As an expat in France, when you search for a financial adviser, how can you be assured that they are right for you? In principle there are three categories of adviser: Tied, Restricted and Independent.
Tied Advisers in France
In France there are insurance company agents working almost in every town – they typically represent just one company, AXA for example. They will offer you only the products of that company and will be limited to “French only” products. They are unlikely to have a specialisation in UK or inter-national pensions or investments. Typically, any product will only be in euros rather than a choice of currency. The person you deal with is known as a ‘courtier’ or a broker, they are usually trained in knowing only their products and will ‘sell’ those they think are appropriate for you. They don’t generally look at other areas of financial planning.
Some savings vehicles the UK has such as ISAs are not available in France, similarly there are French savings and bank products that are not available outside of France. Savings products like Livret “A” can be useful for your liquid cash – up to certain limits. But, you may wish not to tie yourself into products or accounts that might have a limited investment selection or which do not work in other countries outside of France.
Tied advisors, whether working for banks or insurance companies generally offer a limited range of investments and savings and funds and some may be tied to just one company.
Restricted Advisers in France
A restricted adviser is limited as to who and what they recommend. In the case of the popular (and essential in good investment and tax planning in France) Assurance Vie investments for example, they may only offer one or two alternatives as well as a limited range of investment funds for you to invest in.
There may be charges for this type of product. And, there could be restrictions on how much you can withdraw in the early years. There is of course nothing wrong with this. But, you may be ‘limiting’ your advice and missing out on a wider market approach. There may be a significant range of investments and investment companies which ultimately may be more suitable for you.
Restricted advisers may not have the experience or opportunity to look at other areas for financial planning for you.
Independent Advisers in France
This is an adviser who can offer you advice rather than product placement. Known as a ‘conseiller’ in France. They are highly trained and will not ‘sell’ you anything.
Independent advisers aim to plan and collect information on all of your financial assets. They provide a full report across areas such as inheritance/estate planning, pensions and investment. They will search the whole marketplace for a product that is appropriate for you and consider your needs and wishes to achieve the best outcome.
In France this can mean for instance that you will have a choice of a number of assurance vie products. Plus a portfolio can be tailored to your specific needs and requirements. And, you are not limited to any particular Assurance Vie product.
Everyone’s needs are slightly different – you might be moving across different countries in Europe or moving to Europe from another jurisdiction. Having an adviser who understands your needs may be fluid, can certainly be an advantage.
On the investment side, you will have access to a wide selection of funds, tailored to your aims and your individual risk profiles. An independent advisor should meet with you regularly to ensure your choices are the best for any given time. This also applies to your pension investments where you don’t have a “one size fits all solution“.
When you’re searching for an adviser, look for flexibility in approach, independence in selecting providers and in your investment selections.
Given the choice, you might have to pay a little more for a highly trained independent adviser, but you will get good service, regular contact and may have far better value for money in the long run.
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The financial advisers trading under Beacon Wealth Management are members of Nexus Global (IFA Network). Nexus Global is a division within Blacktower Financial Management (International) Limited (BFMI). All approved individual members of Nexus Global are Appointed Representatives of BFMI. BFMI is licensed and regulated by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission and bound by their rules under licence number FSC00805B.
And the information on these pages is intended as an introduction only and is not designed to offer solutions or advice. Beacon Global Wealth Management can accept no responsibility whatsoever for losses incurred by acting on the information on these pages.