Choose out what an independent financial adviser (IFA) performs and the many sorts of financial advice that are available so that you can find a competent financial adviser. This guide covers all you need to know about selecting a good financial adviser.

What kind of help can I get from a financial adviser?

For complicated financial goods, you should seriously consider receiving professional counsel so that you don’t wind up with something that isn’t right for you. These are the following:

Pensions and Investments
Insurance for both life and health
Planning with regard to taxes and inheritances
Mortgages (obtained through a broker) and equity withdrawal
Planning for long-term medical care

A financial consultant can search the market for assets and solutions that are matched to your circumstances, and they can also assist you in personally planning for the things you want to do in the future with the money you have.

Although it is possible to purchase complicated financial products without the assistance of a financial adviser, doing so can put your money in jeopardy.

For instance, if you are self-assured enough, you can use investment platforms that provide a variety of products, including stocks and shares Isas and self-invested personal pensions (Sipps), with cheaper fees. You can do this by using the internet.

Where can I look for a reputable financial advisor?



When searching for an IFA, it is of the utmost importance to do some comparison shopping. A excellent place to begin is with a comparison website; Unbiased and VouchedFor are the two largest in the industry.

You may narrow down a long list by using their criteria, which are based on areas of competence and reviews from previous customers. We strongly suggest that you set up appointments with at least three IFAs so that you may compare their services and choose which one can satisfy your requirements while offering the most bang for your buck.

If you do not require a face-to-face meeting with your financial advisor, you could save money by searching for one outside of your immediate area. Data from VouchedFor, for instance, demonstrates that the expenses of financial planning in South East England tend to be greater than those in Northern England.

The following tools and information are available to assist you in finding the most suitable advisor for your needs. It is in your best interest to compile a list of at least three potential financial advisors and give each of them a call before settling on a single one.

The registry maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) enables you to determine whether or not your adviser possesses the necessary authorization.
The Society of Later Life Advisers is a directory that allows users to seek for advisors who specialise in providing guidance to older adults.
A searchable directory of Personal Finance Society members who may possess credentials such as Chartered Financial Planner is provided by the Personal Finance Society (PFS).
A professional organisation for financial advisors is known as the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI). Make use of the Wayfinder feature on our website to look for financial planning companies in your area that have earned CISI accreditation.

You might also go through the Retirement Adviser Directory that is available on MoneyHelper.

Independent financial advice

There is a significant and meaningful distinction to be made between restricted and independent financial advisers.

If a consultant asserts that they are impartial, their recommendations must be:

based on a thorough examination of the market that was conducted without any interference from the companies producing the products

Model portfolios and hosting platforms

Advice that is limited

Either restricted advisers will concentrate on only one topic area, such as pensions, but will review the entirety of the market, or restricted advisers will propose investments from all providers, but only for a specific type of product, for example, only recommending unit trusts.

Other categories of restricted advisers may be able to offer guidance on more than one subject, but they will be restricted in the amount of service providers they can contact. Because of this, you should not expect to receive recommendations from all segments of the market. If you go to a restricted adviser, it is absolutely necessary for the adviser to provide you with a detailed explanation of the service that he or she is giving to you.

The majority of the time, simplified guidance services are computerised and focus on uncomplicated items like Isas.

However, as the same laws apply, advisers who offer a streamlined service are still held to the same standards for appropriate advice, prices, and professionalism as those who provide independent and restricted counsel.

Options besides from using financial advisers

MoneyHelper, the Citizens Advice Bureau, and Pension Wise (for anyone over the age of 50) are three organisations that offer free and objective financial advice.

On the other hand, guidance from an IFA is a type of service that will suggest purchasing a particular item on the basis of your individual circumstances. You may learn more about free guidance services, including those for debt, on this page. Guidance will provide you with information that will help you narrow down your options.


Investment platforms that offer a “do-it-for-me” option evaluate your comfort level with taking risks and then make recommendations based on the results of their algorithmic calculations, which are often a portfolio of funds. They function through smartphone applications or websites and rarely offer guidance on other issues, such as taxes or savings, despite the fact that they are typically more affordable than IFAs. There are some notable exemptions, such as the fact that Nutmeg will provide limited guidance over the phone for a cost of $575.

Which one is it, the Money Helpline?



Members of Which? Money also have access to a helpline that they may call to receive financial advice that is free and objective. Our team of experts has a combined experience in the financial services industry that exceeds one hundred years, so they are able to provide information on a wide variety of personal finance topics. These topics include investment opportunities, as well as insurance, care costs, tax, savings, and the process of seeking reimbursement after being a victim of a scam.

Financial adviser qualifications explained

Regardless of the type of financial advice they offer, every single financial adviser will be required to have a minimum certification that is equivalent to an undergraduate degree.

The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) level 4, which is roughly similar to the first year of a degree programme, is now required of all counsellors.

Appropriate Exam Standards (AES) were also developed by the Financial Services Skills Partnership. Awarding bodies make use of these standards when developing new qualifications.

IFAs are required to have qualifications in the following subject areas according to QCF level 4:

governance standards and morality
personal taxation based on investment principles and potential for risk
(Level 3) financial planning practise for pensions and retirement planning as well as financial protection planning

Additional requirements for advisors include the following:

Accredited personal financial planner

The Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment is the organisation that can certify individuals in the United Kingdom (CISI). Those who are interested in becoming certified financial planners are required to take and pass the CISI’s exam on financial planning and advice.

