The value of professional advice isn't just financial

In an era of instant information and digital connectivity, obtaining financial advice has become more accessible than ever. However, it's important to consider the reliability of your sources, particularly on the internet and from individuals lacking the necessary qualifications and expertise to provide advice. Research by the Financial Service Compensation Scheme (FSCS) revealed that 22% of individuals seek advice from friends, family, or colleagues, 31% turn to online forums or tools, and 9% rely on advice from Social Media Influencers. 

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While the internet offers a plethora of sources for managing finances, the crucial question remains: is it trustworthy? The easy spread of information on social media and the internet has created a risky environment with unregulated content directing financial decisions. Without regulatory oversight, misleading or inaccurate advice can quickly circulate, posing a potential threat to unsuspecting investors.

Additionally, while seeking advice from close relationships can create a comfortable space for discussing financial matters, it's key to exercise caution. The existing trust and comfort within such relationships may foster a sense of security, but it's equally important to evaluate the individual's expertise. Just as you wouldn't turn to your electrician for medical advice, the same principle should apply to decisions impacting your financial well-being. 

The FSCS study further delved into the reasons individuals hesitated to enlist the services of a regulated financial advisor, revealing intriguing insight. Specifically, 23% believed the value of their savings and investments fell short of the amount needed, and 38% expressed concerns about associated costs and value for money. These findings highlight a significant gap in understanding regarding the financial and emotional benefits derived from seeking professional financial advice, contributing to the emergence of the Advice Gap. 

The Advice Gap

In the United Kingdom, the Advice Gap refers to a staggering 39 million adults who currently abstain from seeking any form of professional financial advice. Research conducted by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in 2022 sheds light on this issue, revealing that a 60% of individuals with £10,000 or more of investable assets do not consider financial advice, due to the perception that they wouldn't benefit from it. Further insights from the FSCS investigation, revealed interesting thresholds for considering financial advice worthwhile. 13% of respondents believed that a minimum of £100,000 in funds was necessary, while 21% admitted they were uncertain about the financial threshold. This reveals a substantial segment of the population, hesitant to seek advice due to uncertainty about the potential benefits awaiting them.

The real value of Professional Guidance

A study conducted in 2019 by the International Longevity Centre (ILC) in the UK, illuminates the financial impact of seeking professional advice. The research uncovered that those individuals who sought financial guidance during the period from 2001 to 2006, experienced a total wealth boost of £47,706 in their assets over the following decade, compared to those who navigated the financial landscape independently. While the estimated average cost of a one-off independent financial consultation may be approximately £2,000, the benefits accrued over a 10-year period exceed this cost by an impressive 24 times, resulting in a net gain of £4,570 per year. This emphasises that investment in financial advice is essentially an investment in securing a more resilient and prosperous financial future.

The study goes beyond highlighting the importance of a single consultation; it emphasises the significant impact of continuous advice. Individuals who sought financial guidance more than once over the decade, experienced a remarkable 61% improvement in overall financial well-being compared to those who sought advice only once. Achieving financial well-being is not a destination, but a journey. It involves adapting to changing circumstances, making informed decisions, and staying proactive in financial planning. The study's findings highlight the importance of having a trusted advisor who can provide ongoing support, helping individuals navigate the complexities of the financial landscape.

The FSCS study brought to light a common scepticism regarding the minimum asset requirement for benefiting from financial advice. Contrary to the notion that financial advice primarily caters to those with high net worth, the ILC study, mentioned above, demonstrated that individuals who consider themselves in the "just getting by" category experienced a more substantial financial enhancement compared to their wealthier counterparts. For instance, while the affluent group saw an 11% increase in pension wealth, the "just getting by" group experienced an impressive 24% boost in pension income. The key takeaway is quite evident; irrespective of your income level, seeking financial advice can indeed exert a meaningful influence on your financial well-being.

Emotional value of advice

In reference to the ILC study, a whopping 88% of people who have taken advice think it’s good value for money. However, the worth of advice extends beyond financial gains. Amidst the backdrop of market volatility and continuing uncertainty in the political and economic spheres over the past year, it’s good to see that the emotional benefits of advice plays an important role.

A study conducted by Royal London delves into the emotional well-being advantages of seeking advice, revealing that it can offer more than just financial perks. The top three cited benefits include:

  1. Enhanced confidence in financial plans and the future.
  2. Heightened control over one's finances.
  3. Peace of mind and sense of preparedness to navigate life's unforeseen challenges.

Moreover, individuals reported being less anxious about their financial preparedness for retirement, highlighting the emotional impact that sound advice can have at various stages of life.

In conclusion, the studies provided by the FSCS, FCA, ILC and Royal London, paint a compelling picture of the misconceptions around financial advice and the hidden value both for financial and emotional well-being in seeking professional guidance. If you've found yourself questioning the relevance of financial advice in your life, this body of research strongly indicates that taking professional guidance could be a crucial step toward unlocking a more prosperous financial future. So don’t just take our word for it, the research speaks for itself.

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This article is intended for general information only, it does not constitute individual advice and should not be used to inform financial decisions.

Investment returns are not guaranteed, and you may get back less than you originally invested. Past performance is not a guide to future returns.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) does not regulate cash flow planning or tax advice.