SOLLA Financial Adviser
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SOLLA Financial Adviser
Michelle Boakes explains what a SOLLA financial adviser does and how they can help you.
What is a SOLLA financial adviser?
A SOLLA financial adviser is a qualified and regulated financial adviser who specialises in later life advice. That includes long-term care planning and equity release. It means the adviser has been accredited by the Society of Later Life Advisers.
The accreditation process is a thorough vetting of the adviser’s knowledge and understanding of how different issues can affect clients and their families at that later stage of life.
How can a SOLLA financial adviser help with my mortgage or financial advice?
We can help in exactly the same way as all other financial advisers – we can arrange your finances to help you meet your goals and objectives. But by being a SOLLA financial adviser, we’re demonstrating a commitment to understanding the wider issues around older people’s needs.
An example might be how health issues can affect our advice process; how the care journey works in practice and how we can ensure you get what you’re entitled to.
So we can do exactly the same job, it’s just that we have committed to understanding non-financial things that will be affecting you as a client.
What qualifications or certifications does a SOLLA financial adviser have?
Your SOLLA financial adviser will have at least a diploma in regulated financial advice. Any financial adviser in the UK must have that diploma level qualification. A SOLLA accredited financial adviser will either have a long-term care qualification as well, or an equity release qualification.
They will also be an accredited member of SOLLA as well. You’ll be able to find their details on the SOLLA website.
How can I find a trustworthy SOLLA financial adviser in the UK?
Go onto the Society of Later Life Advisers website and search for an adviser that’s local to you.
The process of accreditation with SOLLA is that they vet our technical knowledge and understanding of financial advice elements. But they’re also checking whether we as advisers have the soft skills needed to give someone advice when they are potentially in a more vulnerable position.
I’m really confident that everybody on the SOLLA register is a trustworthy adviser in the UK.
What should I consider when choosing a SOLLA financial adviser for mortgage or financial advice?
When you’re considering your needs for financial advice, the first thing to do is check they meet your requirements. For example, do you need or want to meet face-to face or would a virtual meeting work best for you? Does the adviser provide that level of service?
Check whether the adviser is able to offer advice on all the areas that you need. If you’re looking at funding long-term care, you should be seeing an adviser with a long-term care qualification. Otherwise, the adviser is not going to be able to give you an all-round overview of everything you need to consider.
If you’re thinking you might want equity release advice, the adviser must hold an equity release qualification. Once you’ve met the adviser, you’ll be able to decide if they have the right skills to help you.
More important, though, is whether you like them, you can trust them and you work well together. Financial advice is a long journey and it really helps to have a good working relationship with your adviser. They should be someone you can tell almost anything to.
What types of products can a SOLLA financial adviser recommend?
All financial advisers are different in terms of whose products and services they offer. I personally can recommend both long-term care plans and equity release as well as the traditional financial advice products like pensions and investments.
Other advisers may only offer equity release or they may only deal in long-term care. We’re all different.
How does a SOLLA financial adviser assess my financial situation to provide tailored advice?
For most financial advice appointments you first make initial contact with the financial adviser to see if you’re a good fit. They’ll then schedule an initial appointment for you, which is really a fact finding exercise.
We’re getting to know you and your circumstances and what you’re wanting to achieve. You’re also getting to know us and whether we are the right people for you. It’s really important that we understand your current situation as thoroughly as possible.
We can then take that information away, research all the options and come up with a plan to help you move forward. Once you’re happy with the plan we’ll make some recommendations for you to achieve those objectives.
We like to keep on top of it, as well. Once any new plans have been set up we will be continuously monitoring them to make sure that you’re on track to get where you want to go. We make changes where necessary as well.
What information should I have ready when meeting with a SOLLA financial adviser?
It’s a really good idea to have details of existing plans or policies you’d like to talk about. Have your income and expenditure details to hand. But if you don’t have any of these, don’t worry, we can gather this at a later stage.
You might prefer to focus on questions about how we can help you and geting any concerns off your chest, rather than discussing your budget plan. If you don’t have the information about plans or policies we can contact providers on your behalf too. So although these are good things to have if you can, it’s not essential.
I think it’s more important that you have a list of questions to answer. We go through so much information during the meeting that it’s easy to forget things. Sometimes the first appointment can be lengthy and you forget what you wanted to ask – so write them down beforehand.
Also, do let us know in advance if you have any additional needs that we can support you with. Should we hold meetings at a certain time of the day? Do they need to be shorter for you? Let us know if you’re concerned about any mobility requirements or if you have impaired hearing. All of those things will really help us to make sure that we’re supporting you in the best way possible.
