I think it is fair to say that in general, there is a far greater awareness of what a Bank can offer than what a Financial Broker can offer.
We are all familiar with the main Irish banks, probably due to a number of factors, their financial ability to run great marketing campaigns, which often grab the public’s imagination, being one major factor (the current AIB one with Kate & Mick finishing their mortgage one such example). We all need to run a bank account and often family loyalty comes into play and our own account is often with the same bank our parents before us used. Banks offer a lot of valuable services with many opting to hold their mortgage account with their bank. Indeed the Irish Independent printed an article this week which stated that as many as 7 out of 10 mortgage holders also take out their mortgage life cover with the bank.
There is less awareness of the broker market. We are more familiar with general insurance brokers and generally we all shop around at renewal time for competitive quotations for our car and house insurance, often contacting general insurance brokers to avail of this service from them.
Financial brokers offering financial advise, also provide an invaluable service should you seek it out and I would urge everyone to do so. Just as there are multiple offerings for car and house insurance there are different plans for pensions, savings and protection. Only the expertise of a financial broker will ensure you are suitably protected and have the rights savings, investments and pension plans.
Let me outline what I feel a financial broker can offer to you.
Processes & Procedures based approach
As a financial broker, we have developed processes (which we continuously review) which start with finding out about you and what your goals are from the short to the long term. We have tools to identify our customers attitude to risk and we have tools to illustrate to you what your financial journey will be. It is difficult to envisage what pension and savings we require and what will actually be sufficient for our retirement needs. We use our software system to illustrate this. We do a full analysis and make our recommendations which we revisit on an annual basis.
Education & Expertise
There are strict educational standards in place, with minimum exam-based qualification required, before a Financial Broker can begin to provide advice. In addition, there are strict Continuous Personal Development (CPD) standards that must be achieved each year, in order to retain their qualifications. In fact in our office our support staff are highly qualified or working toward Qualified Financial Advisor qualification as well as our front line advisors.
Experience & Personal Relationships
Unlike a busy bank branch, we as a financial broker can concentrate on providing personal financial advice all of the time. In our office we are all long standing employees, all of whom have built up long standing, personal relationships with our customers over the years. That personal interaction with the same advisor on a continuous basis is invaluable for our clients. Personal focused interaction with our clients gives us a wealth of expertise in terms of the challenges of personal finance. Solutions arise out of such experience and all our clients can benefit from such expertise and solutions.
As I’ve mentioned above, our first and utmost focus is on making the right recommendations to our clients. Only then will we review the financial plans required to ensure our clients goals are met and they have total peace of mind in being suitably protected, are saving for third level education and so on. However we do stand apart from banks and life assurance companies insofar as we have a total view of the market and we can access all financial plans that we deem suitable for our clients.
This is an opinion only and does not constitute advice as individual circumstances will determine all financial advise given.