Cash clinic: ‘Think about what to achieve before considering solutions’

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Q. I KNOW that financial advisers can no longer be paid by commission for recommending investments, but I’d feel uncomfortable paying a large fee to a financial adviser who is likely simply to recommend a product that I could buy myself directly.

I do not, however, have great confidence in my own ability to manage my money. What options are open to me?

AY, Dunblane

A. The abolishment of commission for new investments, which took effect on 31 December, was part of reforms under the Financial Services Authority’s retail distribution review.

It means that customers move to a fee basis where adviser remuneration is discussed and agreed at outset. Customers can finally see clearly what they are paying for and can agree the level of ongoing advice and services they require. Where a customer does not see any value being added by their adviser, or indeed if there is none, they can and should walk away.

There are many excellent financial planning practices which can take a holistic view of your circumstances and objectives and prepare a plan to help you get where you wish to be. Your relationship with the financial planner should involve regular contact, as it is important to review and discuss progress against your own financial plan.

You should expect the advice you receive to evolve as your circumstances or objectives change, not to mention to guide you around issues arising from factors out with your control such as the general financial climate or the impact of legislation on taxation.

In your circumstances, you should firstly think about what you wish to achieve before considering potential solutions. Most financial planners offer a free introductory meeting which could be of real benefit to you. The best relationships are forged with people who you trust and who have demonstrable expertise. Certified or chartered financial planner status can provide some reassurance of a high technical level of knowledge and commitment to high standards.

If you decide against taking individual advice, the Money Advice Service could help you. This is an independent online service, initially set up by the Government, which offers impartial information and generic advice on a range of financial matters.

• Stephen Hall is a wealth manager at Cornerstone Asset Management LLP.

If you have a question you need answered, write to Jeff Salway, The Scotsman, 108 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS or email The above is for general purposes only and is not tailored for individual use. It does not constitute legal, financial or investment advice on any particular matter and must not be treated as a substitute for specific advice. No action should be taken in reliance of the information given. The Scotsman Publications Ltd and Cornerstone Asset Management LLP accept no liability on the basis of this article.