How to find a good Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) – 5 Top Tips

Article by Phil

5 Top Tips to find a good IFA and what to check for.

  1. Ask your friends and family for a recommendation
  2. Have a look at their independent online reviews
  3. Have a good look at their website – do you like the look of them – review their client testimonials – and find out if they are actually Independent!
  4. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of a Free Initial Meeting to see if you like them
  5. Finally, before you go ahead, please check the FCA Register to make sure they are authorised

Read on for more detail about each of the 5 Top Tips…………….

  1. Ask your friends and family for a recommendation
  2. Simple advice really, especially if you’ve not used an Independent Financial Adviser before. If your friends or family have used someone and are happy with them and trust them, chances are you will. It doesn’t always work though, sometimes your friends or family might just think they are getting good advice, but they might be with an “old school” adviser, who might not suit you. So, apply the rest of the Top Tips to see if the recommended Financial Adviser passes the test.

  3. Have a look at their independent online reviews
  4. In today’s online world, any good Financial Adviser will have reviews of their service posted by their clients. If they haven’t, you might want to ask why not.
    There are lots of Financial Adviser review websites, but two of the most popular are Vouched For and Feefo. You can also have a look a firms Google Reviews when you search for their website. Reviews from these kinds of third party review websites will probably be genuine, as most have systems in place to authenticate the reviewers, to make sure it’s not just the firm putting their own reviews on!

  5. Have a good look at their website – do you like the look of them – review their client testimonials – and find out if they are Independent!
  6. A Financial Advisors website will tell you a lot about them and their firm. A few things to look at would include their Meet the Team page. How many Advisers are there? Do you like the look of them? Do you want to deal with a big firm or a small firm? Do you want a Local firm or a National firm? Are you looking for a male adviser, or a female adviser? Etc.
    You might also be able to see their qualifications, which could be important as there are different levels of qualifications.
    All Independent Financial Advisers who are authorised (see Top Tip 5), will always be fully qualified to help you with the most common areas of advice. including investments, pensions and protection. But there are certain areas of advice which require specialist qualifications and authorisation, for example, a common one at the moment, is being qualified to advise on Defined Benefit (Final Salary) pension transfers. If this is the specific type of advice you need, you must ask whether the Financial Adviser is qualified in this area, otherwise they won’t be able to help you. Or even worse, you may get passed over to a third party to deal with you.
    You might also get information about the level of experience an Independent Financial Adviser has from their website. For example, how long have they been doing the job? This might have a bearing on your decision to use them, or might not.
    What you must find out is whether they are Independent Financial Advisers or not.
    Independent Financial Advisers are exactly that, independent. They have access to all the different products and product providers in the market. Not all Financial Advisers are independent, some are Restricted. Restricted means that they can only advise and recommend a restricted range of products from a restricted range of product providers. Often that will be the company they work for. It’s very difficult to put forward a case for using a Restricted Financial Adviser, unless you know exactly what you want and who you want it from (and it’s something they can advise on). The majority of people are not in this category, so please make sure that your Financial Advisor is Independent.
    One other thing that you might want to look out for, is access to technology. With some firms, you can get access to live information about your investments online, even via Apps for your phone, so if that’s important to you, check that the Adviser has access to this kind of technology.

  7. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of a Free Initial Meeting to see if you like them
  8. Once you’ve done your research, contact your chosen adviser and ask for an initial meeting. The vast majority of Independent Financial Advisers offer a free initial consultation, to meet you and find out what you are looking for. At this initial meeting, they should also give you an idea about the cost of their services (a little more about cost later).
    The most important thing you will get from the initial meeting is a sense of whether you “like” the Adviser. Did you get on with them? Did they answer your questions? Were they too pushy? Did they talk your language? Only you will know if they made you feel comfortable. Your relationship with your Independent Financial Adviser is likely to be long term and they will be dealing with your money, so you need to feel comfortable.
    You don’t have to spend time meeting 3, 4 or 5 different Advisers, but if you didn’t like the first Adviser, have another look around and arrange to meet another one. Do not ever feel under any pressure to use a Financial Adviser just because they came out to see you once. You are the client and you must be happy with who you are going to be dealing with.

  9. Finally, before you go ahead, check the FCA Register to make sure they are authorised
  10. After you’ve done all your research and met a Financial Adviser that you like and get along with, please just do one last important thing. Check the Financial Conduct Authority website to make sure that they are authorised.
    It’s really easy to do. Just type in the name of the firm, which will be on the Business Card the Financial Adviser has given you and the firms name should show on the Register as “Status – Authorised”. You can also type in the Independent Financial Advisers name and you will see the same result “Status – Authorised”.
    If you can’t find either the firm or the Adviser on the FCA Register, or if it says anything other than “Status – Authorised”, you really need to ask why not, and there really is no good answer to the question why not! Having said that, you must be absolutely certain that you are searching for the right firm and Financial Adviser, which is one of the reasons that they will have given you their Business Card. This is a day one, first meeting, fundamental rule for all Independent Financial Advisers. They must give you their Business Card, which contains all the information you require to verify their authorisation status. If you haven’t been given a Business Card, that’s another bad sign!
    Please don’t get caught out by a scam.

  11. Last but not least – what is the cost of the Independent Financial Adviser?
  12. Cost has not been included in the 5 Top Tips to find a good Independent Financial Adviser, because cheapest isn’t always best, is it.
    However, it is important to be comfortable that you are not being over charged for Financial Advice and this article How much do Independent Financial Advisers charge for Advice? might be helpful in giving you some ideas about typical charges and the different types of charges for advice.
    For more information about Christina Clegg Financial Planning Services please visit our website  or call us on 01282 614444.
    Thanks for reading and we hope you found these Top Tips useful.
    Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Christina Clegg Financial Planning Services Limited is entered on the Financial Services Register  under reference 735704.

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