How does a SOLLA financial adviser compare different mortgage options?
All of us are different in terms of whose products we can offer. On equity release mortgages, the providers I work with are representative of the whole market. Other advisers out there only offer products from one or two providers, or just one.
How we can help you
No matter what stage in life you’re at, our expertise will help guide you along the way. We’ll take the time to understand you, your aspirations in life and what you want to achieve in the short, medium and long term. Our team of experts are on hand to help people all over Wiltshire and the surrounding areas, from our Salisbury office.
We want to give you peace of mind, knowing that no matter what happens, you’ll enjoy a financially secure future.
How can a SOLLA financial adviser help me understand the costs and fees associated with a mortgage?
We will go through in detail something called an illustration. This illustration is usually given to us by the mortgage provider. It breaks down everything you need to know about your mortgage in quite a lot of detail.
Our job is to explain everything in that illustration, particularly around how interest payments and monthly payments will work; the possible consequences of interest rate rises, and all of those things before you make a decision.
That way you’re fully informed about the advantages and disadvantages of the action you’re about to take. We get to know you really well during the initial meetings, which helps us ensure that we’re explaining the illustration in a way that is clear and not misleading for you.
We avoid using jargon – our job is to make sure that you completely understand the advice that we’re giving you and why it could be the right way forward for you.
Can a SOLLA financial adviser help me with the paperwork and documentation required for a mortgage application?
Yes – that’s another part of our job too. Once we’ve recommended the right mortgage for you we help you fill in the application forms. We’ll provide any documents to the provider and tell you what we need to give them. We can liaise with solicitors and cover you all the way through.
How can a SOLLA financial adviser help me find the most suitable mortgage deal for my circumstances?
We’re going to be asking you about your current circumstances so that we fully understand your eligibility for the mortgages available. Each mortgage provider has their own criteria and it’s part of our job to make sure you fit their requirements for the mortgage we’re applying for.
We’ll ask you about your preferences and requirements. As an example, if you’re thinking equity release might be the right thing for you, but you also have a real concern about leaving an inheritance to your family, we can help you find a mortgage that supports these preferences.
If, for example, I find a cheaper interest rate that doesn’t support that preference, I will talk you through the details of the lower cost option versus the option with your preferences included. Then you can make a fully informed decision about what you want to do. We’re here to get you the most suitable product for your circumstances.
How does a SOLLA financial adviser help me plan for potential changes in interest rates?
In the illustration, we’ll look at that in detail. One of the things that I’m passionate about is cash flow modelling – that’s just a piece of technology that allows me to see your finances both now and into the future. I can use it to apply different changes.
For example, I can input different interest rate charges to see how that’s going to affect your finances in the future. That will help us both identify any potential risks, but it also helps me identify opportunities in the future too.
How long does the mortgage advice process typically take with a SOLLA financial adviser?
It very much depends on your personal circumstances. The process of getting a mortgage in place for somebody who’s buying a house is longer than for someone taking some equity out of their existing home.
For the initial appointment, I always allow an hour, followed by a week up to ten days to do some research. If we decide to go ahead with a mortgage application it can take around 15 to 20 working days to get approval . At the end of that process you’ll be issued with something called the mortgage offer – but the legal process can take quite a bit longer.
When you take out a mortgage, a solicitor is always involved to make sure you’re entering into an agreement that’s sound for you. They also represent the lender to make sure you’re adhering to the terms and conditions. The quickest turnaround I have ever experienced on equity release was five weeks from an application to the client receiving the money.
Can a SOLLA financial adviser also assist with remortgaging or switching mortgage providers?
Yes – in exactly the same way as we would if you were taking out your first mortgage or the first equity release deal. We would do exactly the same things.
What ongoing support or services can a SOLLA financial adviser provide once I have secured a mortgage?
We offer ongoing advice services. You can choose to be part of this, or not if you don’t think it will be of benefit to you. If you’ve secured an equity release mortgage we will contact you periodically to make sure everything’s working as you expected it to, and see if you need to make any changes.
But if we’re supporting you with your wider financial planning, we’ll likely want to meet you at least once a year to make sure your plans are still on track and identify any changes that need to be made.
How do I know if a SOLLA financial adviser is regulated and authorised to provide advice?
Use the FCA register – the FCA is our regulator in the UK. They’ve got a very clear, easy to use register where you just put in the name of the firm and maybe the postcode or the area that you’re looking in. It will come up with a list – if the adviser that you’re looking to use is on there, they are regulated.
You can also check the SOLLA website to make sure the person is SOLLA qualified.
The value of investments and any income from them can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the original amount invested.