These Terms of Business set out the general terms under which our firm will provide business services to you and the respective duties and responsibilities of both the firm and you in relation to such services. Please ensure that you read these terms thoroughly and if you have any queries we will be happy to clarify them. If any material changes are made to these terms we will notify you.
Authorisation with the Central Bank of Ireland
Guardian Financial Services Limited T/A Guardian Financial Advisors (hereinafter referred to as GFA)
is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland as an insurance intermediary registered under the European Communities (Insurance Mediation) Regulations, 2005 and as an Investment Intermediary authorised under the Investment Intermediaries Act, 1995. Copies of our regulatory authorisations are available on request. The Central Bank of Ireland holds registers of regulated firms. Our Registration Number is C2175. You may contact the Central Bank of Ireland on 1890 777 777 or alternatively visit their website at www.centralbank.ie to verify our credentials.
GFA are dedicated to providing unbiased financial advice, financial coaching and financial planning to our clients based on transparency and integrity. Our aim is to provide smart, value for money financial solutions tailored individually for the circumstances and needs of each of our clients.
GFA is subject to the Consumer Protection Code, Minimum Competency Code and Fitness & Probity Standards which offer protection to consumers. These Codes can be found on the Central Bank’s website www.centralbank.ie
GFA acts as a Financial Broker and, as such, we must be in a position to place insurance with at least five insurers and therefore can generally give consumers greater choice than agents and tied agents.
Our principal business is to provide lifestyle financial planning and coaching, wealth management and preservation, and retirement and estate planning advice to individual and small businesses. We also may arrange transactions on behalf of clients in relation to investments, pensions and life assurance products. A full list of insurers, product producers and lending agencies with whom we hold agencies is listed at the end of this document.
GFA acting as a Financial Broker means that:-
1) The principal regulated activities of the firm are provided on the basis of a fair analysis of the market; and
2) You have the option to pay in full for our services by means of a fee.
The concept of fair analysis is derived from the Insurance Mediation Directive. It describes the extent of the choice of products and providers offered by an intermediary within a particular category of life assurance, general insurance, mortgages, and/ or a specialist area. The number of contracts and providers considered must be sufficiently large to enable an intermediary to recommend a product that would be adequate to meet a client’s needs. The number of providers that constitutes ‘sufficiently large’ will vary depending on the number of providers operating in the market for a particular product or service and their relative importance in and share of that market. The extent of fair analysis must be such that could be reasonably expected of a professional conducting business, taking into account the accessibility of information and product placement to intermediaries and the cost of the search. In order to ensure that the number of contracts and providers is sufficiently large to constitute a fair analysis of the market, we will consider the following criteria: The needs of the customer, The size of the customer order, The number of providers in the market that deal with brokers, The market share of each of those providers, The number of relevant products available from each provider, The availability of information about the products, The quality of
the product and service provided by the provider, The cost, and any other relevant consideration.
GFA provides all products on a fair analysis basis i.e. providing services on the basis of a sufficiently large number of contracts and product producers available on the market to enable us to make a recommendation, in accordance with professional criteria, regarding which contract would be adequate to meet your needs.
We will provide assistance to you for any queries you may have in relation to the policies or in the event of a claim during the life of the policies and we will explain to you the various restrictions, conditions and exclusions attached to your policy. However, it is your responsibility to read the policy documents, literature and brochures to ensure that you understand the nature of the policy cover; particularly in relation to PHI and serious illness policies.
Specifically on the subject of permanent health insurance policies it is our policy to explain to you a) the meaning of disability as defined in the policy; b) the benefits available under the policy; c) the general exclusions that apply to the policy; and d) the reductions applied to the benefit where there are disability payments from other sources.
For a serious illness policy, we will explain clearly to you the restrictions, conditions and general exclusions that attach to that policy.
The suitability of all financial products depends on many factors and we will consider all relevant information before recommending any product to you. In order for us to fully assess your financial needs it is important that you provide all relevant information to us. If you do not do so the advice we provide may not be as suitable had the full information been provided. Before purchasing any product you will be advised of the product’s suitability and given a statement of reasons why, in our opinion, the product is suitable for your needs. All advice given will be based on our understanding of current law and Revenue practice. It may be that subsequent changes might affect the recommendations that have been made and these may need to be reviewed as a result. You may wish to contact us for a further financial review in that event.
