Frequently Asked Questions


We find that there are some questions we get asked quite a lot by people who are thinking about using our services. We’ve listed a selection of the most popular ones in our FAQs, and hopefully you can find the information you are looking for below.

If you can’t find the answer to your question here, then please get in touch – we love questions, so keep them coming!

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Why would I choose Brighton Williams?

For us, financial planning is not just about numbers. It’s all about people, their journey through life and how we can help them along the way.

This is reflected in our customer service and our high level of customer satisfaction. Our clients, more often than not, remain with us for many years through to retirement and beyond. And, as they say, the proof is in the pudding – most of our new clients come to us through recommendations and referrals from happy customers.

We really want to help you, but just as importantly if we don’t think we can help, we’ll say so.

What is the first step?

Get in touch. Telephone, submit our contact form or drop in to our offices. Once you’ve made contact we’ll ask you some questions to give us an idea of what you want to achieve. If we think we can help, we’ll arrange a free initial consultation.

This meeting can be at your home or at our offices and will be an opportunity for your adviser to find out all the information needed to understand where you may benefit from financial planning advice. And remember, this is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions that you might have.

The initial meeting won’t cost you anything and is completely without obligation.

What will happen at my first meeting?

You’ll need to bring any relevant documents with you (for example copies of existing policies, ID documents, pay slips for mortgages), but we’ll let you know beforehand what to take.

Your adviser will complete a questionnaire called a ‘factfind’ with you, and this helps to get a clear and concise picture of your current personal and financial circumstances. Next, you’ll tell your adviser what it is you want to achieve.

Our costing structure will be discussed with you and your adviser will go through our ‘Costs & Services’, ‘Services & Payment Agreement’ or our ‘Client Agreement’ documents with you as appropriate.

We believe that clarity and understanding are extremely important, so please feel free to ask as many questions as possible about our firm, your adviser, our services and our costs, or anything else that’s on your mind. Your adviser is there to provide all the information you need.

If we can be of help to you, your adviser will then give you a brief outline of how we would do this. You can then do one of three things:

  1. If you are happy that our services will be of benefit to you and that you understand the cost to you, your adviser will discuss how best to move forward and may arrange another meeting.
  2. If you decide that we don’t fit what you’re looking for or that our services won’t be of benefit, then you can walk away. There will be no cost to you for the initial meeting. We will keep your details on file in accordance with the Data Protection Act, however we will not contact you in the future.
  3. If you are interested in our services, but not at this particular time, you can arrange for your adviser to contact you at a future date when you think you will be ready to go ahead.
Are you authorised and regulated by the FCA?

Yes. Our firm is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You can check our details on the FCA Register. Our FCA registered number is 149307. All of our financial advisers are registered with the FCA and therefore regulated.

You should note that if you use a financial adviser/firm that is not approved by the FCA, you will not benefit from access to the services of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong.

What type of advice do you offer?

Financial advisers can offer ‘independent’ advice, where they can consider all products and providers from the whole market or ‘restricted’ advice, which is limited to certain products, providers or both.

We are classed as a ‘restricted’ advice firm. This is because we do not provide advice on the following unregulated or ‘riskier’ products:- UCIS; EIS; ETF; VCT and Reits. We believe that we can accommodate even the most speculative investor without exposing them to this type of product.

It is important to understand that being a ‘restricted’ advice firm does not mean that we only offer advice on a small number of products or are tied to a limited amount of providers. The products we do not advise on form only a very small sector of the entire market. We carry out extensive ‘whole of market’ research on all products we provide advice on, across a range of providers.

We provide a comprehensive advice service for Pensions, Retirement Planning, Investments, Mortgages, Family Protection/Life Assurance and Employee Benefits.

What qualifications do you have?

The FCA has set a minimum standard of qualification that must be met by all financial advisers. This means that advisers now have to be qualified at Level 4 or above of the Qualifications and Credit Framework (equivalent to the first year of a university degree). Advisers must also ensure that their knowledge is kept up to date through attaining a minimum of 35 hours of accredited Continual Professional Development (CPD) per annum.

Professional advisers also need to obtain an annual Statement of Professional Standing (SPS), which is based on their qualifications and CPD.

All of our advisers are qualified to at least level 4 and have up to date SPS. Please feel free to ask your adviser to show you their qualifications and SPS.

Are you tied to any particular provider?

