Are you confused about how to find the right financial planner? It can be tricky, especially if you are looking for the first time.

A financial planner can provide you with advice and guidance, to help protect you and your family, at every stage of your life. You might be concerned about paying off your student loan or finding the right mortgage deal. If you have kids, you might want to set up an investment for them, or you could be worrying about how you’d cover the mortgage payments if you were unable to work. At some point, you’ll want to start planning for your dream retirement, or if you’ve already saved up a healthy pot, you’ll need to turn your attention to your estate and inheritance plans.

Whatever stage you’re at, an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) is someone who’s qualified to offer guidance and advice on the best course of action to protect your financial situation right now, help you to make the most of your money while you’re earning and make sure you’re on track to achieve your future goals.

Make sure they’re authorised to give financial advice

Get a recommendation

Many people choose an independent financial adviser based on a personal recommendation from a friend or family member. This is a good place to start., but it’s important to do your own research too. Make sure they’re authorised to give financial advice (more on this below), check their qualifications and experience, and make sure they’re specialists in the field(s) you require.

Check they’re authorised

All financial advisers must be authorised before providing financial advice to the general public. Check the Financial Conduct Authority’s Financial Services Register to be confident you’re dealing with a genuine adviser. If they don’t appear on the register, you won’t be protected if things go wrong.

Check their qualifications

Experience is important – you obviously want an adviser who’s knowledgeable on their subject and has put their knowledge into practice by helping clients in a similar position to you.

It’s useful to ask what areas of financial advice they specialise in. While most financial advisers offer advice on a range of topics, some will specialise in specific areas such as pensions or later life planning. So, if your need is related to a particular area of financial planning, make sure they have the necessary qualifications and experience.

Ask to speak to one of their existing customers

Check their experience

As with most important life decisions, putting things off doesn’t help. The sooner you get advice, the more options you’re likely to have. It’s far better to plan ahead instead of waiting until you’ve reached retirement and your options have already become more limited. It also means you can get a professional opinion on some of the issues you might face instead of making decisions based on what you read about in the press.

For example, the upper capital limit for care costs is currently just £23,250. This means if you have more than this, you may be asked to pay the full cost of charges for your care services. Many people who are worried about the increasing costs of care have elected to give away large sums to their children to take their capital below that threshold. But a well-structured financial plan can help determine the most cost-effective solution than simply giving money away. For example, we can arrange insurance such as an ‘immediate needs annuity’ or ‘immediate care plan’ that will automatically cover the cost of care fees for the rest of a person’s life in exchange for a one-off lump sum payment.

Ask for references

A good way to find out how an adviser works with their clients, is to ask their clients. Asking to speak to one of their existing customers will indicate the level and quality of service you can expect to receive.

Ask them about the type of people they advise and check they match your profile. If you’re wealthy, you should look for a financial adviser who understands the more complex and demanding requirements typical of a ‘high-net worth’ individual.

What do they charge?

Advisers who specialise in protection insurance, which includes products like life insurance and critical illness cover, will receive commission on the products the client takes out. Mortgage advisers are fee-based, meaning you will pay them a fixed amount for their service, while pension and investment advisers will have a range of charging structures depending on the nature of the advice given and whether the client contracts with them to receive ongoing servicing.

In any event, a financial adviser worth their salt will be completely transparent about their fees and provide a full outline of services and costs in writing and in advance of carrying out any work for you.

You need to feel comfortable talking to them

What about ‘restricted’ versus IFA?

You may have heard the term ‘restricted’ being used to describe an adviser. This means they are only able to recommend products and tax wrappers from a limited panel of providers, whereas IFAs can make recommendations from the whole of the market.

Do you feel comfortable with them?

If they’ve ticked all the other boxes, the final consideration is how well you both get on. For your adviser to be able to help you set and achieve your financial goals, you will need to be completely open and honest with them – and if you don’t feel comfortable talking to them, this will make their job a lot harder.

When you find the right adviser, you’ll have a trusted partner and financial mentor by your side for many years.

Get in touch

To speak to one of our team, arrange an appointment or find out more, call 0800 915 0000, or alternatively use our contact form here.