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7 Critical Things Your Financial Advisor Must Meet

If They’re Not, It Could Spell Trouble

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Entrusting your wealth to a company or an individual to grow takes a lot of trust with a healthy sprinkling of faith.

Here are seven things your financial advisor needs to be in order for your investment to be safe.

Related: What Makes a Good Financial Management System?

1. Be Regulated in RSA

Your financial advisor needs to be regulated in the country that you reside in.

Why is this important?

It makes them accountable and ensures that they are giving sound advice. Plus, if you wish to complain, you have the protection of that regulatory body – in South Africa, the FSB – to go to.

2. Be Independent

Why is this important?

Being with an independent financial advisor means that there is little possibility of biased advice being offered and a stronger likelihood of only sound, impartial advice being considered for your investments.

Some companies have conflict of interest due to key members of their staff being affiliated with other companies. Can they truly give impartial advice? If there is a conflict of interest, has it been disclosed?

3. Be Committed

A good way to assess if your financial advisor or company is committed to the country they are established in is the evidence of a bricks-and-mortar office. Can they meet you face to face? If not, that should be enough to set your alarm bells ringing.

Why is this important?

No commitment to the country means that, should they suddenly change strategy and decide that South Africa is not for them, there’s nothing stopping them from leaving.

Even if they are regulated in South Africa, they may still close their doors. Where does that leave you and your wealth management?

4. Offer Quality of Providers

It is important that your financial advisor offers you products and businesses from large international companies with a long-standing history.

5. Offer Quality Investment Options

Your financial advisor or wealth-management company should be offering you quality investment offerings. Do they have a wide range of investment options, and how competitive are they in the market place?

Why is this important?

Knowing how your investment company compares with other companies might be a bit of an eye opener.

Your financial advisor might be getting away with overcharging simply because you are unaware of what they should be charging. For example, some charge their clients an upfront fee to get entrance to investments. This fee is completely unnecessary and literally goes straight into their pockets.

If your financial advisor charges you an entrance fee to gain access to investments, it might be time to move.

Related: (Video) Financial Management Basics for Entrepreneurs

6. Keep You Up to Date

With so many changes in legislation, overseas changes and current trends, it is vital your financial advisor provides you with on-going education on these changes.

Why is this important?

If they are not telling you, the worry is that they do not know themselves. More than that, if they know and are not advising you accordingly, it could mean your investments are at risk.

7. Be a Decent Human Being

This may seem like a soft point in a financial piece, but when you are dealing with someone on a regular basis, it helps a whole lot if you actually like the person. More so if you trust them.

Do they return your calls? Do they do what they say they will do? Do they explain technical things to you in a way that helps you understand them?

Why is this important?

You will be in a relationship with this person for the rest of your life. If you don’t like them now, you’re probably still not going to like them 10 years from now.

Michael heads up the Group Sales for Carrick, and is the only British member of the Board. He was born in the old Roman city of Chester, England, where he also began his career at Trinity Mirror PLC. Amongst a number of accolades he became the youngest person to manage the company’s most important clients in the Key Accounts position.

How to Guides

Making Money Online: 10 South African Entrepreneurs Doing It

You don’t need an eight-to-five job or stacks of capital as the launch-pad to start a business and create your own source of income. Here are 10 entrepreneurs who’ve found some unconventional ways of making money online using common platforms.

Diana Albertyn

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Fintech And Small Business Success: 5 Tips For SA’s Fintech Start-ups

Let’s look at what the future holds and how small businesses can benefit.

Colin Timmis

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Around the world, the fintech revolution is disrupting our relationship with money, both in our personal and business lives. This global market is expected to be worth $10,499m by the end of 2018 – and digital payments account for much of this growth. This means it’s an exciting time for small businesses looking to get ahead. Whether they’re fintech developers, users or both, these businesses are putting new technologies to work and benefitting hugely.

South Africa’s small business community, like elsewhere, is embracing fintech with enthusiasm. To make the most of  this energy, new incubators and accelerators are setting up shop across the country. Cape Town, for example, hosted its first ‘Startupbootcamp’ which focused on creating scalable technology solutions for financial services and related industries. At Xero, we recently launched a virtual hackathon to enable South Africa’s technology entrepreneurs to compete with other forward-thinking developers on a global scale.

Against an energetic business landscape, fintech presents an attractive market for SA’s budding entrepreneurs. In today’s competitive business environment, new technologies are key to meeting your target audience’s needs and expectations.

So, how can entrepreneurs take advantage of what fintech promises? Let’s look at what the future holds and how small businesses can benefit.

Think smart, grow fast

The range of available fintech solutions and tools is vast. However, new technologies alone are not enough to get your business off the ground – and keep it there. Here are five tried and tested tips for small business owners to keep in mind at all times.

Related: Fintech: Fusing Finance And Technology

1. Have an idea

Entrepreneurs first need an idea, then a plan supported by realistic goals. Your idea has to be good: ask yourself what you’re going to sell, and why. Once inspiration has struck, subject your idea to some hard scrutiny. Chances are someone else is already doing something similar – which is fine if you can do it better.

