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Financial Advice

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Assess and Evaluate Online Financial Advice

Financial advice is freely available on the World Wide Web, though the quality of the advice varies considerably. Some of the best financial advice is very good, whilst some of the worst could seriously damage your financial standing.

The purpose of this little ieke money and finance article is to help you assess the financial advice you may come across in your journeying around the web and to suggest some good practices for testing for yourself and deciding for yourself whether the financial advice is reliable.

A first stop for straightforward, honest financial advice could be your own government. Some of the most reliable financial advice online is provided by the government both online and offline in the form of financial advice pages, information booklets, and leaflets. Local and national government often allocate budgets for the education and safeguarding of citizens which can, and should, include financial advice. The financial advice from government websites is often addressed towards rules and regulations for financial compliance, including tax considerations, of course.

In the United Kingdom for example the FSA, The Financial Services Authority, is the governments regulator of all providers of financial services in the UK. They have an online section entitled Consumer Information: Consumer Contact, Complaints, Scams and Swindles, and more. In the United States of America there is the SEC, The Securities and Exchange Commission which has online section titled Check out Brokers and Advisers, People or firms that get paid to give advice about investing.... and more. These are of course, just examples and you can find more of your own government’s financial advice online.

Other sources of financial advice that are readily available online are the many and varied money comparison sites. These can be very useful to assess how others are faring with certain financial products and finance companies. Check out the most active finance forums for an insight into whether people have had problems with a product or a company that you are considering dealing with. It can be very enlightening to see the online forum discussions about things that have gone wrong and how the companies have dealt with customer problems and complaints.

Paid Financial Advice is also available for certain money products and you will need to be made fully aware of the contract between you and the advice provider. The fee for financial advice can be fixed or on a percentage basis. Most countries regulate this and you will have the protection of this regulatory framework, should your own government have established this.

Payment for financial advice can sometimes take the form of commission on a financial product that is recommended to you and that you subsequently buy. Examples are endowment policies, pensions, and mortgages. In the event that the advisor earns commission in this way it should be explicit, and must be fully disclosed to you, and will form part of the contract.

Another consideration is whether you will get value for money from that paid financial advice. It may be possible to negotiate the commission you are paying, even on standard or “out of the box” financial products. Remember it doesn’t hurt to ask, and you should ask - it could save you a considerable amount of money.

With this brief overview of the financial advice you might encounter online I hope I have given you some pointers to where you can find advice with a high trust factor, and make you more aware of the financial advice resources that are readily available.

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