Finding a financial adviser who is trustworthy is the top priority for people on the lookout for financial advice, according to a new survey.
Thirty-six per cent of those polled by the deVere Group, an independent financial advisory firm, described the trait as crucial in their search for an adviser. Meanwhile, 29% said they looked for advisers with relevant qualifications, and 27% sought out those with proven track records. The remaining 8% were unable to answer.
Nigel Green, the deVere Group’s founder and chief executive, said the fact that the top three considerations were too close to call suggests all are “enormously important”.
Speaking about the research, Mark Hoskin, a financial adviser at Holden & Partners in London, said, “I think there are two aspects to selecting an adviser. Firstly, that he or she is someone you gain a professional respect for and can work with; and secondly that you trust him or her to have your best interests at heart.
“There are many advisers out there with similar qualifications, but qualifications do not, on their own, make you a good adviser.”
Lee Smythe, managing director of Kent-based Smythe & Walter Chartered Financial Planners, echoed Hoskin’s sentiments, saying that rapport, which links closely with trustworthiness, was in fact the most important consideration when choosing an adviser.
He added, “Anyone who has specific requirements, such as a desire to take an ethical or sustainable approach to their investments, should also ensure that the adviser they use has the ability (including any relevant qualifications required) and desire to take this in to account in their recommendations.
“However, I wouldn’t say that the priority changes. The rapport still needs to be there, but clients may need to initially speak to more advisers to find an adviser who they feel comfortable with and who would also deal with the ethical or sustainable approach.”
When it comes to dedicated ethical financial advisers, the reasons for selecting an adviser can often be linked with the person’s individual values, and whether the finance professional understands those.
Julian Parrott, partner at Ethical Futures in Edinburgh – a company that sets its stall out to attract ethical investors – said that his firm occasionally gets enquiries from investors who want mainstream advice, but contact Ethical Futures because they perceive them as trustworthy and ethical.
He said, “On these occasions we reemphasise our integrity by referring them to a mainstream planner who we think can help them – because we don’t feel we can deliver that advice as well.
“With ethical clients, it is trustworthiness in the traditional sense and also a preference to advisers who understand what the client’s motivations are. They don’t need to be human right or environmental experts – just willing to understand (not even empathise) these objectives and advise accordingly.”
Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Ethical Financial Advice 2013 has all the information you need on where to find a specialist ethical financial adviser near you.