The 5 most important questions to ask when appointing an international financial advisor

Insight | by Forth Capital
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A checklist of the 5 most important questions to ask when appointing an international financial advisor

In light of the shocking revelations published in The Times on Saturday 27 April, relating to international advice firm Brite Advisors Pty Ltd (Brite Australia) which is currently being wound up by the Australian Federal Court, and the ongoing investigation into Brite Advisors USA, Inc. (f/k/a deVere USA, Inc.) by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), we have drawn up a checklist of the most important information to check and the key questions to ask if you’re a British expat looking to engage a reputable, trustworthy, international financial advisor – wherever you are in the world.

1. Can I speak to one of your existing clients in my region?

Speaking with one of the advisor’s existing clients in the country where you’re located will give you an opportunity to ask about the level of service they’ve experienced and the outcomes that the advisor has delivered for them, to determine whether this reflects the advisor’s claims, and meets your expectations.

2. Are you, or have you ever been, UK qualified?

If the advisor is, or has been, UK qualified then, as part of your due diligence, get them to confirm this for you by forwarding copies of their UK Certificates to you.

If the advisor is British, but has never been UK qualified, then this should be regarded as a ‘red flag’.

3. Can I speak to one of your existing clients in the UK?

This will enable you to gauge the quality of their service and client outcomes in a UK context - and in combination with Q1 [above] allow you to determine whether the advisor is capable of providing the right level of cross-border advice and expertise that you require. This is particularly important if/when you decide to repatriate back to the UK.

4. Are you authorised and regulated in the country where I’m located?

Check that the advisor is authorised and regulated in your country of residence (as well as the country you’re moving to if you’re relocating or repatriating) and check their record with those regulators on each of the regulators’ websites.

Research the financial advisor’s qualifications [often to be found on their website or their LinkedIn profile] and make sure that these align with the financial planning and wealth management areas of focus you require. As part of your due diligence ask the advisor to forward copies of their qualification certificates to you.

5. How did you find me?

If the advisor’s approach was the result of referral from a mutual friend or colleague, then this provides you with an ideal opportunity to gauge that individual’s experience and the quality of service they’ve received.

Equally, even if the approach wasn’t from a referral, online networks [such as LinkedIn] provide the opportunity to quickly identify connections you have in common, with a view to similarly asking them if they are a client of the advisor and getting feedback from them.

Beware ‘cold’ calls or approaches which fail to provide a sound explanation of why you’ve been contacted. In most mature financial jurisdictions, ‘cold calling’ is now banned, but in some countries this practice persists.

Research the advisor and their company extensively online.

It’s important to recognise that good people can end up in bad companies and bad people can end up in good companies. Good companies move the bad people on, and good people leave the bad companies.

This makes it all the more important to scrutinise both the individual’s and the company’s profile and background in as much detail as possible, to establish a complete and accurate perspective on both.

And remember, if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is, and if you’re still not 100% sure, ask us.

We’ve been in the international financial advice industry since 2000 and are available in nearly all expat locations, so whatever the scenario, we’re likely to have an understanding of it and be able to provide you with the answers and guidance you need.

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