Finding Good Financial Advisors

How Can I Find a Good Financial Advisor?

A financial advisor can be a valuable partner in your effort to improve your financial circumstances. Whether you’re trying to build a financial reserve for the future, develop a debt management program, or maximise the value of your investments or clear debts, a qualified financial advisor can help you to achieve your goals. To ensure that you receive sound advice, look for an advisor who represents a reputable, FSA regulated financial firm.

Qualifications of a Financial Advisor

Whilst it may be easy to find a financial advisor, finding a good advisor that you can rely on can be more challenging. You can find financial advisors by searching in the telephone book, by visiting banks or building societies or by searching for qualified professionals online. Financial services websites offer access to trusted advisors who can provide information about their education, training, areas of expertise and credentials. Credible advisors are willing to disclose their fees and to provide references from other clients.

Some financial advisors work on behalf of banks, insurance companies, mortgage lenders or other financial services providers. When you work with an advisor who is affiliated with a financial institution, bear in mind that this professional may be biased toward the firm’s products. For instance if you seek advice on investments through an advisor affiliated with a specific bank, the advisor will most likely recommend his or her bank’s investment funds over any other alternatives.

Independent financial advisors, or IFAs, work individually with clients rather than working on behalf of an institution. IFAs may have specialised experience or training in investments, retirement planning, mortgages, taxes or other areas. An IFA may work with individuals or businesses to help them make the most of their income and increase their financial stability.

IFAs may be certified on a number of levels. Most entry level advisors have a Certificate in Financial Planning, whilst the most advanced advisors have Certified Financial Planner or Chartered Financial Planner status. Advisors have a duty to advance their knowledge of financial planning and continue their professional development, even after they have achieved the highest level of certification in their field.

The Financial Services Authority, or FSA, is an independent agency that regulates financial advice in the UK. Advisors who counsel clients on investments, mortgages or insurance must observe the FSA’s ethical standards and maintain a high level of professionalism in their transactions. The FSA maintains a register of authorised firms and individual advisors. An IFA must be affiliated with an FSA regulated financial firm in order to be authorised. If you have doubts about an advisor’s credibility, you may verify his or her status with the FSA.

Choosing an Advisor

Once you’ve sourced a number of qualified financial advisors, schedule meetings to discuss your goals and expectations. The advisor you choose should have a professional background that corresponds with your needs. If you are searching for a financial advisor to assist you with retirement or estate planning, choose a consultant who has established a strong reputation in these areas. If you are looking for an investment advisor, look for a professional who has the credentials and expertise to counsel you on this aspect of money management.

Finding a good financial advisor may require meeting with several professionals to identify the best consultant for your circumstances. Talk with a candidate about his or her training, education, level of certification and professional affiliations. Ask the advisor whether he or she works on a commission only basis or charges a fee for services. A qualified advisor will discuss your needs and evaluate your financial status before making any recommendations about the appropriate strategies.