Any failure to disclose material information may invalidate your claim and render your policy void.
Claims should be advised to the insurer when the claim arises. The insurer will advise you of its claims requirements and provide you with a copy of its claims process on request. If you experience any difficulty with the insurer’s claims process you should contact us.
We seek insurance and investment contracts for you from Institutions with which we hold a written appointment and from which we consider offer an appropriate product to meet the needs identified. We cannot and do not guarantee the solvency or continuing solvency of any Institution used and you should note that the financial position of an Institution can change at any stage. A list of all institutions with whom we hold written appointments from are detailed on Appendix I below.
We may charge you a fee for services provided instead of, or in conjunction with, commission and other payments from financial institutions to which we transmit orders on your behalf. With your consent, we may refer you to other entities regulated to provide financial services in the State. We may receive remuneration in return for such referrals.
We may receive commission and other remuneration from financial institutions with which we hold an appointment from. We may accept additional commission and remuneration from such financial institutions related to the volume of business we place with that financial institution. Commissions payable to us in relation to arranging certain life assurance, pension policies and PRSA’s are disclosed in a Disclosure Notice provided to you at the point of sale and/or at the cooling off stage.
If we have arranged for your fee to be offset by commissions derived from a product which you subsequently cancel or cease to pay, and in consequence we are obliged to refund commissions paid to us, we reserve the right to charge you a fee to reimburse us for the amount of commission refunded.
You or we may terminate our authority to act on your behalf with immediate effect at any time, but the termination must be communicated in writing (to us at our usual business address) and cannot be backdated. The termination will be without prejudice to the completion of any transactions already initiated and you remain responsible for the payment of any fees and expenses incurred up to the date of termination, or to the date of completion of any transactions in progress, whichever is the later.
You may choose to pay in full for our services by means of a fee. Our standard fees are charged at a rate of €200 per hour plus VAT (if applicable). Alternatively, we may agree a flat or alternative fee structure with you depending on the service you have asked us to provide. Additional fees may be payable for complex cases or to reflect value, specialist skills or urgency. All fees will be agreed with you in advance. Where we receive recurring commission, this forms part of the remuneration for initial advice provided. In the event that you choose to pay in full for our services by means of a fee, if we receive commission from a product provider, this will be offset against the fee which we will charge you. Where the commission is greater than the fee due, the commission will become the amount payable to the firm unless an arrangement to the contrary is made.
We have listed on Appendix II below a sample of fees we charge for certain specialist services.
It is in your best interests that you review, on a regular basis, the products which we have arranged for you. As your circumstances change, your needs will change. You must advise us of those changes and request a review of the relevant policy so that we can ensure that you are provided with up to date advice and products best suited to your needs. Failure to contact us in relation to changes in your circumstances or failure to request a review may result in you having insufficient insurance cover and/or inappropriate investments.
It is the policy of our firm to avoid conflicts of interest in providing services to you. However, where an unavoidable conflict of interest arises we will advise you of this in writing before providing you with any service.
Our firm will exercise its legal rights to receive payments due to it from clients for services provided. Product producers may withdraw benefits or cover in the event of default on payments due under policies of insurance or other products arranged for you. We would refer you to policy documents or product terms for the details of such provisions.
We ask that you make any complaint against our firm, relating to services provided by us, in writing. We will acknowledge your complaint within 5 business days and we will fully investigate it. On completion of our investigation, we will provide you with a written report of the outcome. In the event that you are still dissatisfied with our handling of or response to your complaint, you are entitled to refer the matter to the Financial Services Ombudsman or the Pensions Ombudsman. A full copy of our complaints procedure is available on request.
