What does a good financial adviser look like?


If you’ve realised that managing your own money isn’t your bag and you’d like to engage a financial adviser, there are a number of things to bear in mind.

Type of adviser

Firstly, you need to ask yourself which kind of financial adviser you need. Do you need a more generic adviser who can help with investing, mortgages, tax and more general financial planning? Or do you need more specialist help, like a dedicated pensions and retirement adviser? If it were my money, pensions and retirement is the area that contains the most complexity and where a professional adviser can add most value.

Once you identify the kind of help you really need, then there are broadly two choices you need to make. Do you want a small, local adviser, or rely on a larger national firm? Until relatively recently, most financial advisers tended to be small firms serving the local community with perhaps two or three professionals.

Nowadays, with so much demand for high-quality advice, larger companies now operate on a national basis, with significant central resources, strong backing and the latest technology serving a network of local advisers. There’s no real differences between the two options insofar as it will depend on the chemistry you have with the actual adviser you end up with. There are a couple of useful national adviser finder services:

If you get on well with them and trust them to represent your best interests, they have a much better chance at delivering the results you want from them.

What to look for in an adviser

What you’re really looking for in an adviser is:

  • Are they fully regulated by the FCA and suitably qualified?
  • Do they have specialist skills in the area you need help with, e.g. retirement planning?
  • Are they relatively close to you so you can stay in touch?
  • Do they have access to the best and most suitable financial products in the market?
  • Do they have access to the latest resources that help them give you best advice?
  • Are they in it for the long term? This could be a long relationship.
  • Is the chemistry good between you?

And finally, do you trust them and the firm they represent? Given the above set of criteria and the relative ease of finding financial advisers either convenient to your home or office,  it will really pay in the long run to meet and chat with a few and see and form an opinion. There’s usually no real rush to make a decision, so make sure you’re comfortable with an adviser, as you’re likely to stick with them for decades.

Retirement expertise

Also, it’s easy to select an adviser on your current circumstances and forget about some of the challenges ahead. Retirement usually figures strongly in later life so ask your adviser about their skills and experience in pension planning.

Retirement planning is where a professional financial adviser really earns their keep, due to the huge complexity in pensions, they are instrumental in advising you towards a successful and comfortable later life experience.

“By it’s very nature, investing for your retirement is a long term objective, and you will need to adjust your plans along the way as your circumstances change. Having an adviser who knows you and what you are trying to achieve can make the difference between a good retirement and a great one”, says Tony Clark, Senior Propositions Manager at St. James’s Place.

This article was sponsored by St. James’s Place.

Photo by Jozef Polc on Canva