I’ve chosen an advisor; what are the next steps?
Once you have decided on an advisor and they agree to act, you will normally be asked to sign their Terms of Engagement (also known as a Client Care letter). This is a written contract setting out how they will provide their advice services to you and on what terms.
The document should cover all aspects of your business dealings with them, including fees, levels of service (if specified) and what happens if things go wrong. It is always possible to re-negotiate these terms if your business needs alter over time.
New research commissioned by legal regulators and the Legal Services Consumer Panel (LSCP) has identified principles to help legal services providers better communicate with their clients.
The independent researchers have recommended eight key principles for preparing effective Client Care Letters. They are:
- Show a clear purpose
- Keep it concise
- Put it in plain English
- Prioritise information
- Personalise information
- Make it easy to read
- Highlight key information
- Consider additional opportunities to engage clients
If you are being asked to sign a Client Care letter which does not adopt these principles you can always ask for clarification or more detail.
Before accepting you as a new client the advisor will have checked to make sure there is no potential for conflict with the clients they already represent. It is also normal for your advisor to ask for formal identification papers (passport, utility bill, etc.) to assist them in running money laundering checks before they take you on; they are legally required to do this, so don’t take it personally!