2013 has been another appalling year for these financial juggernauts that crush everything and anyone in the drive for profits – will anything change in 2014?
From revelations of market rigging to pressure selling of wholly unsuitable investment and insurance products, the charge sheet keeps on lengthening.
From an investment management point of view, one of the banks’ greatest sins has been the wholesale corruption of “advisers”.
People who might once have been good sources of advice on investment management and other financial products have been turned into hucksters desperate to sell, sell, sell by the offer of handsome bonuses for meeting relentless sales targets underlined by the threat of salary cuts if they fail.
While many of the big banks’ customers, sickened by the cynical treatment they have been receiving, are transferring their current accounts to the more ethical smaller building societies, the recent wave of scandals has created a void for those looking for help in planning their long term finances, pensions and the passing on of their wealth to their children.
Tempting as it might seem, going it alone is not to be recommended when it comes to such a vital element of life – one that makes the difference between comfort and poverty in the years to come.
For example, annuities are now a wholly discredited means of providing retirement income. But setting up an alternative, such as income drawdown or phased retirement, should be put in the hands of a competent, unbiased adviser.
When it comes to technical matters such as asset allocation, investment management, risk analysis and optimising inheritance tax efficiency, a qualified independent financial adviser, someone who will supply you with bespoke long term strategies rather than merely sell you products, is the only safe option.
Here at The Whitehall Partnership we are dedicated to understanding to understanding our clients’ current financial situations before determining their appetite and capacity for financial risk.
Only then do we begin drawing up a general strategy to meet their future needs and fulfil their ambitions while focusing on particular areas such as pensions and estate planning.
A core element of our work is protecting our clients from the hidden high costs built in to so many financial products; costs that often wipe out any gains that might accrue in the current low interest rate environment.
An overarching concern is ensuring that our clients enjoy peace of mind in even the most volatile financial and economic climates.
We achieve this by keeping clear of complex investments (which often not even those who sell them understand) while keeping a close eye on costs and drawing up quarterly progress reports that show clients exactly how their investments are performing.
And while financial advisers now have to make their living by charging directly for their services instead of commissions from product suppliers, we are proud that The Whitehall Partnership had been doing just that years before it became mandatory.
That’s an approach you won’t find at any of the big banks – even if they do clean up their act in 2014.
If you want help in reviewing your existing investments or drawing up a safe and workable financial strategy, call The Whitehall Partnership today on 0845 43 49 250 to arrange a preliminary meeting, without cost or commitment, at a time and place of your own choosing.