Getting help from a local financial adviser or financial planner

Local Financial Planner

As this guide has shown, protection is a broad term that embraces everything from temporary life cover to meeting long term care costs.

Within each category of protection there are often many competing products, each with different mix of benefit and cost. This is not an area where a few minutes spent on the internet will yield an obvious right answer.

On the other hand, some time spent with a financial adviser can be a major help:

- An adviser will be able to assess your needs on a holistic basis. They will already be familiar with the framework of state benefits and will know the questions to ask about other cover you may have, e.g. from your employer. If your adviser also handles your retirement and investment planning, there may be an opportunity to integrate these into your protection arrangements.

- Your adviser can help you set your protection priorities, talking you through the options. For instance, if affordability is a factor, they can suggest how a core level of protection could be structured.

- Your adviser will know the protection market and the companies operating in it. This involves much more than being able to compare standard premium rates:

           - In many areas of protection, good administration is a necessity: the last thing you want when a claim is being made are delays and protracted conversations with script-driven call centres.

           - Standard rates only apply to standard situations. If you have a chronic medical condition, a penchant for hang-gliding or a high-risk employment, standard rates may well not apply.

- You can discuss matters with your adviser in confidence. That sounding board can be important when you want an informed, objective view of your protection requirements.

- Tax will have a bearing on how some of your protection is arranged. A good example is that ideally the proceeds of any life assurance policy should not form part of your estate for inheritance tax purposes. Your adviser can recommend an appropriate mechanism – usually a trust – to achieve this.

- It often makes sense for policies to be arranged under a trust. This can ensure that the right people will receive the benefits and that they are paid out as quickly as possible. Trusts can also have tax advantages. Your adviser will know when a trust is appropriate and how best to set it up.

- The process of regular review is much easier with an adviser. You can look to them to initiate the process – which will make it more difficult for you to ignore or file in the ‘next month’ category. Your adviser will also be aware of relevant developments, whether they are tax changes, revised social security legislation or improvements to contract terms or premium rates.

Perhaps the most important fact is that your adviser is a professional: they are trained to give financial advice and authorised to do so by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). Putting in place the right protection for you and your family is not a job to leave to amateurs.