Only 22 percent of advisers were able to pass the exam, and only 8 percent were able to pass the requisite case study. This makes it perhaps the most difficult of the qualifications that we looked into.

In order to earn the qualification, you will need to examine a highly specialised case study in great detail.

financial advisor with a chartered designation

To become chartered, a financial adviser needs to demonstrate that they have at least five years of experience, in addition to passing at least four specialised exams, becoming a member of the Personal Finance Society (PFS), and passing the exams.

They are required to abide by a code of professional ethics and participate in a predetermined amount of ongoing professional development on an annual basis in order to maintain their membership in the PFS. In 2016, just sixty percent of people who took any of the six exams that were offered were successful.

The chartered seal is a quality mark that is highly esteemed in the fields of financial counselling as well as other professions.

Society for Advisors to Those in Later Life (SOLLA)

SOLLA is a non-examination certification that is designed for financial planners who focus on assisting customers who are getting close to retirement.

Instead, advisers need to make it a priority to keep their understanding of later-life financial planning at a high level and exhibit the ability to communicate clearly in one-on-one settings.


The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provides a further certification that should be pursued if you are looking for a consultant who strives to a standard that is recognised internationally.

An ‘at work’ evaluation of the adviser is required for the ISO22222 certificate. This evaluation is intended to gauge the adviser’s capacity to carry out their duties as a financial planner.

If an advisor possesses this certification, you can have confidence in their ability to fulfil their duty in accordance with a standard that is objectively measured.

The re-certification process for advisers takes place once each year, and they are evaluated on several elements of their practises every three years.

In order to obtain the ISO qualification, consultants are obligated to first sign an ethical code of conduct.

When looking for a financial counsel, what characteristics should I prioritise?

When selecting a financial adviser, it is important to know what questions to ask and what to look for. Our comprehensive guide will show you how.

1. Determine what it is that you require.

If you are in need of retirement guidance, it is likely in your best interest to seek the assistance of a financial consultant who specialises in pensions.

If you require a comprehensive financial plan, you should look for a financial adviser that provides the full range of services rather than one who specialises in a particular aspect of finance, such as investing advice.

2. Make sure you check their credentials.

Even while the legislation known as the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) mandates that all advisers must be certified to a particular degree, it is still a good idea to double check that they are. Be on the lookout for additional qualifications as well, since this will demonstrate that they have gone above and beyond.

3. Engage in price haggling

Don’t take as gospel the price that the advisor estimates you’ll have to pay. Talk to them about it if you believe that the amount that you are paying is too high. Learn more about the process of paying for financial advice by reading our guide.

4. Make sure you have it on paper.

In the event that something goes wrong, you should request a physical copy of the advice made by the advisor. If there is something that you are having trouble understanding, you should ask the advisor to explain it to you.

5. Make certain that it is an individualised service.

Make sure you are not receiving advice that is so general that it could apply to anyone; instead, inquire about the compatibility of the things that have been advised with your circumstances.

6. Ensure that you have the ability to develop a relationship with your advisor.

Because you are going to entrust this individual with one of the most essential aspects of your life – the state of your finances – it is imperative that they are a good fit for you.

7. Make sure you do your homework before hand.

This will save time during your initial appointment with the advisor by preparing them for who you are and what to expect from you. Make sure you get the form by asking your advisor to send it to you before your first meeting.

What should I expect when I’ve chosen a financial advisor?

An initial consultation will take place, during which the consultant will spend around one hour learning about your needs and objectives and describing the many options available to you. They should also provide you with something that is known as a “important facts paper,” which will detail both their prices and what you can anticipate from your working relationship with them.

There is a possibility that the fees will change based on the nature of your inquiry and the sum of money involved. Check out our specialised guide for more details on the various costs involved.

A “fact discover” will be performed by a financial adviser in the event that you are content to make use of their services. This gives the adviser information about your financial situation, ambitions, and risk tolerance, which enables them to make product recommendations that are appropriate for you.

After this, you will be presented with a comprehensive financial plan that will include any product recommendations as well as any tax benefits that are applicable to your situation.

The plan that a financial adviser has proposed will be carried out once you have indicated that you accept the suggestions made by that adviser as well as the fee associated with using his or her services. You might be given the choice to participate in an ongoing evaluation.

What happens if everything goes wrong?

The Financial Conduct Authority is in charge of regulating financial advisers, and as a result, you have recourse to the Financial Ombudsman Service in the event that something goes wrong with the advice that you receive (FOS).

This indicates that you have the ability to file a complaint with the FOS if you are dissatisfied with any advice you have been given or if you believe that you have been mis-sold, and the FOS will take the appropriate action – for example, ordering your adviser to pay compensation – in response to your complaint.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has the authority to levy fines against financial advisers who have violated regulations.

Unless the poor performance of your investments was caused by poor advice provided by a regulated Independent Financial Advisor who has subsequently gone out of business, you will not be paid if the value of your investments decreases or if the firm in which you hold shares declares bankruptcy.

There is a limit of £85,000 per person and per product that the Financial Services Compensation Scheme will compensate for investments. You don’t need to employ a claims management business because you can file your claim for free and directly online.