Where to find reliable financial advice
As part of his sweeping pension reforms, Chancellor George Osborne pledged all savers will get “free impartial advice” from 2015.
However, with details of the advice pledge still sketchy, and several new rules due to come into force from next week, people approaching retirement may need financial advice sooner rather than later.
Here, Your Money looks at the websites on the market which will help make finding an independent financial adviser quicker and easier.
Unbiased boasts the most extensive list of financial advisers; with more than 24,000 advisers listed, you’re likely to find at least one you like. Searches can be easily refined by everything from advisory area to payment options to gender and location, but the profiles are written by the advisers themselves, making it sometimes difficult to suss out what they’re actually like.
On the bright side, Unbiased does verify the financial advisers listed are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). If you use an adviser that is not approved by the FCA, you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong.
Unbiased also features a number of tools and calculators, from useful budget calculators to more playful quizzes to calculate your “financial age”.
Established by the Personal Finance Society, the professional body that plays a leading role in setting standards for professionalism in financial advisers, Find an Advisor allows you to search by postcode, qualifications and the kind of advice you’re looking for.
Results are ranked by distance and will let you know an individual adviser’s contact information, whether they’re independent and how their business focus breaks down.
Founded in response to consumer research which suggested that many people are put off seeking financial advice because they don’t know where to go or who to trust, Find an Advisor also has guides on what to expect from your adviser.
Vouched For is the only site that asks former or current clients to rank their financial advisers. Like most sites you can search based on gender, qualifications and location -although their specialism search is less specific than Unbiased- and results will come back with a star rating and information about how long their average client has been with them.
The founders of Vouched For worked in the financial services but felt unable to give their friends and family reliable advice about who to trust; their website allows clients to describe their experiences (in good, and sometimes gruesome, detail) so that others can make informed decisions.
Vouched For does accept money for posting profiles, but while these profiles do appear higher in the search, whether an adviser has paid does not affect his or her rating. A strict comment vetting system also ensures the integrity of the system.
The IFA Centre is the trade association for independent financial advisers – if you’re looking for a truly impartial voice, it’s list of members could be a great help.
While its search functions stretch only as far as a list of members, embedded links mean you can jump right to the relevant websites and get investigating on your own. If you want a no-fuss list of places to start your search – with no interference from paid for rankings and minus the awkward corporate headshots – this is a great place to go.
The Wealth Management Association is a trade organisation representing 183 member firms from the investment community. It’s reach is limited to stockbrokers and wealth managers, but its easy-to-use website allows you to search by market and investment size.
Search results come back in list form; you can investigate further to reveal contact details and a bio with a short blurb.
A helpful FAQ includes explanations of how you’ll be charged, how to avoid boiler room scams and other pressing questions for first time investors (including the differences between discretionary, advisory and execution-only services).