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    My Pension: Is there a difference between guidance and advice?

    Many of us delay looking into or monitoring our pensions because we just don’t really understand how it all fits together. The world of pensions can be a pretty complex place to be – even for those with an insight into what is going on. If you struggle with the calculations it can all seem a like a jumble of unrelated figures, percentages, promises and maybes. The world of investment is full of great benefits and risks. Clearly there is a need for some form of guidance or advice. But where do you go for trustworthy help and is there a difference between the two?

    You can get free guidance now

    In the financial world there is a marked difference between guidance and advice. In the majority of cases, only guidance tends to be free. Why is this and in what way does advice and guidance differ? Well, a financial guide can walk you through the options that are open to you and introduce you to the positives and negatives of various choices. This can be very useful as it can set you on the right road. The free guidance guarantee was introduced by the UK government in 2015 to help people save safely in their retirement years. You can access free guidance via such websites as Pension Wise, the Pensions Advisory Service and the Citizens Advice Bureau.

    However, this guidance – as good as it is – is not the same as professional financial advice. As much as an expert guide can tell you what is available on the market, they will not be in a position to relate it to your own financial situation. They can give you the options which you can then take to a financial adviser.

    What should you expect from a professional adviser?

    A financial adviser will take on board your specific financial circumstances and retirement aspirations and relate it to what is available to you. This advice then is tailored especially, and uniquely to you. He or she will walk you through benefits and risks from any options you decide to take. The final decision is always yours. Depending on the type of pension you have, an adviser may be able to offer you full advice with no obligation. This means they will let you know exactly what they think you should do with your pension without you having to pay a fee. They would also let you know what it would cost to follow that advice. You would then have the choice: pay the fee to carry out the work or walk away, better informed and with nothing to pay.

    Where to find a trustworthy adviser?

    There are a lot of financial advisers out there. This may sound beneficial but this can make the landscape more confusing than you perhaps need. The key is finding a financial adviser who is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Nowadays the majority of services offering financial advice must be authorised by the FCA. You can check to see whether a firm or individual is registered with the FCA by checking the FCA register. Also ensure that the firm is registered for offering the services you require (in this case pensions).In conclusion, guidance is usually for those people who have no idea about the financial options when saving for retirement. It will offer a broad reflection as to what routes you can take, how investment and tax are taken into consideration and what benefits and risks are involved. A regulated financial adviser narrows the different routes you can take by relating his advice to your financial circumstances and retirement vision. The facts you receive from any free financial guidance can be a great springboard to robust financial advice – and a safe and happy retirement.

    When looking at options for your pension, get in touch with a regulated financial adviser such as Portafina or, view the info at Pension Wise.

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