White stethoscope on a medical book. Shallow depth of field.

By Marc Ovits
BA (Hons) APFS Cert PFS (DM)

Few people these days have the time or inclination to optimise their financial affairs. One of the benefits of seeking advice from a competent and fully independent adviser is that you can be sure that all options will be considered and that no stone will be left unturned when it comes to the adviser recommending the best plan for your particular set of circumstances. Advice comes in two forms these days – restricted or independent. It’s important you understand the differences. An adviser offering ‘restricted’ advice will be limited either in terms of the services or products he/she advises on and/or limited by the providers from which they recommend a plan. On the other hand, an adviser offering ‘independent’ financial advice should be unrestricted in terms of product, service or provider. Needless to say, it is frequently in an individual’s best interests to have all the options available to them. This is particularly the case when it comes to the protection market. Yet ironically this is often the area in which individuals appear to be content to receive restricted advice. The article below gives you an example of what you could be missing out on if you don’t take competent and independent advice.

Family protection tends to be focussed on three key products.

1. Life cover – providing either a lump sum or an income on the death of the life assured. One of the cardinal sins I frequently come across when reviewing someone’s life cover is that the plan has not been put in trust. As a result, should there be a need to make a claim on the plan, the insurer will pay the sum assured into someone’s estate, potentially add to their beneficiary’s inheritance tax liability. A rather expensive oversight !

2. Critical Illness cover – providing a lump sum on diagnosis of a specified illness.

3. Income protection – providing regular and potentially long term income in the event an individual is unable to work through illness or disability.

With respect to selecting an appropriate protection plan, price is always going to be a key factor in any recommendation process. However, it is far from the only consideration these days. A competent adviser would discuss the added value benefits that now come with each provider and their respective plans. Such added value benefits include counselling services, hospitalisation benefit, career support services, legal services and rehabilitation services. However in my opinion there is one particular benefit, offered by only a couple of providers that trumps the others and provides you and your family with an outstanding and potentially life-saving benefit.
The free added value benefit I am referring to is called Best Doctors. Best Doctors is a ‘second medical opinion service’ that gives policy holders and their immediate family the information they need to help ensure they get the right diagnosis, treatment and care. As the name implies, the service offers policyholders access to a second medical opinion service from one of the best experts around the world in their particular area of medical need.
Founded over 25 years ago by professors from Harvard Medical School, Best Doctors is a worldwide network of over 53,000 leading medical specialists across 450 specialities. These experts are identified through the medical profession’s largest ongoing peer-to-peer survey. Every two years, doctors in the survey are asked, if they or a loved one needed a doctor
in a certain speciality, who would they choose? The top 5% of those recommended make it onto the Best Doctors list. Doctors are not paid for being on the list – nor do doctors pay Best Doctors to be on the list.
The second opinion service is available on a wide variety of conditions including major trauma, burns, stroke, renal failure, organ transplants, heart, eye, hearing, speech, lung and bone disorders, diseases of the nervous system such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. It can also provide support for other conditions causing major discomfort or interference with a healthy and productive life such as migraines or skin diseases.

To Be Continued

The Writer is the owner and Managing Director of Alpha Wealth Management Limited. Drawing on over twenty years’ experience in financial services, Marc helps private clients, businesses, charities, and trusts optimize their finances. He is a Chartered Financial Planner providing ‘Independent’ financial advice. Prior to being a financial adviser, Marc was a Director at several global investment banks, providing investment advice to Europe’s leading institutional investment and pension fund managers. For advice on inheritance, investment, protection, or retirement planning, please contact Marc on 020 8203 6920 or 07866 503 898 or marc@alphawm.co.uk.