What Does A Financial Adviser Do?

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Meet your Financial Adviser in Sheffield

Marcus Warburton introduces the Sheffield-based company and explains exactly what a financial adviser does.

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What exactly is the role of a financial adviser?

Well, the first myth to dispel is that we’re only for rich people – that’s not true. Everybody at some point can benefit from having a financial adviser.

If you have a pension, which most people do, or a mortgage, or some monies that you don’t want to just leave in the bank, then a financial adviser is the person who will help you sort those issues out. Life insurance is another typical issue that people need help with.

What most people do is shop around on the internet or go into their high street bank. They’ll get whatever is targeted at them, but it’s not necessarily the cheapest or the most suitable deal. That’s where a financial adviser comes into their own. We have access to things that most people don’t, or will miss when they’re looking direct.

What services does a financial adviser offer? 

It’s quite a wide-ranging service. A typical one is pensions, where a standard situation would be consolidating three or four different pensions from various employment roles into one pension. Or perhaps we’re setting up a new pension to pay into and sit alongside existing ones.

Another typical service would be to help somebody who has some money that they need to invest: in an ISA or perhaps their pension. The options depend on what they want to achieve – growth, income or tax efficiency, for example.

A client might also ask us to set up life insurance for them to protect their family if somebody dies. Insurance will mean the family won’t have to sell their house – they can pay the mortgage off and potentially create some capital to generate income. Life insurance is an area where we really prove our value. Your life insurance premium is paid every month for 10, 15, 20 years – so even if we save you £1 a month over 20 years that’s a substantial difference.

Mortgages are another key area. People get a mortgage and then two or three years later that deal comes up for renewal or it ends. It’s really common for people’s circumstances to have changed and find that the bank is no longer as friendly as they were. Again, we can make quite a substantial difference in finding a mortgage that works at an affordable cost.

Another area where we get involved is inheritance. Mum and Dad die and somebody has to deal with selling their house, and then they have some savings and investments and or a pension that can be transferred. That’s been one of the biggest changes recently. People have grown up in a world where when you die, your pension dies. That is not true now – your pension survives and passes to your children. That can take a bit of work to make sure it happens efficiently.

So, there are a lot of trigger points where someone can come and see a financial adviser.

When should I see a financial adviser and what should I expect?

It is always good to get us involved as early as possible. People worry about cost, but that’s not how it works. It’s not about charging a huge fee up front. We don’t work that way and a lot of firms nowadays don’t either.

We treat everybody the same way, regardless of how much money they’ve got or what the situation is. We have an initial discussion and it becomes obvious fairly quickly whether or not we can do something for that person.

If we are going to proceed, usually we’ll arrange a meeting in your home or in our new offices. But then again, we have a national client bank so we also do things by phone or video call.

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You might be worried that you don’t have enough, or be embarrassed by something you’ve done – perhaps your pension or investment has gone down in value. But everybody’s in the same boat.

Don’t worry we’re here to guide you through that.

What does it cost to see a financial adviser?

Those initial conversations and meetings don’t have any cost. If you instruct me to go away and set up an insurance policy, a mortgage or a pension, that’s when you will incur a fee. We have a minimum charge of £350 – so we have to be sure that what we’re doing is worth it for you. We make sure that every client is happy before we get to that point.

We will explain during our initial phone call whether or not it’s the right thing to go forward. Even if we don’t get you this time as a client, we hope that the relationship with us is good enough that you come back to us when you do need us.

We hope that every client stays with us for as long as possible. We try not to do transactional business. We don’t really want someone to come in, set a life insurance policy up and then leave and never come back. I’ve had some clients for 30 years – I’m working with the third generation of some families!

You’re based in Sheffield but can you help somebody if they’re based elsewhere?

The reality is we’re not a Sheffield firm. We are based in Sheffield and the people that work here are local, but we’re a national firm. The real reason we’re in Sheffield is because it’s so fantastic for the motorways. I can be in Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Lincoln or Newcastle within an hour or so.

We have clients in Preston and Lincoln and clients stretch from Cheltenham all the way down to Exeter. We also work in London and on the South Coast – it’s not a geographically focused set of clients.

Sheffield is also a really good city for skilled people. I’ve been able to establish our head office here and fill it with a really good team. We’re still at a size where all of the team knows all of the clients – so it doesn’t really matter who answers the phone.

Tell us a little bit more about Leo Alexander or LAW FM as you’re also known?

I started in this business when I was 20. I was still at university and I went into the largest wealth management firm in the country at the time. They’re now owned by one of the high street banks. While I was working for them, I was headhunted to join a firm of solicitors.

I worked there for 10 years looking after clients who had won very large awards because they’d been injured. I provided holistic investment management and financial advice. Safety was always the main concern with that particular set of clients.

We all reach a stage where we want to set our own businesses up, which I did. It’s now twelve years later and we’ve been pretty successful. We’ve grown from just me to a team of 14.

What I decided early on was to provide the wealth management service to every single client, regardless of their specific situation. We wouldn’t go down the route of charging huge upfront commissions or focus only on people with a certain level of wealth. We would deal with everybody who knocks on the door.

People find us approachable. It doesn’t matter what they ask us and they know we’re going to look after them.

Is there anything else that makes Leo Alexander stand out?

There are a few things that I think make us a bit different. One is that we don’t charge those huge upfront commissions that are known in this industry. Another one is that we don’t recommend things that people can’t get out of. We wouldn’t push somebody into something where there would potentially be a huge exit penalty to leave.

I wouldn’t want anybody to have a life insurance policy that tied them into a series of payments that they couldn’t just stop. With mortgages, we try to make sure that we have an eye on the fact that you might choose to sell your house three years into a five-year deal. I’m very keen on people having control.

People’s lives are very dynamic, and the situation three years earlier is not the situation today. We do pay particular attention to that for every client.

Why Leo Alexander?