GFA complies with the requirements of the Data Protection Acts, 1988 and 2003. The data which you provide to us will be held on a computer database and paper files for the purpose of arranging transactions on your behalf. The data will be processed only in ways compatible with the purposes for which it was given. You have the right to inspect copies of all entries in our books or computerised records relating to transactions with you. A fee may be charged for this request, and if so you will be notified in advance. We would also like to keep you informed of insurance, investment and any other services provided by us or associated companies with which we have a formal business arrangement; which we think may be of interest to you. We would like to contact you by way of letter, email or telephone call. If you do not wish to receive such marketing information please tick the box in the Terms of Business acknowledgement letter.
We are members of the Investor Compensation Scheme operated by the Investor Compensation Company Ltd. See below for details.
The Investor Compensation Act, 1998 provides for the establishment of a compensation scheme and the payment, in certain circumstances, of compensation to certain clients (known
as eligible investors) of authorised investment firms, as defined in that Act.
The Investor Compensation Company Ltd. (ICCL) was established under the 1998 Act to operate such a compensation scheme and our firm is a member of this scheme. Compensation may be payable where money or investment instruments owed or belonging to clients and held, administered or managed by the firm cannot be returned to those clients for the time being and where there is no reasonably foreseeable opportunity of the firm being
able to do so. A right to compensation will arise only:-
– If the client is an eligible investor as defined in the Act; and
– If it transpires that the firm is not in a position to return client money or investment instruments owned or belonging
If the client is an eligible investor as defined in the Act; and
– If it transpires that the firm is not in a position to return client money or investment
instruments owned or belonging to the clients of the firm; and
– To the extent that the client’s loss is recognised for the purposes of the Act.
Where an entitlement to compensation is established, the compensation payable will be the lesser of:-
– 90% of the amount of the client’s loss which is recognised for the purposes of the Investor Compensation Act, 1998; or
– Compensation of up to €20,000.
Life and Pensions: Irish Life, Canada Life, New Ireland, Zurich Life, Aviva Life and Pensions, Friends First, Phoenix, Standard Life, Caledonian Life, Acorn Life.
Deposits/ Investments: All of the above and additionally: Davy Select, Conexim, Quilter Cheviot, BCP Asset Management, KBC Bank, EBS(Deposit and Savings plans), Merrion Capital, Wealth Options, Investec, Cantor FitzGerald Stockbrokers Ltd, Permanent TSB (Deposit and Savings plans), Bespoke Investments, Leeds Building Society.
i. Conducting a Financial Fact-Find including our Initial Report with review of / recommendations on existing investment policies and/or loans € 500
ii. Cancelled Policy: Balance of commission that would have been payable for first year and or minimum €75 to administrate a cancellation at any stage during the life of the policy. N.B. In certain circumstances product providers may clawback a proportion of the commission paid to introducers such as ourselves if the policy is redeemed in the first three/five years. As our fee has effectively been reduced by any such clawback, you will be liable to refund us the amount of any clawback applied as a result of a policy cancellation.
iii. Broker Switch / Alteration: As per (ii) Cancelled Policy above.
iv. Claims handling Fees charged on case by case basis
v. Deposit Accounts Apart from any commission paid to us by a product producer, there is a standard admin. fee of €150 for the setting up of each deposit account with an Irish-based retail deposit Bank which does not necessarily include advice fee as per fee model schedule. For clients who wish to avail of our service for facilitating the opening of a EuroDeposit Account with a non Irish-based retail deposit Bank(eg. Deutsche Bank), there is a standard facility fee of €500 for the setting up of such a deposit account with each individual financial institution.In certain cases we may issue a separate Terms of Business outlining our fee structure for our Deposit Advisory Services.
vi. Mediation Services (excluding Debt Mediation) There is a standard non-refundable retainer fee of €500 and other fees(generally on a no foal / no fee Basis) will be agreed with you prior to commencing the provision of the relevant mediation service(s) you have retained
us to provide. Additional fees may be payable for complex cases or to reflect value, specialist skills or urgency.
Please note that the provision of this Mediation service does not currently require licensing, authorization or registration with the Central Bank of Ireland and, as a result, is not covered by the Central Bank of Ireland’s requirements designed to protect consumers or by a statutory compensation scheme.