2. Build a plan

Your business plan is your map. It will help you launch your idea with structure and thought, and guide your company’s progression. You don’t need to stick to your plan like glue: Flexibility is certainly a virtue. A new twist or turn – as long as it’s on the right track – could take the business forward faster.

3. Be flexible

Of course, if something isn’t working then don’t be afraid to abandon it and move on. Fear of failure often results in entrepreneurs throwing good money after bad. Know when to scrap an idea, take what you’ve learnt and focus on something new. Remember, there’s no point crying over sunk costs.

4. Stay alert

When it comes to new ideas, look at what’s old and needs refreshing. Keep a constant eye out for ways to disrupt the status quo and offer people a better way of getting what they need. Even if your business is running smoothly and doing well, if you don’t stay alert, you could lose out on some low-hanging fruit to a competitor.

5. Use technology

Startups are typically constrained by limited resources – namely time, money and labour. A solid plan will help allocate your resources effectively. Fintech solutions can provide a strong backbone that helps you enhance your capacity, manage your cash flow better and improve productivity.

Related: 6 Lessons The Founders Of iKhokha Used To Launch An African Fintech Start-up

The future of fintech in SA

South Africa is fertile ground for fintech. A lack of legacy infrastructure – particularly in outer lying areas – has created a large underbanked rural population hungry for financial services. What’s more, a growing urban middle class is demanding more sophisticated solutions to outdated forms of payment processing.

Fortunately, these demands are not falling on deaf ears. The local tech community is part of a dynamic development ecosystem that is working hard to innovate tools that provide greater financial access. With a clear gap in the market and an eager target audience, the future for fintech developers and users in SA is looking stronger than ever before.

Regardless of what your business offers, where it is based, it’s size or age, it’s time to join the fintech revolution. By embracing relevant solutions, your business will become more agile, efficient, responsive and ultimately, more successful.

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How to Guides

Loan Scams: How To Protect Yourself From Loan Scams

My thoughts are that only if there is a grassroots movement by people affected by these scams to get rid of these unscrupulous marketers, will there be any chance of change.

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The current economic situation we’re experiencing in South Africa has created a strong appetite for credit. Often consumers need to borrow money out of desperation just to help them survive. It is here where scam artists and unscrupulous marketers prey on the public, signing them up for services they do not need, with monthly debit orders adding to their woes.

It’s a tactic that we’re seeing more of these days: A company advertises that they can help you secure a loan, even if you’re blacklisted. They charge you for this ‘service’ and at the same time sign you up for a bundle of monthly paid-for add-ons, hidden away in the Terms and Conditions (T&Cs).

They are doing this despite the fact that it is illegal to advertise loans to those who are blacklisted (according to the National Credit Act), and that a company cannot charge to facilitate a loan (according to National Credit Regulator [NCR]). To make matters worse, in 99% of cases, the applicant is turned down, and now has to continue paying for services that they were unaware of signing up for in the first place.

Related: The Definitive List Of South African Business Incubators For Start-Ups

This is criminal behaviour, but for some reason it does not get acted on by relevant authorities (such as the NCR) which should be protecting consumers. With an estimated one million South Africans being preyed upon like this annually, those who are tasked with watching over the consumer should not shake this responsibility. That’s not to say the marketing industry is blameless – far from it, but without a regulatory body, there’s very little to be done to act on these rogue companies. Even Google benefits from these loan scammers – just type in “bad credit loans” and see how many ads pop into the paid search results.

My advice would be for consumers to be vigilant in managing their financial affairs, especially when it comes to “too good to be believed” offers. Here are some pointers to help consumers protect themselves:

  • Never give your bank details to an unknown brand or marketing company that is not your own bank or insurance company.
  • ALWAYS read the Terms and Conditions before signing up for anything. Most of these scams work because the extras you sign up for are buried in the T&Cs, making them part of the contract.
  • Never agree to pay someone to find you a loan. The service provider is conducting an illegal act, since they cannot charge consumers for loan finding services according to the NCR.
  • As difficult as it can be, do not apply for loans if you are blacklisted as there is little chance you will qualify. These scams are run by people who feed off/take advantage of people’s desperation, so rather speak to your bank to get advice about your situation.
  • Sites such as Hellopeter are a great resource to check if companies are offering fraudulent services. It will only take a few minutes, but could save you years of problems.

As for what to do if you have fallen victim to these scams, complain in writing to the Credit Ombudsman (ombud@creditombud.org.za) as soon as possible. At this stage, we’ve lost faith in the NCR or the Consumer Protection Act stopping these types of scams. Rather get in touch with Carte Blanche, your local or national newspaper, and note it on Twitter and Facebook. My thoughts are that only if there is a grassroots movement by people affected by these scams to get rid of these unscrupulous marketers, will there be any chance of change.

Related: Seed Capital Funding For South African Start-Up Businesses

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