A few weeks, the North American Reunion of University of Oxford graduates was held in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria. It was a two-day affair attended by some 800 people. In typical English fashion, it was a class act all the way complete with what seemed like unlimited champagne and for some unexplained reason, lots of health food items.

At a luncheon, I sat next to a man who did financial planning from a prominent London accounting firm. He advised me that just a week before, the British Standards Institution launched a new standard for financial planning. "It was targeted at ethical behavior, competences, and experience," he said. The aim of the new standard, he explained, is to raise service levels for consumers, but the problem, he felt, is that it would only add to the complicated matter of what should go into selecting a financial advisor in the first place. So, he unearthed some things that a consumer should know regarding such financial advisors. It can equally apply on this side of the pond.

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