What does a financial adviser or financial planner do?

One of the questions many people ask us is: “what does a financial planner do?”

It’s easy to assume that a financial planner is just there to deal with specific money issues. You have a financial problem; they will help you to deal with it.

The truth is quite different. Financial planners are there to be a trusted long-term partner, helping you to get where you want to be in life. To them, money and wealth are a means, not an end.

Before answering the question “what does a financial planner do?” it’s important to look at the difference between a financial adviser and a financial planner.

Financial advice vs financial planning

For years, many people have used ‘financial adviser’ and ‘financial planner’ interchangeably. In basic terms, both will give you some advice as to what to do with your money. However, that’s essentially where the similarity ends.

If the first question a person asks is about your money, they are probably a financial adviser. They typically provide transactional advice so, for example, if you want some guidance on where to invest your money, they might sell you an investment product. They might start a pension for you or arrange your life and Critical Illness cover.

Other than the occasional review of your ‘products’, that’s likely to be the limit of their relationship with you.

If the first question a person asks is about your life, or your hopes, goals, or ambitions, they are probably a financial planner. Financial planners take the time to get to know you. They talk about you, not your money, because that’s what’s important.

As you probably guessed by our name, we’re strong believers in the transformative effects of financial planning. So, what does a financial planner do?

Helping you to achieve your life goals

Despite our status as financial planners, you’ll perhaps find it unusual that our main focus is not your money.

We see money as very much the means to an end, not the end in itself. When we meet you, we’ll ask you questions that you probably won’t expect from a financial professional:

  • What ambitions or goals do you have?
  • What would you like to do with your retirement?
  • What’s important to you?
  • How do you want to spend your time, both now and in the future?
  • What keeps you awake at night?

Only be finding out what makes you tick – what you want to achieve with your life – can we work with you to help you meet those goals. It’s not so much what you should do with your money, but why.

A couple of examples to show you how we can help

One of the ways that a financial planner can help you is to ensure that you don’t run out of money in retirement.

Unlike a financial adviser, who may ‘sell’ you an annuity or drawdown plan, a financial planner will create a plan that allows for sustainable withdrawals, taking all your assets and your personal circumstances into account.

Read more about why you might run out of money in retirement, and what we can do to help.

A financial planner will also be an invaluable partner when markets, laws, or your goals change. They will model scenarios and modify your plan to identify the right course of action, helping you to deal with both good fortune and unexpected bumps in the road.

How our financial planning process works

So, we’ve established that our role as financial planners is to help you to live the life you want to live, both now and in the future. So, how does this process work?

  1. Helping you to decide what you want from life

Our initial meetings focus on understanding you and your goals. We’ll chat about you, your career, your family, your worries, and your dreams.

Only then will we roll our sleeves up and get working. We’ll obtain information about your existing financial arrangements, create an income and outgoings profile, create a long-term strategy, and explore your attitude to risk and reward.

We also use sophisticated cashflow modelling tools to model a range of ‘what if?’ scenarios. We can show you, in graphical form, how your financial future will look based on a range of assumptions and taking market volatility and growth into account.

You’ll be able to see your present and future commitments, whether you have ‘enough’ to retire, what your future lifestyle might look like, and whether you can leave the legacy you want to your children or grandchildren.

Once we have a good idea of where you’re at now, and where you want to get to, we’ll make some recommendations.

  1. Putting our advice into place

The next step is for us to implement the plan. That might involve completing paperwork, establishing trusts, and liaising with providers – keeping you in the loop at all times.

  1. Reviewing and improving

Things change. Your life, career, goals, and health can all change suddenly, which is why it’s important to regularly review your financial plan.

If changes need to be made, we’ll adapt the plan, make alterations to your arrangements, and reduce costs where possible.

In 2019, a major report from the International Longevity Centre underlined the power of regular reviews with a financial planner. Individuals who received professional financial advice between 2001 and 2006, and then again in 2014 to 2016, had nearly 50% higher average pension wealth than those only advised at the start.

Get in touch

If you’re currently working with a financial adviser and you feel you’d like more out of the relationship, it’s time to consider a financial planner.

An initial chat is always at our expense, so please get in touch to find out more about how we can help you live the life you want. Contact us today or call 01372 404417.



Reviews and Ratings for Financial adviser Ray Martin, Kingston-upon-Thames

We’re highly rated

We retain a 5-star rating on VouchedFor, an independent service that enables clients to review their professional advisers. VouchedFor verifies the reviews and testimonials we receive, so you can be confident that they are authentic. 2018, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 Top Rated Adviser, as listed in The Times

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Our former financial adviser was retiring and recommended Ray to us. He alleviated the constant worry of where to best invest our savings without too much risk. We’re very pleased with the results over the last 10 years. He explains things in layman's language, which we appreciate, and gives us the confidence we have made the right choices. What more can people expect?


We had pension policies and investments that needed sorting out ready for retirement. We didn't know what to expect from a financial adviser. We assumed that he would simply advise us where to get the best deals. How wrong we were. Ray took us right back to basics. He made us carefully consider what we really wanted to achieve. He has allowed us to start to really enjoy our retirement.


I needed financial advice about pensions and investments as I approached retirement. My wife was in the same position. Ray Martin worked out a comprehensive plan for putting my pension provision and savings into proper order. He did the same for my wife. He has continued to provide us with advice ever since. Ray is always straightforward, open and proactive.


I was approaching retirement and wanting to look into limiting taxation and Inheritance Tax, as well as providing for my wife. Ray provided sound advice to switch from my current arrangement to a Drawdown Pension and ISA investments. I have now retired and have started seeing the benefits of his advice. The returns on my portfolio have increased beyond expectation. Ray performed extremely well.


I had sold my house and didn't know how to invest the money. Ray invested very wisely and there has been about a 5% increase every year. He listened to our queries, gave answers that we fully understood and followed any requests. He always had time for us, and never rushed us. We would have been financially at a loss without his help.


Ray has been advising my wife and me for about 20 years. He is everything one could hope for in a financial adviser: wonderfully enthusiastic, extremely well informed, completely trustworthy and scrupulously observant of the regulatory requirements. He is able to explain complex matters very clearly, and so far, his advice has always been first class.


I had money to invest and had no idea how to go about investing it and hopefully making a gain. I have three children and wanted advice about inheritance planning. Ray is very patient, very clear when he explains things, he is very interested in me as a person, totally trustworthy and is an excellent listener. We have never been disappointed! He`s been brilliant.


I had just been widowed. Ray sorted out and simplified what was a very complex set of investments into a much less confusing portfolio. I have been extremely happy with everything Ray has advised over the last 12 years. Whilst moving with the times, he has dealt with all aspects of my investments wisely and given me all the guidance and help I have needed.


As the financial director of a company, I was seeking to get advice on how to plan and invest for retirement. Without a doubt, Ray Martin helped me understand and plan how to fund my retirement. Ray has been with me every step of the way. His advice has been invaluable. I retired and achieved my annual income goal. His continued advice is helping me in the next stage of my life.


I needed some advice regarding my late mother’s estate. I had also retired and required advice on how to manage my private pension. Ray was extremely helpful, and his advice was very clear and easy to understand. I came away from our initial meeting feeling very relieved and less stressed. We have just had our first yearly review and I was surprised how well my investments had done.


In the last 10 years, my circumstances have changed with the passage of time. Ray has guided me on how to protect and make my money grow. He listens carefully to my needs and gives clear, concise advice in a professional manner. He and his team are always accessible and patient with my questions and their approach gives me confidence that my finances are securely looked after.


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