No. Although we are classified as a ‘restricted’ advice firm, we’re still able to consider every provider available in the market.

How do you charge for advice?

There is a cost for the valuable and professional service we provide, and we are totally committed to transparency when charging for what we do. We’ll always make sure you understand and agree to the costs for the work we propose to do for you.

How financial advisory firms charge has changed since 2014. Services are no longer paid for through commission from providers in respect of investments placed with them.

We now charge by fee, and the amount we charge varies depending on the complexity of the work we carry out for you. Usually, we’ll charge an upfront (or initial) fee to cover the advice and all the preparation work done. A regular (or ongoing) fee is charged to cover the work carried out for ongoing servicing and reviews.  Sometimes there will be a one-off (or ad-hoc) fee for project work carried out.

We’ll always tell you the amount of any fee and when you’ll be expected to pay, and agree this with you. If you’re not clear about the costs please ask us, as it is as important to understand the costs as well as the benefits of professional financial advice.

Can the cost of advice be deducted from my investment?

Sometimes. In certain circumstances we will give you the option to make a payment for our fee from the money for your investment, rather than paying a fee upfront. You should be aware that this will decrease the amount of money that will be invested.

We will agree with you in advance how you will pay for the advice you receive.

How will I receive the advice?

We will generally give you advice at a face to face meeting, either at your home or at our offices. In exceptional circumstances we may give advice by telephone or via a digital medium (such as Skype).

We will always confirm any advice given to you in writing, by issuing you with a report called a ‘suitability report’. The suitability report is an outline of the recommendations made to you as a result of your meeting(s) with your adviser. It will also outline the reasons why any recommendations have been made. You should read this document carefully.

Who will be advising me?

The adviser allocated to you will always be the most suitable for the type of enquiry. You will be given your adviser’s details during the initial stages of contact so that you know who you will be dealing with prior to any meeting. Your allocated adviser will be fully qualified in the area of advice you require (for example pensions, mortgages etc.).

If necessary, you will also be given details of other points of contact, for example who to get in touch with if you have any non advice-related questions or administrative queries.

Do you review my plan?

Yes. We believe that re-evaluating your financial arrangements on a regular basis is very important, so ongoing reviews form a core part of our service.

We will check the value of your investments, make sure your attitude to risk and loss is still the same, and generally check that nothing has changed in your circumstances. How often we review your plan (half yearly, annually, every two years) depends on the level of service you want and have agreed to.

You do not have to opt for an ongoing service, but if you do decide to do this we will explain what you can expect to happen and the cost involved.

How would you describe your typical client?

We believe that everyone should have access to quality financial advice so, unlike many firms, we do not have a lower limit of wealth that we apply to our potential clients. We have a range of service levels that cater for most types of client.

We only ask that our clients are fully committed to any financial plan that we implement for them. We feel that it is our job to help you grow your money over time and our aim is to be there with you throughout that entire journey.

I have existing policies, can you deal with these?

Yes. As part or our initial review of your financial circumstances, we firstly review your existing plans in terms of their cost and suitability. What happens next depends on your situation and how you want to proceed, but we can take on the servicing of those plans if necessary.

Do you deal with other areas like accountancy, wills or legal matters?

No, we don’t deal with these things directly but we understand the need to integrate other services with financial planning, so we have developed long-standing professional partnerships with firms of Accountants, Solicitors, General Insurance Brokers and Funeral Care companies. These firms are trusted by us and work to the high standards we expect.

We can put you in contact with one of our professional partners if you would like us to.

What if things go wrong and I want to make a complaint?

You should be aware that there is an element of risk with all investments. Changes in market conditions could mean that you may not always get back the whole amount that you invest.

However, if you believe that we have given you advice that has led to you purchasing a product that turns out to be unsuitable for your needs and your agreed risk profile, then you should contact us in the first instance.

We have an internal complaints procedure and we will always take your case very seriously. We will try our best to resolve any issues with you, however if you are still unsatisfied, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) which has the power to award compensation, if found necessary.

Complaints should be directed to: Sharon Brighton, Compliance Manager, Brighton Williams & Partners, 8 High Street, Winterbourne, Bristol BS36 1JN. You can contact us by telephone on 01454 773690 or email us at enquiries@brightonwilliams.com

The Financial Ombudsman Service provides information on how to make a complaint to them on their website www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk

What our clients are saying …