Getting good advice: Financial Adviser's role

Finding the right financial adviser whom you can trust and have confidence in is essential.

Licensed professionals

There are regulations setting out the entry criteria for persons wishing to offer financial advisory services.  There are minimum requirements for age, "fit and proper" status, educational level and the passing of licensing examinations.

Representatives Notification Framework (RNF) Register

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which regulates the financial services industries, has an online Register of representatives for prospective clients to check if their financial adviser is currently licensed and of good standing. Every representative has an RNF Reference Number you should ask for.

The following are the different types of representatives:

  • Representative of a life insurance company
    He represents only one life insurance company and can advise you on the products of that company.  He may also advise you on the products of other financial institutions if his life insurance company has an agreement to distribute those products.
  • Representative of a bank or other financial institution
    He represents only one bank or one other financial institution and can advise you on the products of one or more life insurance companies with whom the bank or financial institution has an agreement with to distribute those products.

    Other financial institutions include insurance brokers, securities firms and finance companies.

  • Representative of a Financial Adviser firm
    He represents only one FA firm and can advise you on the financial products of a few life insurance companies and other financial institutions.

Finding a financial adviser

There are a number of things you would want to know in selecting a financial adviser and you may speak to several before making up your mind.

Here are some questions to ask your prospective financial adviser:

  1. What experience do you have?

    Find out how long the adviser has been in practice and the number and types of companies he has been associated with.  Your relationship with your financial adviser is a long term one.  Your insurance coverage and investment portfolio need his periodic review to ensure that they continue to serve your changing needs.

  2. What qualifications do you have?

    In addition to the minimum regulatory requirements, consider if an adviser has experience in insurance, investment, tax planning, estate planning or retirement planning.

  3. What is your approach to financial planning?

    What is the profile of clients and financial situations he typically works with?  Is the adviser’s viewpoint on investing too cautious or overly aggressive for you?

  4. How will I pay for your services?

    Financial advisers can be paid in several ways:

    • A salary paid by the company for which the adviser works.
    • Fee based on an hourly rate, a flat rate or a percentage of your assets and/or income.
    • Commission paid from the product sold to you, usually as a percentage of the premium you pay or the amount you invest.
    • A combination of fee and commission.