Questions to ask a financial adviser


No matter whether you’ve been investing for years, or are right at the beginning of your journey, a financial adviser may be able to help you navigate your way through turbulent times. Equally, getting professional help doesn’t only apply to investing. It can help you with any element of your finances, including getting a mortgage, building a pension, working towards retirement goals, inheritance, and so on.

After all, financial planning isn’t just about money. It’s about creating a plan for your life. It’s about setting personal goals – and working out how you are going to reach those targets. If you’re not quite sure what decisions to take, an adviser can guide you in the right direction. Moreover, an adviser can really come into his or her own when it comes to more complex financial issues which need more in-depth analysis and understanding to resolve.

But how do you find one, and what do you need to ask to ensure you get the right one for your needs?

How to find a financial adviser

Recommendations from friends, relatives and colleagues can be a good start point. There are also helpful databases, such as Unbiased and VouchedFor which have lists of qualified financial advisers. With such sites, you can tailor your search by region, or by the type of advice you require – such as someone well qualified in investing and pensions, tax, or mortgages.

You may also be able to specify a female adviser if you feel you’d be more comfortable with that. It’s vitally important to find a professional you are completely happy with, as you’ll be giving them access to your whole financial situation.

What qualifications do you have?

Someone providing advice on pensions and investments must have, as a minimum, a ‘QCF (Qualifications and Credit Framework) Level 4.’

But many advisers will have taken additional exams, and especially if they have specialised in a particular area. The best qualified are known as ‘chartered planners’ or ‘certified planners.’

Don’t be afraid to ask your adviser details about the qualifications they have. You want to be sure you’ve got a well-qualified adviser before trusting them with your money.

What am I going to pay?

A financial adviser must tell you how much they charge before they take you on as a client.

While some may charge by the hour, others might charge a fixed fee for a percentage of your pension, pot, for example.

You might not be given an exact amount that you’ll pay, but you should be given a good estimate.

As a very rough guide, you could expect to pay around £200 an hour.

Are you ‘independent’ or ‘restricted?

An adviser is required to tell you whether they are an ‘independent financial adviser,’ which means they offer a range of products from across the whole of the market. This type of adviser can offer you the best products available. By contrast, a ‘restricted’ adviser can only recommend certain types of investments and products from a limited number of providers.

What services do you offer?

Typically, advisers will give you a written financial plan or report with an overview of your current situation, as well as recommendations to help you reach your targets. Services could include arranging mortgages, investment planning, pension planning and estate planning. If you require advice in a particular area, check the adviser is able to provide the service you need.

Can I meet you?

Before signing up to a service, find out if you can meet your adviser. Many will offer a first consultation for free. This meeting will usually cover your financial goals, and how the adviser can help you work towards those. Ideally this will be face-to-face.

If you can, try to meet a selection of ‘possibles’ before choosing the right one for you. You’ll know when you’ve found a good fit.

What’s your approach to investment?

It’s worth finding out if the adviser has different strategies depending on your attitude to risk. Discuss their methods and expertise to ensure you understand what is happening with your money.

How often will you assess my situation and review my portfolio?

You need to be sure that your financial adviser will stay on top of your investments and understand what is – and isn’t – working. It’s important they regularly review their recommendations.

How can I keep tabs on my money?

Find out whether you can use technology, such as apps, to keep track of your finances, or whether your adviser would prefer a more traditional approach, based mainly on phone calls and face-to-face meetings.

Make sure this fits with your preferences.

What is your performance record?

This can feel like a tricky question to ask, but you need to work out how successful the adviser has been with previous clients.  After all, your reason for paying them is to make your money go further.

On, you can read client reviews.

Can I speak to any existing clients?

For the most honest feedback on a financial adviser, it’s worth finding out if you can speak to  a current – or former – client. That way, you can get some real ‘insider knowledge’ on what that person (or firm) is like, helping you reach a more informed decision over whether to go ahead.

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