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  • FIRST POST
    • 5aday
    • By 5aday 7th Mar 18, 1:21 AM
    • 9Posts
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    5aday
    How do I find an FA/IFA happy with an hourly rate?
    • #1
    • 7th Mar 18, 1:21 AM
    How do I find an FA/IFA happy with an hourly rate? 7th Mar 18 at 1:21 AM
    I have drawn 20 diagrams outlining what I think are typical IHT minimisation and other financial planning moves. For example, one of them shows what I think is a good tax-efficient pension drawdown schedule for my small pension. Am I likely to find an FA prepared to quote a fixed price for spending an hour looking at each sheet, and advising me as to any mistakes?

    Most of the sheets are self-contained and self explanatory, and have one or more notes specifying its aim. If the FA spots a problem, then I would hope for a red-pen annotation of my mistake, or perhaps detail of an omitted restriction or caution. If there was some clearly better method of achieving the same aim as one of the sheets, then I would hope for a reference to that method.

    I am aware that Financial Advisors can offer much more, and accept that this can be extremely valuable, however I have ruled such services out, for at least the remains of this financial year. I am not even expecting a holistic assessment of my situation, just comments on the individual money transfers.

    Hourly rates are mentioned, including at...

    moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/Guide-to-financial-adviser-fees

    However, so far, three local firms have failed to reply to my inquiry. A fourth instantly understood the diagram I showed them, and even said it was correct, but have not yet committed themselves to even providing a quotation for going through the rest. I would therefore interested to know if anybody has purchased or provided such a service, or has any comments as to the feasibility of commissioning or carrying out this type of work. If it is feasible, how do I find somebody prepared to quote?
Page 1
    • Alexland
    • By Alexland 7th Mar 18, 6:54 AM
    • 2,388 Posts
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    Alexland
    • #2
    • 7th Mar 18, 6:54 AM
    • #2
    • 7th Mar 18, 6:54 AM
    I would imagine it will take a lot of searching as their insurance costs are based on the size, complexity and potential liability of the transaction they advise you on.
    • AnotherJoe
    • By AnotherJoe 7th Mar 18, 9:03 AM
    • 9,403 Posts
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    AnotherJoe
    • #3
    • 7th Mar 18, 9:03 AM
    • #3
    • 7th Mar 18, 9:03 AM
    If I was an IFA I'd steer well clear of such a client, for two reasons.

    Liability. If I failed to spot a mistake which is quite likely since I'd be constrained by their diagram rather than starting from scratch, that could be hugely expensive.

    Relevance. Even a seemingly simple change in the law could completely invalidate a diagram. And potentially lead to liability for me not pointing this out to such an extent that made validating thendiagram pointless.

    Job satisfaction / simplicity. . (Ok that's a third but whatever). To take it away from financial, suppose you were an electrician and a client wanted you to wire up their house in a way that wasn't the way anyone else did it nor the way you'd be doing it safely for 20 years, but still potentially followed regulations. Would you really want to get into that ? Especially since any regulation change later might cause all sorts of issues and leave you open to liability issues.

    Oh and fourth, don't take this the wrong way, but I'd be suspecting this was a client that potentially would be an absolute PITA and that if I did make a mistake would delight in holding me liable and taking me to court.

    Aside all that let's say it's one hour per diagram, which seems fair enough to me. And it's 250 a diagram. That's 5k. Is that the sort of fee you were thinking of?
    Last edited by AnotherJoe; 07-03-2018 at 9:21 AM.
    • Aegis
    • By Aegis 7th Mar 18, 9:24 AM
    • 4,894 Posts
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    Aegis
    • #4
    • 7th Mar 18, 9:24 AM
    • #4
    • 7th Mar 18, 9:24 AM
    In my own case, I have no particular issue with hourly fees for the right client (and indeed have done some hourly fee work for a case this year where a client effectively wanted an expert witness report), but I'd be quite wary of getting involved in checking diagrams and strategies in what is presumably a "quick and dirty" look to keep the fees down.

