If you go to your high street bank you may be greeted by a financial advisor, but they could well be ‘tied’ to recommending and promoting the products of the bank, or a single insurance/investment company to which the bank has an allegiance. We at Mortgage Xperts, however, provide independent mortgage and financial advice. So why do we need independent advisors, and how can customers be sure they are getting a fair deal?
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
The FCA is the independent watchdog that regulates all financial and insurance firms – from the largest multinational bank, to the financial advisor operating as a sole trader. The FCA handbook lays down the rules and guidance to which all regulated advisors must adhere. The rules are freely available on the FCA’s website: www.fca.org.uk. Please note that by clicking on this link you will leave our website and enter a third party website, the content of which our firm has no responsibility for.
How do I know the company I am dealing with is independent?
Independent advisors can select products from the entire available range – this means their recommendations are based solely on their suitability for the customer’s needs. With such a wide array of companies, investments and savings-tools to choose from, the client can be reassured that the advisor will recommend products tailored to their individual circumstances – they can be sure of always receiving personalised advice.
To ensure advice is personalised, your financial advisor will need to collect details about yourself and your circumstances. Remember to be as open and honest as you can because the advisor’s recommendations will be based on the information you provide.
All financial advisors must provide their customers with the relevant disclosure documents, detailing the following: information on services provided by the firm, how the firm is paid for the business it conducts, company complaints procedure, Data Protection and coverage under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). You can ask to see our disclosure documents at any time – simply contact us.
To ensure you do get personal advice your financial adviser will collect certain details about you and your circumstances to enable him to advise you. Remember to be as open and honest as you can, because the adviser’s recommendation will be based on the information you provide.
All financial advisers have to provide their customers with the relevant important disclosure documents, detailing the following: information on services provided by the firm, how the firm is paid for the business it conducts, their complaints procedure, Data Protection and coverage under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). You can ask to see our disclosure documents at any time, simply contact us for these.
What protection do I have?
Your advisor will always endeavour to ensure the products recommended are suitable for you. When the advisor is advising you on regulated products (including investments, insurance and some forms of mortgages) you have the protection of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
If you are unhappy about the advice or service you have received you should firstly contact Mortgage Xperts. This gives us the chance to put things right and/or to provide our version of events. Should you remain dissatisfied you may be entitled to refer your complaint to the FOS (at www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk or by contacting them on 0800 023 4 567), who will investigate the complaint independently and make a ruling. The FOS work with both customers and financial advisors in order to resolve complaints, and when they do have to make a ruling it is binding upon the firm involved. If you wish to register a complaint against Mortgage Xperts, our contact details can be found on the Contact page of the website. A summary of our internal complaints handling procedures for the reasonable and prompt handling of complaints is available on request.
If you submit a complaint to a firm and the firm has been dissolved, or is unable to meet its obligations, you may have recourse to the FSCS. This service is funded by levies on firms that are authorised by the FCA to protect customers where firms have closed or gone into liquidation.
Anything else I should know?
Some financial advisors do give advice on products that are not regulated by the FCA – such as general taxation and some buy-to-let mortgages. Your advisor will explain to you when you are receiving advice on an unregulated product. It is important that you are happy with the advice, as you may not have the added protection of the FOS or FSCS when dealing with some unregulated products.