Watch your Advisers

Dangerous to Your Wealth
Your adviser may be dangerous to your wealth. Not many years ago, a person's word was taken as his/her bond. Those days have changed. Today it is necessary to have everything in writing with signed and sealed agreements that compel one party or the other to fulfil certain obligations that have been agreed to.

The same suspicion should now be of advisers. You need to remember that just because you have a professional adviser advising you, it does not necessarily mean that your wealth is being protected or that the person is 100% honest in dealing with your assets. We are continually faced with lawyers, financial planners, or other professionals who from time to time are reported in our newspapers as being guilty of fraud.

We know that most advisers are honourable people who have a professional obligation and responsibility to look after our affairs. It is the dishonest and negligent advisers we need to watch. We mention negligent because an adviser does not necessarily have to be dishonest to be a danger to your wealth.

Poor Advice Can Cause You Loss
Poor advice or negligent performance of duty, such as in the placing of your investments, can cause you loss. Be more aware than ever before of what you are about - what instructions you give to your adviser and what advice your adviser gives to you. For example, some accountants are good at accounting, but they are not up to date with the finer points of taxation. If your requirements are mainly for tax saving or tax reduction, then you need to seek an accountant who specialises in that area.

Just because someone is an accountant, it does to necessarily mean they know enough about tax to help you. Being an accountant does not make them a tax expert, just as being in practice as a general practitioner does not give that GP the knowledge and expertise to carry out brain surgery on you.

This warning is applicable to all advisers and does not target any particular profession or group. It is a general warning that you should not leave everything to your adviser, but you should familiarise yourself a little with the subject or project in question before passing over your hard earned cash or assets to an adviser.

There are plenty of signs you should look for when consulting with an adviser and many of the tips and traps are located within the material you are reading - in other sections.

Types of Advisers
Advisers come in all shapes and sizes. An adviser may either belong to a professional body that administers and controls that particular profession, or they may be an adviser who does not belong to any organisation they have to be accountable to. This does not mean that if you do not belong to an association you are not a good adviser, because many advisers dealing in finances and accounting, and are not qualified, are far better than those who are qualified. Simply passing some examination or having a degree does not guarantee that your adviser is going to be honest in all his/her dealings with you.

Most competent advisers, however, have some professional qualification or belong to a professional body.

Some of these could include the following:

  • Accountants.
    Accountants will investigate and work with you to ensure the success of your business. They are able to complete financial accounts and review your financial records to assess your business performance and recommend new directions. Accountants handle most things to do with business or finance and have good general knowledge across the board. If they do not have expertise in an area you have consulted them about, then they are generally professional enough to refer you to someone who can help you.

  • Lawyers.
    Society today is very litigious and people will sue each other at the drop of a hat. Whether this is good or not is debatable, but the fact is, legal costs can burn a large hole in your finances, so you need to do a lot of homework yourself before consulting a lawyer on any matters for which you need help.

    It goes without saying that you need to consult a good lawyer where there is any dispute or legal protection required, or if you need to recover property, or money belonging to you from another party. Lawyers should always be consulted before signing any type of documentation at all, because of the legal implications that may be involved.

  • Valuers.
    A Valuer is someone who will evaluate your business or evaluate your property and give their opinion as to its worth.

  • Business Brokers.
    Business brokers are almost a necessity today if you are buying or selling a business. Business brokers come under the arm of the Real Estate Institute because they are dealing in property of one type or another. This means that most real estate people have the authority to sell a business on your behalf, even if they do not possess a lot of financial or business experience. You would need to watch this.

    Being a qualified real estate sales person does not necessarily mean the realtor involved knows anything about business. Always utilise the services of a Business Broker. If you must use a Realtor make sure it's someone with sound business knowledge and experience. Find a Business Broker with a solid track record of successful business selling and buying.