    As AnotherJoe mentions, the fees could very quickly mount up if the job is done properly, so this may not even represent much of a saving.
    I am an Independent Financial Adviser
    Anything I say on the forum is for discussion purposes only and should not be construed as personal financial advice. It is vitally important to do your own research before acting on information gathered from any users on this forum.
    • Malthusian
    • By Malthusian 7th Mar 18, 9:28 AM
    • 4,095 Posts
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    Malthusian
    • #5
    • 7th Mar 18, 9:28 AM
    • #5
    • 7th Mar 18, 9:28 AM
    AnotherJoe has explained very well why nobody wants to touch this.

    For emphasis, there is no such thing as a "self-contained" financial planning question.

    The job of an IFA is to take a holistic view of your finances. No IFA will answer your "self-contained" questions because they don't know what information your sheets are missing. A sheet that apparently contains a correct answer may become completely wrong when you reveal that, oh by the way, you have one million pounds sitting in cash in your wife's name. (Yes, people can and do omit to mention these things.)

    If an IFA says "yes, based on what's on your sheet this pension drawdown schedule is suitable" what you will hear is "you should go ahead and do this". It doesn't matter if you say "Ah, but I only want a self-contained answer based on what's on the sheet", what you will hear is "go ahead and do this". And if it later turns out to be a bad idea, due to information that wasn't on the sheet, the Financial Ombudsman will also take the view that the IFA said "go ahead and do this" without first conducting a proper fact-find, and the IFA will be liable.

    If you post your sheets here some of us will probably be happy to look at them for free and point out any obvious factual or technical errors, although even the more dedicated members might balk at 20. Still, I would suggest posting the one you feel is most important and going from there.
    • Credit-Crunched
    • By Credit-Crunched 7th Mar 18, 11:05 AM
    • 2,097 Posts
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    Credit-Crunched
    • #6
    • 7th Mar 18, 11:05 AM
    • #6
    • 7th Mar 18, 11:05 AM
    Again with the electrician analogy.

    It is akin to self wiring a home, and then asking a NICEIC electrician to come around and sign off with their credentials.

    I see two options for an IFA - either take the case as a whole with a full holistic review and recommendation on ALL the clients information, or walk away.

    Sorry OP
    • 5aday
    • By 5aday 7th Mar 18, 2:44 PM
    • 9 Posts
    • 5 Thanks
    5aday
    • #7
    • 7th Mar 18, 2:44 PM
    • #7
    • 7th Mar 18, 2:44 PM
    Posting the proposal that I am most worried about on MSE, (diagram or description) sounds like an excellent idea. I did not realise until I read it, that I could, for example, consider showing the other people affected by my proposed IHT plan, not only the details, but also some independent views on it. What a brilliant way to check, increase everybody's confidence, and perhaps reveal any "elephants" hiding in the proposal - Thanks Malthusian.

    I have also thanked all the contributors for their most valuable cautions on trying to find an IFA to look at the remainder of the diagrams. I have listed the problems below. both for my benefit and for anybody finding this thread in the future.

    If anybody wants to say anything about whether it is possible for an IFA (or FA) to do a "quick and dirty" check, without liability, and outside IFA rules, or perhaps whether a local Account or Solicitor might be more appropriate to check the rest of the diagrams for an hour, then please come in and say. However, it looks as if any such suggestions would need to take account of...

    1) Insurance costs which can be based on size etc. of each transaction (and I guess could be same as a full-service IFA).

    2) Greater likelihood of mistake, since the IFA would not have prepared the diagram himself, and might require checking techniques which the FA did not like or use.

    3) Liability (which good diagrams could make easy to identify, quantify, and/or prove).

    4) Possible obligations on the IFA to caution when the diagrams (inevitably) become out of date.

    5) Possible reduced IFA job satisfaction.

    6) Indications that the client would be Pain In The !!!!.

    7) It might take an hour to properly check each diagram, (which could make it as expensive as a full-service).

    8) Even the 20 sheets leave out some facts, and therefore create a liability on the IFA to enquire further.

