You should read this important document carefully when considering buying financial products.
This agreement is between Ruth Whitehead Associates and yourself. If you have any queries about the agreement or require clarification on a particular matter, please don’t hesitate to contact the office.
This document contains:
1. An overview of our firm and services
Ruth Whitehead Associates is a financial and business planning consultancy that offers objective, independent financial planning to private individuals and smaller companies or partnerships. Ruth started the company in 1993.
Who regulates us?
Ruth Whitehead Associates is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
What services do we offer?
We offer a range of services, from fully comprehensive overviews providing clients with advice on every aspect of their situation, to targeted advice focusing on specific issues. We will make a recommendation after assessing your needs.
We offer financial advice and a transactional execution only service where we act as agent for providers and managers.
Scope of advice
We are independent and are therefore able to offer products from the whole of the market which we believe gives our clients the widest possible choice. We will obtain sufficient information from you to outline your investment objectives, and recommendations will be confirmed in writing.
How we work, the services we provide
Our recommendation will be based on a sufficient range of retail investment products, instruments and structured deposits to offer an independent service.
We also advise on non-investment protection products eg. Term Assurance, Mortgage Protection Assurance, Critical Illness Insurance, Private Medical Insurance, Permanent Health Insurance, Accident, Sickness and Unemployment Insurance from a range of insurers.
Our advice is based on the information that you give us which should be up to date, accurate and complete. If you do not give us the relevant information we need to provide advice, we may refuse to proceed.
Where we agree to provide you with an ongoing review service, we will carry this out at least annually. This service will continually assess the ongoing suitability of previous recommendations. To do this, part of the annual review will require you to confirm the information we hold about you remains accurate and up to date.
Any subsequent advice or recommendation will be based upon your stated financial objectives, acceptable level of risk and any restrictions you wish to place on the type of investments or policies you are willing to consider.
All our recommendations are justified and confirmed in writing. Unless confirmed we will not place any restrictions on our recommendations.
Each client with whom the firm does business is categorised to help us identify the level of regulatory protection available. It is our intention to categorise you as a retail client from the outset as this offers the highest level of regulatory protection for you. Under certain conditions your circumstances might require us to offer you Professional Client status. In this case you will lose certain protections under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 enforced by the FCA. This means, that amongst other things, we will not have to adhere to all of the rules as set out by the regulator in respect of financial promotions and we will not have to ensure that you understand all the risks associated with the transactions and services we provide.
We will communicate with you in English, both verbally and in writing. We may also meet with you face to face, communicate verbally with you by telephone or emailing, but not social media. We request that clients give us instructions in writing to avoid all doubt or possible disputes. Therefore, any verbal instruction you make should be confirmed in writing thereafter.
In addition to making calls at your express invitation, we may contact you at intervals to review your investment requirements. This may involve writing, telephoning or emailing you to outline possible changes in legislation or to advise you on services or investments that might be of particular interest.
It is your responsibility to provide complete and accurate information to us and insurers when you effect your policy, throughout the life of your policy, and when you renew your insurance. It is important that you ensure all statements you make on proposal forms, claim forms and other documents are full and accurate. We cannot be held responsible for incorrect or incomplete data held in the event of inaccurate or non-disclosure.
If you fail to disclose any material information to us or your insurers, this could invalidate your insurance cover and could mean that part or all of a claim may not be paid.
Any advice that we give will thus be based solely on your stated objectives, acceptable level of risk, and any restrictions you may wish to place on the type of investments you are willing to consider.
It may on occasion be necessary to amend this agreement. Unless we obtain your consent, we will give you at least fourteen days’ notice of our intention to do so before conducting investment business with or for you, unless it is impracticable in the circumstances to do so.
Conflicts of interest
In our dealings with you we consider it unlikely that we will have a conflict of interest, or material interest in the transaction, other than the receipt of fees or commission described below. Where, however, we have a conflict of interest, or a material interest, or where we are aware that one of our other customers has such an interest, we will disclose full details to you in writing or orally before we advise you about the transaction and give you the opportunity to object.
If we make a recommendation likely to involve a transaction with or through another person with whom we have an agreement to receive goods or services (a ‘soft commission agreement’) we will let you know at the time of the recommendation of any such agreement and our policy regarding them. At present we have no soft commission agreements in place.
