What is your record as a firm of Chartered Financial Planners?
Prospective clients occasionally ask us about our record as a firm of Chartered Financial Planners.
It’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask; after all, if you’re considering entrusting your financial life to a company you know relatively little about, you should carry out plenty of due diligence first before engaging as a client.
Our track record at Informed Choice dates back to 1994 when the business was formed by our founders Nick and Andrea Bamford.
As the business grew in its early years, we were an Appointed Represenative of a larger firm in central London, before applying for direct authorisation with the regulator – at the time the Personal Investment Authority (PIA), which became the Financial Services Authority (FSA), which became the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)!
Informed Choice has grown steadily ever since.
We’ve been profitable in every single year since our formation in 1994 and have never had any debt. These factors are important to us, as we subscribe to the philosophy that a poor financial planner is a poor financial planner.
Our business has received numerous awards during the past 25 years, including the prestigious IFA of the Year at the Money Marketing Financial Services Awards, several Gold Standard Awards and, most recently, Company of the Year at the Toast of Surrey Awards.
The directors at Informed Choice are frequently quoted in the national press, including appearances on BBC Radio 4’s Moneybox and several television programmes. This year to date, personal finance journalists have sought our expert commentary on more than 200 occasions.
We differ from some other firms in that we adopt a team approach when it comes to the construction and delivery of financial planning and advice.
This means that you work with your Financial Planner, and behind the scenes a team of administrators and paraplanners are gathering information, analysing plans and formulating advice ready for delivery.
It also means that all advice we produce for our clients is carefully reviewed for suitability before it is delivered to our clients; in our view, checking files for suitability after the advice has been delivered is a check too late.
Here at Informed Choice we are passionate about high professional standards.
We became the 99th firm of Chartered Financial Planners in the country in 2007, and individuals within our team strive to obtain the highest professional standards.
Within the team we have a total of seven Chartered Financial Planners, including two who hold the international Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation and a further two who are Fellows of the Personal Finance Society.
Our investment advice process is well established and thoroughly tested through the full market cycle.
We have a great deal of in-house investment expertise and experience, chaired by a published investment author, and we supplement this expertise with third-party specialist research.
Our investment models are independently benchmarked against our peers on a monthly basis, so we can understand our performance in terms of risk and return. We are always happy to share these performance reports for different risk levels.
We might not be as large as some financial planning firms, although the average firm size in our profession is that of a sole trader.
With a team of 14 individuals across two office locations, we’re no longer a small firm, but we have retained the personal touch and make a point of every team member knowing every client.
As you make a decision to engage with Informed Choice or any other firm of Chartered Financial Planners, there are some simple due diligence checks you should consider making.
Check the Financial Services Register, which is maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority, to confirm the authorised and regulated status of the firm. You can find us under reference 171077.
Check with Companies House to make sure the firm is incorporated and up to date with its annual returns and accounts. Our company registration number is 02947466.
Download the latest company accounts from Companies House; make sure the firm you are considering is solvent.
Ask to see a current Statement of Professional Standing (SPS) for the individual you are dealing with.
Our Financial Planners all display their SPS on their website profile pages. Each SPS at Informed Choice is issued by the Chartered Insurance Institute.
Visit the office location, rather than simply relying on what could be a serviced office address on their corresponce. You can find Informed Choice at Sundial House in Cranleigh or Holders Barn in Petersfield.
Do a Google search for the company and for the individual Financial Planner, to make sure nothing unsavoury about them comes up.
Before you engage with a firm of Chartered Financial Planners, run these basic checks so you can be sure you are comfortable with your decision.
We will always answer any questions you need to ask to feel comfortable and indeed welcome these questions from prospective and existing clients.