    9) There is no such thing as a self-contained financial planning question.
    • bowlhead99
    • By bowlhead99 7th Mar 18, 4:51 PM
    • 7,830 Posts
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    bowlhead99
    • #8
    • 7th Mar 18, 4:51 PM
    • #8
    • 7th Mar 18, 4:51 PM
    Posting the proposal that I am most worried about on MSE, (diagram or description) sounds like an excellent idea. I did not realise until I read it, that I could, for example, consider showing the other people affected by my proposed IHT plan, not only the details, but also some independent views on it. What a brilliant way to check, increase everybody's confidence, and perhaps reveal any "elephants" hiding in the proposal - Thanks Malthusian.
    Originally posted by 5aday
    From the tone I honestly wasn't sure whether you were being sarcastic here but from the rest of your post it seems like you are genuinely grateful...

    Yes, if you have questions you can try asking them and seeing what replies you get. There are hundreds of posts here on the investments board and the pensions board where posters ask for opinions and pointers so it's worth a try. Doing it twenty different ways may of course test the patience of a saint
    I have also thanked all the contributors for their most valuable cautions on trying to find an IFA to look at the remainder of the diagrams. I have listed the problems below. both for my benefit and for anybody finding this thread in the future.
    Anyone finding the thread could pretty easily read the original post and the replies to it... but fair enough!

    If anybody wants to say anything about whether it is possible for an IFA (or FA) to do a "quick and dirty" check, without liability, and outside IFA rules, or perhaps whether a local Account or Solicitor might be more appropriate to check the rest of the diagrams for an hour, then please come in and say.
    Advice isn't caught as a specific FCA regulated activity under advising on investments or arranging/bringing about deals in investments if it is not in relation to specific investment rights -the merits of buying or selling a particular investment.

    So you could give the generalist advice that joining a pension scheme (but not a specific pension scheme) or buying a particular type of investment for a pension (but not a specific investment) is sensible given certain current tax breaks - without it being investment advice of the sort that the FCA seeks to regulate. However, where your 20 examples relate to leaving an existing pension scheme (which will have a certain set of rights and hold certain investments) or taking drawdown from an existing pension - disposing of the holdings to finance your retirement cashflow -that is in the realms of advising on Investments and can be a regulated activity if someone is selling that service.

    As such, doing a quick and dirty check and consulting on the merits of selling an amount of some investment, without taking any liability for missing some important piece of the puzzle, does not seem like it can be done by a practicing independent financial adviser, as when you later claim you were badly advised, the FSA won't recognise a separate category of "quick/dirty advice" which can be sold to a client without responsibility.

    A tax adviser or accountant who does not advise on investments, and simply gives the advice that "under scenario 5, there would be some income tax to pay on the drawdown and taking the money out of the pension wrapper would expose it to inheritance tax if the estate is large enough" is not caught by FCA regulations in telling you those facts. However if his profession is tax adviser/consultant and he is a member of a recognised professional industry body (as most good ones are) and your question is "in scenario 5, please can you check the maths *and* confirm I have got the position right in respect of every type of tax that could exist for this person using the current tax law and allowances/thresholds" he is still not necessarily going to want to sign off on the advice "yes it's basically fine under your stated assumptions", unless the fee is very large or he has an agreed indemnity cap at a relatively low level for the generalist advice provided.

    Experience will tell him that some clients who said they wanted a limited scope review will actually want more of a review than that, or at least will later claim they did if they take the advice away and implement something sub-optimally some years later when an assumption turns out to differ from reality. The fact is, if a client believes he is smart enough to come up with 20 models that just need a quick sign off, and the client is trying to do things on the cheap and not get end to end advice, the client may not listen very hard when it comes to caveats and limitations because he thinks he knows what he ordered and "the adviser should have known I meant X, it was obvious to me". So, advisers may be reluctant to engage or will put very strict indemnity clauses in their engagement letters.

    If everything is theoretical and you are not in the realms of investment advice because the exact investments or particular pension product is not mentioned, then an accountant could go over your numbers (caveated up the wazzoo). You might find IFAs to be more reticent in providing the service than an accountant, as the IFA's main regulator is the FCA and the FCA have form in telling regulated firms that -paraphrased- they should err on the side of retail customers being idiots who have a very low knowledge level and lack of comprehension. It is difficult to offer innovative and entrepreneurial services to educated customers in that environment.

