Rosie Murray-West
AUTHOR Rosie Murray-West| CREATED 14 Jan 2016
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So what exactly is an adviser fact-find?

It’s a little like visiting the doctor, but there’s no stethoscope and you aren’t required to cough.

The initial fact-find performed by a financial adviser is nonetheless a sort of examination. It ensures an adviser knows all about you, your financial health and your plans.

This will include a written questionnaire and probably an interview. It won’t hurt a bit.

“This is one of the most crucial things to do with any client,” says Mark Insley, of Ascot Wealth Management. “It helps us to understand their situation and what they want to get out of an adviser.”

Here’s what may happen.

Now, where did I put that statement?

The more an adviser knows the better. It’s easy to forget bank accounts, old pensions and other assets when you’re in a meeting.

Rowena Griffiths, financial planner from Female Financial Management, says: “I ask clients to prepare for the initial meeting by putting together a statement of their assets and liabilities, income and expenditure.”

It’s also a good idea to think about your goals before sitting down to talk to the adviser.

Now… tell me everything about yourself

In most cases, advisers will ask you to fill in a form. The information required includes details of savings and investments, pensions and life insurance.

They will also want to know about wills and inheritances, and your state of health. They aren’t being nosy – the more you tell them, the better they can advise you.

The name of your first cat, however, won’t be necessary – unless it left you a large sum in its will.

“Preparing a list of current asset and debt balances, and amounts spent for various items gives us a foundation for analysing the individual’s financial planning needs,” explains Ivan Lyons, director of Investment Solutions in Worthing, West Sussex.

It’s nothing like being grilled by Paxman. Honestly

As well as filling in a form, most advisers will talk through your goals and financial position face-to-face. This enables them to assess what the financial regulator calls “soft facts” – understanding your hopes and aspirations. It’s a gentle, two-way process that allows you to decide whether you and the adviser can work well together. This initial session is often free, but do check the pricing before beginning. All good advisers will openly discuss their fees with you.

Let’s do it

If you and the adviser are happy after the fact-finding session, he or she may ask for letters of authority from you to get more detailed information from the providers of your investments and pensions. Then you can begin to make plans. 

If you don’t have a financial adviser and would like to find one in your area, check out our Find an Adviser tool.


Rosie Murray-West

Rosie Murray-West was until recently deputy editor of the Telegraph Money section and before that the newspaper’s Questor Editor. She now writes regularly for a variety of publications including the Telegraph, Times, Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday, Observer and Moneywise magazine, covering all aspects of personal finance, as well as business, property and economics. She was named Financial Freelance Journalist of the Year (runner up) in 2015 by Santander and won the Santander Award for Personal Finance Education in 2011.