Established in 2009, Portafina is an FCA-regulated financial adviser with a rating of 4.78 out of 5 on reviews.co.uk. We specialise in pensions and retirement planning, and we currently manage over £½ billion in pension savings for our clients. Every 1 hour and 6 minutes someone in the UK asks Portafina to help them with their pension.
Your pension and the value of financial advice
You might be tempted to manage your pension savings yourself. And the DIY approach can work for some people. But it’s not easy. There’s a lot of admin, portfolio checking and complex financial decisions to make. And if you make a mistake it’s all on your shoulders. There is no protection. This is why so many people enlist the help of a financial adviser, especially when they are making significant and irreversible decisions, such as taking money early from their pot.
£47,706: on average, this is how much more wealth people have when they take financial advice1.
Like all products and services, when it comes to financial advisers there are both good and bad. So, in a moment we will run through:
- What to look out for when choosing a financial adviser
- 5 ways to spot a pension scam
Before that, though, it’s worth tackling what can be one of the biggest barriers people face when it comes to accessing financial advice. And it’s all down to perception…
Is financial advice only suitable for large pensions?
The simple answer is no. While many advisers choose to only help people with larger retirement pots, you could benefit from enlisting the help of a regulated financial adviser, even if your pension is relatively small.
“In our experience, we can start adding value for clients if their pension is worth around £12,000 or more.”
As well as the added protection, less hassle and reduced admin we have already mentioned, using a reputable financial adviser means your pension savings should have the best possible chance to grow. And more growth means more money for you when you need it, whatever the size of your pot.
While no financial adviser can guarantee you pension growth – past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results – how your pension savings are invested matters. That’s why a sound, balanced and proven investment philosophy is one of the key things to look for when choosing a financial adviser.
Choosing a financial adviser: what to look for
As well as checking out an adviser’s investment philosophy, here are five other things to look for when choosing a financial adviser.
Are they FCA regulated?
The bottom line is: if a financial adviser is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority then do not use them. The FCA is the government regulator for the financial services sector in the UK. And their rules represent the bare minimum you should expect from your financial adviser.
Portafina is authorised and regulated by the FCA: company number 754580
What do other people say about the company?
Peer approval is one of the strongest forms of authority there is. And the internet has been a great leveller for consumers. It only takes a few clicks to see if a company’s claims are matched by real-life experiences. So, when choosing a financial adviser, have a look around to see what other people have made of the service they are offering.
Portafina has a rating of 4.78 out of 5 on reviews.co.uk
Have they won any awards?
Like all products and services, industry or media awards are another good way to check and validate the claims of any financial advisers you are thinking of using. If the company has won an award or two, it’s likely they are doing something right.
Will you have to pay a fee upfront?
While there is a cost to receiving financial advice, some advisers will charge a proportion, or all of this fee upfront. So, even if their advice is to not make a change to your pension, you could end up paying money despite nothing changing. And that can be galling. It’s worth looking for an adviser that will check your pension with no obligation. This is the service we offer at Portafina.
Our initial investigation into your pension is free. And in many cases we can continue to provide full advice with no obligation. This means you can find out exactly what we think you should do with your pension, and how much it would cost if our advice is to make a change and you ask us to act on this advice. You can then choose to take the next step or walk away, fully informed and with nothing to pay.
New FCA regulations mean that not everyone can benefit from full advice with no obligation. If this applies to you, your financial adviser should let you know in writing, clearly stating how much it would cost to take the next step. So, you still shouldn’t have to pay a fee upfront to find out the options you have.
With Portafina our initial investigation into your pension is free. And in many cases we can continue to provide full advice with no obligation.
Are they using plain English?
Are you looking for a financial adviser to take care of everything for you, or to lift the bonnet and talk you through the complexities of pensions?
If you are interested in how it all works then a good, reputable financial adviser will take the time to talk you through what you want to know. But if they are using technical and complicated language upfront, you’ve got to question how much they really understand and empathise with the needs of their clients. Keeping it simple with plain English should be a given when it comes to choosing the right financial adviser for you.
At Portafina we love plain English.
5 ways to spot a pension scam
The simplest way to make sure your pension is in the best possible hands is to only use an FCA-regulated financial adviser. You can check this by visiting the FCA website and typing in the company name. If they do not come up as authorised, then don’t use them. There are also five other tell-tale signs that an organisation or individual might be trying to pension scam you.
Are they promising guaranteed returns?
If someone is trying to get you to switch your pension with the promise of guaranteed returns on your pension investments then steer well clear. It’s a false promise.
Are they claiming you can access your pension before you turn 55?
In almost all cases you cannot access your pension savings until you turn 55. There are limited exceptions to this. See Pension Wise: Can I cash in my pension before 55? for more information.
What kind of phrases are they using?
Scammers will often use persuasive language that may feel attractive at first glance but has no substance. If you are thinking of contacting a company that uses any of the following phrases, please think again:
- Pension liberation
- Pension cashback
- One-off investment
- Limited time offer
Are you being pressured?
A genuine financial adviser will give you all the time you need to make a decision. If you are being pressured into making a quick decision about your pension then it could well be a scam.
Have you been cold called?
As of January 2019 it is illegal for a company to cold call you about your pension. So, if a company phones you about your pension out of the blue then simply hang up.
At Portafina, we will only phone someone if they are a client or they have asked for more information about the services we offer.