    I wouldn't look at solicitors for this, as it's not really a set of legal diagrams. The legal aspects are either specifically tax law (see accountants, tax advisors) or its investment planning (see independent financial advisors), with plenty of crossover.

    3) Liability (which good diagrams could make easy to identify, quantify, and/or prove).
    Generally a diagram doesn't make it easy to identify or quantify liability or prove the liability. In your scenario you are just drawing a diagram and saying, does it work? The answer might be yes those two or three things in a diagram work if they exist in a bubble outside the real world interaction with other investment events, laws, regulations or taxes etc that you haven't put on the diagram - but it is not the full picture because there are a hundred other things one might consider. Do you need some, all, or none of those things outside the diagram to be identified, where does it stop?

    4) Possible obligations on the IFA to caution when the diagrams (inevitably) become out of date.
    In an ideal world the IFA could just say, "caveat: this only works with today's law and levels of allowances" and wash his hands of it.

    In the real world the client will say in five years time, "hey why didn't you tell me I couldn't draw down this 20k at age 56, it was common knowledge that the personal pension drawdown age was pretty much guaranteed to start to track ten years behind state pension age and you are closer to this sort of stuff than I am, it was in all the papers after government pledged it, so don't say that potential change couldn't have been reasonably foreseen...". Whether or not that complaint has merit, the client will call in the ombudsman and attract a charge to the advisory firm for the ombudsman investigating even if the claim is without merit, because it's no skin off the client's nose to do so if he thinks he can get some free money.
    5) Possible reduced IFA job satisfaction.
    Some people do like a challenge and something different from the day job. However, others prefer to just get on with the "known quantity" which is their day job. If they depart from their comfort zone they may want paying at higher rates to take on the perhaps frustrating or complex work or additional risk.

    6) Indications that the client would be Pain In The !!!!.
    like it or not, a client that prepares a huge amount of paperwork and then wants you to do a "quick and dirty" review because he's not an expert himself, may turn out to be a bit needy or demanding. Most clients instead get the advisor to produce the advice and demonstrate the scenarios in which it's useful.
    9) There is no such thing as a self-contained financial planning question.
    I wholeheartedly agree.

    When the adviser explains the good points about Scenario 19, the client will inevitably *not* shut it off as a self contained question by saying, "ok I understand that, now please DON'T tell me about any other possible factors or issues that might be relevant if I were to do it".

    Much more likely the client will make it open ended and say, "ok, I understand that, now are there any other possible factors or issues I've not thought of which might be worthy of discussion because there's a chance they might interact with what we just talked about?"
    Last edited by bowlhead99; 07-03-2018 at 4:54 PM.
    • AnotherJoe
    • By AnotherJoe 7th Mar 18, 5:10 PM
    • 9,403 Posts
    • 10,390 Thanks
    AnotherJoe
    • #9
    • 7th Mar 18, 5:10 PM
    • #9
    • 7th Mar 18, 5:10 PM
    Bowlheads nailed it (as usual).

    I'll just add the thought that AFAICS whatever liability statements or disclaimers are made, decisions always seem to err on the side of the client.

    If I was this electrician (sorry, IFA) there's no way I'd want to sign off on someone else's complex wiring diagram (sorry, set of flowcharts) that had been built from scratch without knowledhe of the industry and was well outside the standard set of installation practices I'd built up over the years that stopped me and the client getting electrocuted (sorry, financially penalised).

    Especially because the client was a detail obsessed person who didnt want to pay me to do it the standard way but wanted a cheat sheet to allow them to wire up their own house (sorry, take complex and costly financial decisions) to save money.

    And said client is safe in the knowledge that if they ran a nail through a cable (sorry, did something off spreadsheet that nevertheless adversely affected this one because it wasnt allowed for through oversight or regulation changes) and the financial house burnt down, they could sue electricians (sorry, advisers) posterior off for not considering client might be an idjut with a big hammer and six inch nails.
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