Taking financial help
Need help to get your finances in order?
Achieving the future you want doesn’t happen by accident. You can start planning and taking control of your money at any time. Talking to a professional can help.
Not sure how to go about tackling your finances? Achieving the future you want doesn’t happen by accident. You can start planning and taking control of your money at any time - it’s never too late. Talking to a professional can help.
It's a good idea to spend some time thinking about what you want to achieve. This might be something relatively straightforward, such as arranging a mortgage. Or, your financial goals may be broader, for example putting an investment plan in place to give you a good retirement income in 30 years' time or starting a pension.
Whatever your needs, start getting together any relevant information, such as your income, regular outgoings and details of any financial products you already have. This will help with the discussion you have.
Ask questions - so you get everything explained, from details of the products, to the potential outcome if you decide on a different approach.
At Standard Life Direct, we want all our customers to feel confident about their future wealth and wellbeing. So we’re flexible. We offer products, services and solutions that meet real people’s needs – and evolve as these needs change in the future.
Financial planning and advice
Standard Life Direct’s qualified experts are here to help; we provide guidance to help you decide what’s best for your future. Our experts can provide relevant, straightforward information and this is available online and over the phone. If you have more complex advice needs, such as portfolio management or retirement solutions using income drawdown, we can help with that too.
Once you’ve decided what you want to do, we’ll help with the paperwork, get you started and be here for you for the future. Our service takes account of your key financial goals and how best to reach these goals.
When you call Standard Life Direct
You’ll get through directly to our experts. We don't have automated menus and our call centres are based in the UK.
We offer a wide choice of financial products. We don't just offer products from Standard Life. We have a range of selected providers, giving flexibility, freedom and investment choice.
Before investing in any financial product you need to be aware of the risks and commitments involved and that's where we can help.
98% of our customers are very or extremely satisfied with the people they spoke to. Source: Standard Life service tick customer survey year to date 9 March 2011.
You can call Standard Life Direct on 0845 272 8810. Calls may be monitored and/or recorded to protect you and us and help with our training. Call charges will vary.
Standard Life Direct is provided by Standard Life Client Management Limited and only advises on and sells products from subsidiaries of Standard Life plc and some external providers.
Word of mouth is a good way to find any professional.
Professional advice website unbiased.co.uk has a free and confidential 'Find an IFA' tool that enables you to search for an IFA in your area. It allows you to specify details such as areas of advice and qualifications.
Shop around. Contact at least three IFAs and compare what they can offer.
How financial advice has changed
On 31 December 2012, new rules came into force around the way you receive financial advice on investment products, such as pensions and ISAs.
Advisers have been preparing for the new regulations over the past few years. The rules were introduced by what was then the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to ensure consumers fully understand the charges and process for receiving financial advice. There are three main changes: more transparent charges, higher qualifications for advisers and clearer distinctions between different types of advice.
Categories of adviser
Advisers can be put into two categories depending on the nature of the advice they provide: independent or restricted.
To be independent, your adviser needs to offer advice on all the financial products available in the market, without any restrictions or bias towards a particular product or provider.
A restricted adviser focuses their advice on a specific range of products. This may be because they specialise in an area, for instance pensions, or because they work with a select number of product providers.
Importantly, whether an adviser is independent or restricted, they need to tell you, and explain any restrictions, before they provide you with any recommendations. This makes it easy for you to see what type of advice you will receive and whether it will be suitable for you.
How you pay for advice
Under the new rules, your adviser must explain how much their advice will cost and agree these charges with you before they carry out any work for you.
The way you pay for advice has also changed. Rather than paying commission, you will either pay a fee for the advice you receive or you can agree to have the cost of the advice taken from your investments. It's up to you and your adviser to decide which method suits you best.
The rule change doesn't affect the existing commission that your adviser received on products bought before 31 December 2012. But, if you require advice on these products, your adviser cannot receive any new commission and they'll need to agree a charge with you for that service.
All financial advisers are required to hold a minimum qualification, although some may want to invest in further qualifications. The minimum qualification level is level four of the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), which is equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate degree. There are many different recognised qualifications at this level, covering a broad range of advice areas, including investments and investment risk, pension regulation and tax.
Financial advisers are also required to spend at least 35 hours per year studying as part of their continuing professional development. They are also required to sign up to the Financial Service Authority’s code of ethics.
Regular reviews are essential to ensure your financial plan stays on track, especially when so many things can change in your life. An annual review is usually sufficient but, if something significant happens, such as you get married, start a family, buy a new house or inherit some money, then you should meet with your adviser to make sure your plan still fits your needs.
Your adviser, or your product provider, will also send you an annual statement outlining how your financial products are performing. This will help you assess your plans, and stay on target to achieve your financial goals.