Registration and documents
Where we arrange a life policy, pension or investment for you, the provider will produce documentation as evidence of the transaction. All investments will be registered in your name, unless you first instruct us otherwise in writing.
We will forward to you all documents of title and documents showing ownership of your investments, including policy documents and share certificates, as soon as practicable after we receive them. Where a number of documents relating to a series of transactions are involved, we will normally hold each document until the series is complete and then forward them to you. If you prefer, we will send them one at a time. We cannot retain such title documents for whatever reason including holding them as security.
As you may be aware, the UK is one of the most highly regulated financial centres in the world. This legislation safeguards the interests of consumers and other persons purchasing and being advised about investments, insurance and other financial products and in use of their personal data. Against this backdrop, we are required to make certain regulatory and statutory declarations to you.
If instructed by you, we collect data during our initial and other meetings about you and your family. We will also be collecting data about you from other persons. We collect the data through note-taking and filling in of questionnaires about you and your family’s circumstances.
We may make checks with credit rating agencies to authenticate and verify your identity and credit status. We also make checks with institutions with whom you have policies of insurance and investments, and with your mortgage provider. These checks are to help us with our obligations at law and generally to ensure that we provide you with advice that suits your circumstances. The scope and extent of the gathering of information from third parties depends on what type of service you are taking from us.
Your personal information is very important to us. We will endeavour to take all due care to protect this information. We would like to highlight information that you should be aware of.
Some services are provided to us by third parties such as processing business or obtaining compliance or regulatory advice, which warrant the disclosure of more than just your basic contact details. You agree that personal information held by us may be disclosed on a confidential basis, and in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation, to any such third parties. You also agree that this information may be transferred electronically, and that ourselves, or any such third party, may contact you in future by any means of communication we consider appropriate at the time.
Product providers, lenders, investment managers and administrators may administer your policy, any existing policies you may have with them, provide other services, from centres in countries outside Europe (such as India and the USA) that do not always have the same standard of data protection laws as the UK. However, they are required to put a contract in place to ensure that your information is adequately protected, and they will remain bound by their obligations under the Data Protection laws even when your personal information is processed outside Europe.
How is your information used?
Primarily, we use your data and data about your family’s circumstances to provide advice to you and complete transactions on your behalf. We analyse and assess your data to maintain and develop our relationships with you.
Depending on the instructions we receive from you, we may pass your data to other professional advisers to enable us to provide advice most suited to your circumstances. Usually, this would be referrals to local accountants, solicitors, tax advisers and sometimes to specialist advisers in the financial and insurance industry where you may benefit from their expertise. We, and any specialist advisers to whom we introduce you, will pass your data to institutions if you agree to purchase or amend policies and products as part of the sales and advice process.
We will retain your data according to the statutory requirements for regulated products. For instance, if you are given specialist pension advice, the data will be retained indefinitely. If you want details of the statutory retention periods for various product types please contact us and we will obtain the latest legal position on your behalf.
We may be required to share your data with our regulator, the FCA and other third parties including our auditors. Your data is held in our offices in computer-based and paper-based filing systems.
Your right to a copy of your personal data
Under current data protection laws you have a right to obtain a copy of the personal information that we hold about you. If you believe that any information held is incorrect or incomplete, you should contact the Data Protection Officer at our usual address. Any information that is found to be incorrect or incomplete will be amended promptly.
Rights to cancel
You will be informed of your statutory right to cancel. This is normally 30 days for life and pension contracts. In some circumstances no statutory rights are granted. If this circumstance arises you will be informed in writing before any contract is concluded.
You, or we, may terminate our authority to act on your behalf under these terms of business at any time, without penalty. Notice of this termination must be given in writing and will take effect immediately upon receipt of the notice. Termination will not prejudice the completion of work already initiated on your behalf or any rights or obligations already arising. A due proportion of any charges for the service provided and any disbursement shall be settled to that date.
It may on occasion be necessary to amend the Engagement Letter where we both agree what we will do for you and what fees will be charged. Unless we obtain your consent, we will give you at least fourteen days’ notice of our intention to do so, before conducting investment business with or for you, unless it is impractical in the circumstances to do so.
