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How to Choose a Financial Adviser

Choosing a financial adviser may seem like a daunting task and it can be hard to know where to start.  Our article will give you some guidance on how to go about choosing the right financial adviser for you.

Leaf Financial Advisers Ltd. - Trusted Financial Planners

The importance of choosing the right financial advisor

Choosing the right financial advisor in the UK is no easy task, as there are so many options available. Knowing how to choose a financial advisor can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need to help you make an informed decision about who to trust with your financial future.

We will cover topics such as what to look for in a financial advisor, the different types of services they offer, and how to ensure you’re getting the best advice.

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Think about what type of financial adviser you need

The first step in choosing a financial advisor is to ask yourself what kind of financial advice you need. There are a variety of types of financial advice and which one you will need will depend on your individual situation. If you are unsure then going for an “Independent Financial Adviser” is a good place to start.

There are many different types of financial advice and as such different types of financial advisers who specialise in certain areas or undertake certain types of specialist work. Most mainstream financial matters, such as setting up a pension, can be handled by most financial advisers. If you have a large amount to invest then you may prefer to select specialist wealth advisers, or if you have a complex defined benefit pension then you may want to talk to an adviser who specialises in the area of defined benefit pensions.

If you are unsure if you need a certain type of financial adviser then it’s often best to start with looking for an Independent Financial Adviser, who will likely be able to help you or give you guidance on where to go to find more suitable advice for your situation.

After you know what type of adviser, make a shortlist of those who can help

Once you know what kind of financial advice you need, you can start to create a shortlist of advisers that seem like they would be a match for what you want and need. If they need to have a particular expertise (such as being able to advise in defined benefit pensions) then you will be focusing just on the one who can help, and this may lead to a much shorter list to work on.

Once you have created a list of those that can help you can start to research on which one could be the right one for you. Once you have whittled it down to a few favourites you can then begin to focus your research more on them and possibly speaking to them.

Ways to search for and find a financial advisor

Once you have worked out what type of financial adviser you may need, and it is likely to be an then you can start to search for advisers that may be suitable for you. There are a variety of ways to search for a financial adviser, both online and in the physical world. Recommendations from friends or online are a good place to start or a simple google search to get a list of advisers in your area that you can start to work through. Please see our dedicated article on “how to find a financial adviser” for a more in-depth discussion on how to go about actually finding a local financial adviser.

Research your shortlist of advisors

There are many features that you may want to see in your financial adviser. Here are some suggestions on what to look for in a financial advisors, although everyone is different and it is likely that you will have further requirements for your own situation and needs.

Background and experience

It can be useful to find out some information about the potential advisers and their firms. Information such as how long they have been in business, how many clients they have and what type of clients they usually deal with. This can help give an idea of the level of experience they have and how much attention they will be able to dedicate to you. You can often find out information on the background of the firm or adviser simply by asking the adviser or looking at their details available online, either on their own website or on others that may catalogue financial advisers.

Next, take a look at their experience. Do they have previous experience in advising clients in the same situation as yours? It’s important to ensure that your financial adviser has an understanding of your financial goals and objectives and has the skills and experience to help you achieve them.

What are their charges?

Financial Advisers will charge for most of their services, with the days of earning their money from commission being long gone. Seeing how much potential advisers charge can be a key part of the decision on which adviser to choose. The cost of the advice shouldn’t be the first and only thing that you look at, but it can be an important part of the overall decision.

Some firms like us display their prices, others prefer not to (presumably to encourage you to call and enquire further). However you find out what the charges are make sure they are able to justify and explain the costs and explain how they are built up. Transparency is important and you should be wary of any firm (financial adviser or not) who is not honest and upfront about their charges.

Choosing a local or remote financial adviser

These days with the increasing use of video conferencing such as Skype, Teams or Zoom, you may want to use the services of a remote financial adviser who you do not physically see face to face. This will naturally broaden your search to the whole of the UK although it will also limit you to those that offer this specific type of service (as many IFAs may only deal with people face to face and not remotely). So if you are happy to receive advice remotely then you may have more options when working out who the best adviser is for you.

However, there is still something to be said for financial advice given in person and many believe that it leads to better, more informed conversations. At Leaf Financial Advisers we like to meet clients in their own homes, as we find that this leads to a relaxed conversation which can lead to better advice; yet we are also happy to have an online only relationship – the importance is that the client (you) has the advice delivered in the best way for them. If you would prefer to look for an online only adviser, then it may be worth talking to some local advisers as well, just to make sure that you are not missing out on anything.

What type of clients do they usually work with?

There are a variety of different clients who will naturally have different problems that need to be addressed. For example, you may find that a financial adviser deals almost exclusively with overseas clients, elderly clients, high net worth individuals or families and as such focus on the type of work that these clients tend to need. Older high net worth individuals are likely to need different types of advice than a young family just starting out on their financial planning journey.

