Sam Kelly DipPFS, EFA, BA (Hons)
Managing Partner Chorus Financial
I always find it interesting how whilst I’ve spent the last 5 or so years writing articles about how to ensure value, honesty, transparency and quality for your pensions and investments, the main focus of other firms here in Spain seem to be their size and how long they’ve been around.
Of course, I agree that longevity is important, and myself and Senior Partner Tracy Storer have accumulated around 13 years in Spain, and well over 20 in the industry between us. In fact, from an advisor perspective we’re amongst the longest serving here in Spain.
Surprisingly, the vast majority of financial advisors barely last a year in Spain. Much of this is down to the fact that they have been recruited based on sales experience, or perhaps a couple of years working behind the counter in a bank, and often lack any form of qualification or investment advice experience. So, a company that’s been around for 20 years may have seen hundreds of IFAs come and go during that period.
Moving on to size. The vast majority of UK IFAs work from small, independent offices, with perhaps 2-3 advisors in the company. Those advisors provide high quality, independent advice, and have access to the largest, and most successful investment companies in the world. They are generally not tied to any one provider, and can therefore act in their client’s best interests, and maintain independence at all times.
What we see from the larger firms in Spain is quite the opposite. We see ‘special’ relationships in place with selected fund managers who financially incentivise these firms to recommend their funds.
What this means in real terms is that the IFA is not going to the open market to select the best investment funds for your Spanish Compliant Bond, QROPs or International SIPP. More often, their head offices are dictating where they should invest client funds, and these decisions can be more focussed on the financial benefit of the firm, rather than the client.
What we should see is a symbiotic relationship. This is one where you agree a transparent form of renumeration for your advisor, and your advisor uses their experience (and qualification) to find the best solution for your needs from an open marketplace. Logically this is the ONLY way to ensure quality, as statistically it is almost impossible to think that a firm tied to one or two fund houses have the best performing, most appropriate solutions from the hundreds available in the open market.
Chorus clients benefit from access to leading fund managers, including Royal London, Prudential, Vanguard, Rathbones, HSBC, Fundsmith, Schroders and more, with an honest and transparent fee arrangement. We would generally see between 12-16 different investment funds in a typical portfolio, ensuring appropriate diversification.
Ironically this means that the ‘smaller’ firm arguably provides the ‘larger’, and more robust solution.
Financial services is all too often ruled by slick marketing over decent honest advice, and Spain is particularly notorious for this. Always get a second opinion before making a decision that could affect your financial wellbeing for the rest of your life.
So, if you’re considering a new or existing arrangement, or wish to discuss a proposed pension transfer or Spanish Compliant Bond (for example Prudential International or Quilter international), please contact me on 664 398 702 or firstname.lastname@example.org