified Financial Planner or will be working towards this qualification under the supervision of an experienced CFP. You can check if your adviser has the CFP designation on the FPSB website here. If he or she has CFP then it follows that they have QFA as it is a requirement that all CFP’s have first completed QFA.
If you deal with a Bank or a tied agent they can only offer you products which are provided by their employer. We have agencies with all the main life companies and we make recommendations based on a fair analysis of the market. This means that the number of contracts and providers considered must be sufficiently large to enable us to recommend a product that would be adequate to meet your needs. It also means that you are likely to get a product with lower charges.
4. Fiduciary Standard and Conflicts of Interest
As a CFP® firm we follow a fiduciary standard when dealing with clients. This means we place your interests above our own. Some larger firms got large because, although they were classified as brokers, they favoured particular product providers and in return got special treatment like override commission (for exceeding targets) or soft commissions (non cash based rewards). This meant that the products they recommended were based on their needs not yours. This creates a conflict of interest and it is prohibited but unfortunately for consumers this is very difficult to police. We have never accepted special treatment from a product provider and never will. This way you can be assured that we are acting in your interest.
We saw in the news this week (week beginning 1/3/2021) that one of the largest brokerages in the country was hit by a €4.1 m Central Bank fine in relation to a bond deal where a group of 16 staff, including senior executives, sought to make a profit without telling the client or the firm’s own compliance officers. The truth is that there is no jeopardy for staff of large financial institutions if they breach compliance or ethics rules as it is the firm rather than the individual which is penalised. A breach like this would have serious implications for a small brokerage as well as it’s Directors and owners. Compliance and ethics issues can affect everything from the largest bond deal to a simple mortgage protection policy.
5. The Machine
If your firm has doric columns out the front and a water feature in reception, then it has a large machine which needs to be fed. We don’t have doric columns and we don’t have to do every deal. Sometimes we will tell you to stay in your current product; we can do this as we don’t have large fixed costs which have to be discharged by our clients.
Even if you deal with a small firm like us you don’t have to worry that your money could be at risk if the firm were to fail. When you invest through us (be it in a pension or an investment) the funds go directly to the product provider. Even if our firm failed your money is safe as it doesn’t pass through our bank accounts. We offer the exact same protections as larger firms; we are members of the Investor Compensation Scheme operated by the Investor Compensation Company Ltd and we are also members of the Brokers Ireland Compensation Fund.
7. How We Are Paid
We can be remunerated purely by way of commission from the product provider or alternatively if you wish we can charge you a fee (which may work out cheaper for you over the long term). Regardless of how we are paid we always facilitate an initial meeting free of charge and we always disclose and agree any fees in writing prior to commencing work.
8. Follow Up
Lastly, if you meet us for a chat and decide to proceed we will follow up diligently. We won’t tell you to call us, we will diarise and call you. If on the other hand you decide not to proceed we won’t pursue you to the ends of the earth. You can expect a follow up communication and one reminder. No pressure.
If you need financial advice or if you have financial products but you’re not currently feeling the love from your adviser, contact us on 01 546 1100, by using the contact form below, or by email to [email protected]
The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. Neither the writer nor Highfield Financial Planning Ltd makes any warranty as to the completeness, accuracy or reliability of the information or the suitability or availability of products or services, referred to on the website, for any purpose. You should not rely on any information contained on this website as a basis for making any financial, legal, taxation or other decision.
© Highfield Financial Planning 18 October 2019 (edited 04/03/2021 to include comment re conflicts of interest)