There are a variety of different clients who will naturally have different problems that need to be addressed. You will find that financial adviser sometimes specialise in certain areas, such as dealing with overseas clients, high net worth individuals or specialised areas such as defined benefit pensions.

If they do not work with the type of client that you are then they can be struck off your list.

Check their qualifications, authorisation and insurance

One of the most important steps is to check out a potential advisers credentials. Find out what qualifications and experience they have. Look for Financial Advisor qualifications such as the Chartered Financial Planner status or the Certified Financial Planner certification. You should also ask if they have any additional qualifications specific to your area of interest, such as the CISI Wealth Manager qualification.

Make sure you check that they have adequate insurance in place and that they have a complaints procedure in place should you be unhappy with the advice they provide.

Once you have identified potential financial advisers who specialise in the area you are looking for advice in, it’s important to check that they are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA regulates all financial services firms, including financial advisers, in the UK. This is to ensure that they are providing appropriate advice and are following strict rules when it comes to handling your money.

Reviews and recommendations

Asking friends and family for recommendations is a good way to get some trusted feedback and insight into what an adviser may offer and what the quality of their service is like.  However, make sure you remember that everyone is different, even in the same family, and people will have different views on what constitutes a good service or what they would look for and value in an adviser.

You should also read reviews and testimonials from former clients, and look into the company’s reputation.  Reviews may be found on the advisers own websites or places such as Google Business Profile.  Make sure you also check out the Financial Services Register to see if they are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.  

Meet with the advisers

Once you have done your research and you have narrowed down your list, it’s time to meet with the advisers you’ve shortlisted and see if they are a good fit for you.  Although you can gather a lot of information before you met with an adviser, there are somethings that can only be gleaned from a face to face meeting.

Consider their approach to risk, their experience with dealing with situations like yours, and make sure you are comfortable with their strategies for investing your money and manging your finances. Finally, it’s a good idea to get a sense of their communication style. Ask how often you can expect updates from them, and how regularly you will be able to contact them with questions or for advice.  If you don’t feel confident that your financial adviser is going to provide the right advice for your needs then it’s best to look elsewhere.

Choosing a financial adviser in Bristol

If you are looking for a financial adviser in Bristol, whether you are in Westbury, Stoke Bishop, Bradley Stoke or even Bath, then you have a good number of choices of quality financial advisers to choose from. The same principles apply when choosing a financial adviser in Bristol as it does anywhere else in the country. Select a short list of those that you think can help you, research them to reduce the list down then get in touch to see if they seem like a good fit for you.

Many advice firms in Bristol are located in the centre or nearby in places such as Clifton, St Andrews or Cotham. Some firms, such as ourselves, offer free consultations to have an introductory, no string attached, chat about what they can offer, how the advice process would work and how much they are likely to charge. We offer free consultations in the comfort of your own home and also in the evenings and weekends, although not all financial advisers are so generous with their time.   Please get in touch if you would like to find out more.

For those living in Bristol, there are many great Financial Advisors available. Before making your decision, be sure to conduct thorough research on each potential Financial Advisor and make sure you choose someone who is qualified, experienced and reputable.

Keep checking if they are the right adviser

Once you have met with the advisers and you have chosen one, it’s important to keep in mind that you should review your situation and your relationship with your adviser on a regular basis; no matter which financial adviser you have chosen or why. This ensures that your financial adviser remains the right fit for you and your financial situation. It is also important to ensure that your Financial Advisor is up-to-date on the latest changes in the industry and tax laws.

Regular reviews can help to ensure that your Financial Advisor is knowledgeable and prepared for any changes that may affect your investments. Additionally, by staying up to date with reviews, it can help to ensure that the advice given to you is always relevant and tailored to your needs. At these reviews, it is also important to ensure that the advice you are receiving is still working in your favour. If your goals have changed or your investment strategy needs to be modified, then you should discuss this with your Financial Advisor and make any necessary changes. Reviewing your situation and relationship with your Financial Advisor regularly can help to ensure that you are making the best financial decisions for yourself and that your adviser is offering you the right advice.

Final Thoughts on choosing a financial adviser

Good financial advice can be very valuable, and its important to make sure that you choose the right financial adviser for you and your situation.  As such it’s probably worth spending the time to research the right adviser.  By deciding on what type financial adviser you need and then understanding what type and quality of service each is likely to provide, you can hopefully end up with a few to choose between.  Then they can be narrowed down by getting in touch with each for a chat to ensure that they are a good fit for your needs.  Make sure that you ask any potential financial adviser questions about their qualifications, experience and the types of advice they can provide alongside how they charge.

If you would like to chat to a financial adviser we offer a free consultation and are always happy to chat – please get in touch on 01173 823 823 or

01173 823 823