We do not hold clients’ money and we never own the investments that you buy through us. We never accept cheques payable to us except in settlement of charges or costs for which we have sent you an invoice. We do not handle cash.
How we take instructions and give advice
Any recommendations given to you by us shall be in writing. This aids clarification and avoids future misunderstandings. We may, at our discretion, refuse to accept instructions although such discretion shall not be exercised unreasonably. We will record all transactions on our files which, along with copies of relevant documentation, will be retained by us for a period of not less than six years. You have a right to inspect copies of contract notes, vouchers and entries in our books or computerised records relating to your transactions. We reserve the right to withhold copies of these records if information to other parties would be disclosed.
We will never contact you or pass your details to other companies associated with us to contact you (including by telephone) with details of any other similar products or promotions without getting your express agreement first.
Later in this document you will need to give us your consent to the transfer of personal information as outlined above. While you are entitled not to do so, the practical implication is that we will find it very difficult to work together efficiently if you don’t, as all requests for information will need to go via you, and responses will need to come to us via you too.
How do we manage your instructions to trade your investments?
We do not execute any trades for you. Instead we place trades with third parties (investment managers) who execute the trades for you. The third parties are required to have a best execution policy. This means they must take all reasonable steps to ensure that they obtain the best possible result for you. Our procedures adhere to their policies and we monitor their adherence to those policies.
Whether you buy a product or not, you will pay us a fee for our advice and services. If we also receive commission from the product provider when you buy a product, we will pass on the full value of that commission to you in one or more ways. For example, we could reduce our fee, or reduce your product charges, or increase your investment amount, or refund the commission to you.
We will discuss your payment options with you and answer any questions you have. We will not charge you anything until you have agreed how we are to be paid. We will set out our charges separately and we will tell you if you have to pay VAT when you engage us. The “Engagement Letter” and these Terms will together form your contractual relationship with us.
Our charging structure is flexible, to best suit the work you have asked us to carry out. It is not possible to set out the many and various circumstances and services that may attach to different charging structures here, but we will agree that specifically with you in writing before we start work.
Maximum indicative rates are however set out below.
Initial or Discrete work
If on a percentage of Funds Invested Rate
ISA investments – 3% initial eg. 3% of £20,000 is £600
Investment (non ISA) – 5% initial eg. 5% of £250,000 is £12,500
Investment written in Trust – 8% initial eg. 8% of £250,000 is £20,000
Pension Switches – 5% initial eg. 5% of £100,000 is £5,000
Annuity Purchase – 3% initial eg. 3% of £300,000 is £9,000
Regular Premium Investment Contract – up to nine months premiums/contributions eg. 9x £150 is £1350
Regular Premium Insurance/Protection Contract – up to 18 months premiums/contributions or commission eg. 18x £90 is £1620
Equity Release and mortgages – a fee agreed in advance, the amount reflecting the complexity of the case. This fee will be payable at the outset. We will also be paid commission from the chosen provider which is disclosed to you from the outset.
The minimum charge for organising any product is £500.
It is rare for us to charge an hourly rate, but we do so where clients specifically request it, and it is the best value for money option for the client. As a result, we are not able to give an example costing. However, we can confirm that our rates are as follows
Principal/Adviser £400 per hour
Paraplanner/Administrator £150 per hour
This is charged in 5-minute intervals. You may ask us for an estimate of how much in total we might charge. You may also ask us not to exceed a given amount without checking with you first. With protection contracts, the commission will be used to offset any fees due. All renewal commission will be retained as a servicing fee.
Where we agree with clients to provide an agreed service for an indefinite period, we will agree the extent, frequency and level of that service with you. Typically, the service will entail keeping the investments and products you have under review, and replacing / updating them where necessary to ensure your financial objectives continue to be met. We will meet with you at least annually to do this work. Meetings may be held face to face, telephone, or via video eg on Skype.
