How to choose a financial adviser

Follow these steps to find a financial adviser

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Finding good financial advice can be daunting, but you can get a lot of good free advice from the following three places, which are approved or set up by the Government.

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The Money Advice Service website is good on a whole range of issues – see moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

Once on the site, search “adviser fees” for a guide to what financial advice costs.

For questions about pensions, try the excellent Pensions Advisory Service on its very helpful helpline (0300 123 1047), or pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk.

Pension Wise is for people over 50 who need advice about the freedom to cash in pensions.

Start with its website (pensionwise.gov.uk) then call 0300 330 1001 to book an appointment for one-to-one telephone or face-to-face advice.

In addition, the Which? Money Helpline comes with Which? membership. It costs £1 for a month’s trial and £10.75 a month thereafter. Search “money helpline” at which.co.uk. Regulated professional financial advice will cost more. Use these three filters to find a top adviser.

1 INDEPENDENT

Always pick an independent financial adviser. Some who specialise in just one area – like annuities – will call themselves “whole of market” rather than “independent”. Avoid any adviser who is restricted. They can only sell you some products.

2 CERTIFIED

The very best qualified advisers are chartered or certified financial planners. Sometimes a firm is chartered but not all its individuals are – though they will normally be working towards that status. They will be more expensive, but to a great extent you get what you pay for.

3 FEES

Some advisers take a percentage of the money you invest upfront and then a smaller percentage every year. I call that a tax. Avoid them and pick an adviser who charges a fixed fee or a fee per hour.

Find advisers who fulfil these rules using a website like unbiased.co.uk or vouchedfor.co.uk – both allow you to search for advisers that are local to you.

Or try newcomer adviserbook.co.uk, which lists all regulated financial advice firms. All three show who is independent and with some you can specify qualifications and charges.

Most advisers give a free initial session. Don’t be afraid to say no at the end of it if you don’t like them.

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