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How to choose the best financial advice company

Published on: 03/16/16 03:13:pm

Choosing the best financial advice company or financial adviser in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Saudi Arabia can be a daunting task. The market here is flooded with financial planners ranging from large companies to individual planners. In fact, there are over 58,000 people working in financial services in the UAE alone. So how do you select who will look after your hard earned money? Here are 10 things to look for to ensure you invest wisely:

1. Are they certified or regulated, and by whom?

All financial advice or wealth management companies based in the Middle East should be regulated. The minimum level of regulation in the UAE is the in-house regulation by the Securities and Commodities Authority. Although this is the minimum required level you should check if your financial advice company is regulated by any other jurisdiction's authority. For instance, if the company has a UK office they may ensure that the offices worldwide comply to the UK regulatory body, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This regulation ensures that all procedures and advice follow practices to ensure the customer gets the best possible advice.

2. Are they personally qualified and how do they continue to learn?

Financial advice companies will normally train their staff or ensure their staff are

trained to the level of their parent company's country. For UK based companies the certification required is provided through the Chartered Insurance Institute or the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment.

As part of a financial adviser's learning they must have to continually develop their knowledge and skills. For this the Continued Professional Development (CPD) is generally recognised. This is a measure to ensure that advisers continue to understand the market and develop their skills and knowledge. Ask your financial adviser what ongoing learning they undertake to stay on top of their industry knowledge.

3. How long have they been in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Saudi Arabia?

When looking at this region it is imperative that the financial adviser or company understands the local and regional financial markets. The Middle East has many traits that differ from the worldwide market place and the way people spend or invest their money is often dissimilar to other global marketplaces.

Your financial adviser must understand the region and the people within it to give you comprehensive advice. You should first check how long your financial advice company has been in the region. It is likely that if a company has been in the regional industry for over 5 years they will have a solid understanding of the region and what happens here. Also look at the leading individuals within the company, how long have they practised for and how long have they served the industry in your region.

4. How long has that financial adviser worked for that company?

The financial advice industry is transient and advisers tend to move from company to company with no real loyalty to a single company for one reason or another. Often it is the case that a wealth management company gives promises to its advisers that are not met. If your adviser has spent a number of years in that same company it is likely that they believe in the ethics and practices of that company. If your adviser believes in the values of their company they are likely to be giving advice which is to the best interest of their customers.

5. Size of the company?

It is an age old argument between the personal touch of an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) or the collective knowledge of a financial advice company. On one hand you will receive a closer relationship with an IFA but on the other side you are completely reliant on their individual knowledge. It is unlikely that you will find an individual that has complete knowledge of all global financial markets and investment opportunities within them. It is a better bet to look for a company that has a wealth of knowledge in various regions.

Try to check out their local and global presence. The chances are that if your company has a large presence here and in other areas that they are doing something right. Try looking for a company that strikes the balance of both sides of the argument: Can they give you the support of the knowledge base of a larger company but allocate you your own personal adviser that you communicate solely with?

6. What services do they provide?

An important element of this question is also what assistance the adviser will not give you. Some people are just investment advisors and only provide you advice on your investments, while other planners offer comprehensive financial planning around retirement, insurance, education planning, estate planning and tax planning. Ask your adviser about the services they offer and what in particular is important in your region and for your requirements. Choose someone whose offerings suit your needs.

7. Use social media to your disposal?

Of the many tools in the market, one of the very best is LinkedIn. Any financial adviser worth his salt will have a LinkedIn profile. There are a few factors to check out here for both the individual and the company. This platform can also answer some of the questions previously mentioned...

Personal

  1. How long have they been in their industry?
  2. What professional qualifications do they hold and how regularly are these updated?
  3. How many endorsements do they have and for what?
  4. How many recommendations do they have and what do these say?
  5. What groups are they part of?
  6. Who do they follow?


Company

  1. How long have they been in business?
  2. What certifications do they have?
  3. What regulatory bodies do they comply to?
  4. What following does the company have?
  5. Do they give out free advice about the markets (and we mean free advice, not just a sales pitch)?
  6. What does the information they give say about the level of knowledge of this company? Do they really understand the market?

Use LinkedIn to also see who in your network is also connected to your financial adviser. These people could understand how these individuals work or could have personally invested with them. Ask these people to provide personal feedback on this adviser.

8. Get personal - How does your financial adviser speak to you?

Financial advisers are outgoing and bubbly by nature. They are often good communicators that talk a good game. Try to listen to the balance of the conversation. Are they speaking 90% of the time or are they asking you questions and listening? Look for advisers that drive into areas that you identify that are important. What questions do they ask you? Do they listen to and understand your needs? Go with the adviser that puts you first and asks/listens with integrity.

9. What clients do they have?

Ask your financial adviser or advice company what clients they have? This will give you a good understanding of the type of people they work with. Also ask what clients they have that similar requirements to you. What advice did they give and how did it help them? A good adviser will be able to give a sample financial plan. This will outline their approach to the challenges and obstacles that have may have been faced previously by people in a similar situation to you. This will also demonstrate their professional approach to financial planning.

10. Ask for references

A good financial adviser or advice company will be able to give you references of people in a similar situation to you. Financial advisers should have close personal relationships with the clients they serve. They have to understand that individual completely to allow them to give the perfect advice. Ask for referrals to these people. They will be able to give you insights from the other side of the relationship. Look for advisers that offer this to you without question or hesitation.

Summary

Choosing your financial adviser or financial advice company could be one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. Do your due diligence and use the tools available to you to make sure you get to the company or individual that will understand you best and provide the ultimate solution to your requirements.

Are you looking for a company to help you plan your finances better? Consider a FREE Financial Health Check with one of our consultants to get you started.

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