ISA investments – 1% of the fund per annum eg. 1% of £20,000 is £200
Investment (non ISA) – 1% of the fund per annum eg. 1% of £250,000 is £2,500
Investment for income (non ISA) – 1% of the fund per annum e.g. 1% of £250,000 is £2,500
Investment written in Trust – 1% of the fund per annum eg. 1% of £250,000 is £2,500
Pension Switches – 1% of the fund per annum eg. 1% of £100,000 is £1000
Pension switches into drawdown – 1% of the fund per annum eg. 1% of £100,000 is £1,000
Regular Premium Investment Contract – 1% of the fund per annum eg. 1% of £50,000 is £500 per annum
Regular Premium Insurance/Protection Contract – 2.5% of the ongoing premium or commission eg. 2.5% of £90x 12(months) is £27 per annum
Whether or not you buy a product, you will pay us a fee for our advice and services. If we also receive commission from the product provider when you buy a product, we will pass on the full value of that commission to you in one or more ways. For example, we could reduce our fee, reduce your product charges, increase your investment amount, or refund the commission to you.
We will agree the charges before beginning work. Our Engagement Letter discloses all costs prior to work being completed. Charges are also outlined in an illustration from the provider, and again in the Financial Report we prepare for you.
Alternatively, you can choose one of the following options:
Fixed Price. We will agree a fixed price in advance of any work being started. This may either be payable separately or via the funds product provider.
Hourly rate. This is done at an hourly rate of £400 per hour charged in 5-minute intervals. You may ask us for an estimate of how much in total we might charge. You may also ask us not to exceed a given amount without checking with you first. With protection contracts, the commission will be used to offset any fees due. All renewal commission will be retained as a servicing fee.
Financial planning costs depend on complexity and size. We estimate that a typical case cost would be £3750
If you cancel a scheduled appointment with less than 48 hours’ notice we reserve the right to charge our hourly rate.
Aggregated costs and charges
If you enter into a transaction where third parties are involved, they will charge for their services.
Typically, there will be 3 or 4 third parties involved. By way of example, if we placed a £250,000 investment for you the annual charges might look like this;
To this you will need to add our ongoing charges, which are set out earlier. We haven’t added them here, because of the flexibility you have in how you pay us.
At this point, this is just an example. We have no idea of the actual costs. We will confirm the aggregated costs and charges based on our recommendations in our Engagement Letter or Suitability Report when we know the figures, but before you sign any commitment documents.
It is our intention to always provide the highest quality level of advice and service.
If you feel you need to make a complaint we are committed to dealing with it effectively and fairly in accordance with the FCA’s complaint handling rules and guidance.
In the first instance, please contact us:
In writing: Ruth Whitehead Associates, St Matthias Hall, Wordsworth Road, London N16 8DD
By phone: 020 7254 8262
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you cannot settle your complaint with us, you have the right to refer it to the Financial Ombudsman Service, free of charge, at The Financial Ombudsman Service, Exchange Tower, London E14 9SR, or by going to their website www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk.
Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)
If the FSCS judges that a firm is in default it must pay compensation to all claimants affected by the default. The limits of compensation for each complainant are as follows:
Deposits: 100% of the first £85,000.
Home finance limits
The maximum level of compensation for claims against firms declared in default on or after 1 April 2019 is £85,000 per person per firm.
The maximum level of compensation for claims against firms declared in default on or after 1 April 2019 is £85,000 per person per firm.
Long-term insurance (e.g. pensions and life assurance)
The maximum level of compensation for claims against firms declared in default on or after 1 April 2019 is 100% of the claim with no upper limit.
General insurance advice and arranging
– Compulsory insurance (e.g. third party motor)
The maximum level of compensation for claims against firms declared in default on or after the 1 April 2019 is 100% of the claim
– Non-compulsory insurance (e.g. home and general)
The maximum level of compensation for claims against firms declared in default on or after 1 April 2019 is 90% of the claim with no upper limit.
Third party rights
This Terms of Business excludes any rights which may be conferred upon third parties by the Contracts (Third Party Rights) Act 1999. To advise you properly, we must obtain certain information from you about your financial and personal circumstances, to assess your suitability for particular products and services.
This Terms of Business is governed by and shall be construed in accordance with English Law and the parties shall submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts.
This is our standard client agreement upon which we intend to rely. For your own benefit and protection you should read these terms carefully before signing them. If you do not understand any point please ask for further information.