A Checklist for Finding the Right Financial Adviser

Managing your money can be a huge responsibility and it is likely that there will be times in your life where you need guidance. Luckily, that is where financial planners and advisers come in. They can help with a range of different things, including pensions and planning for retirement, investing or saving money, what to do with a lump sum of money such as a redundancy payment or an inheritance or advice when your life changes for example, you’re starting a family, getting divorced or you’ve been widowed.

However, when you are looking for someone to provide this advice, it is important to choose a financial adviser who is both experienced and knowledgeable. We have compiled a checklist of what to look out for when making this important decision. 


What kind of financial adviser are they? 

Financial advisers assess your circumstances and any financial plans you already have and then use that information to recommend products to help you meet your needs. There are two kinds of financial adviser: 

  • Independent financial advisers (IFAs). These give unbiased advice about the whole range of financial products from all the different companies available 
  • Restricted advisers give advice on a limited range of products. They may specialise in one area or they may only offer advice on products offered by a limited number of companies. 

You should consider what you need and make your decision based on this.  


Are they qualified and registered? 

You should make sure your financial adviser has the correct qualifications, which are: 

  • Level 4 or above of the national Qualifications and Credit Framework 
  • A Statement of Professional Standing (SPS). This means they have signed up to a code of ethics and have completed at least 35 hours of professional training each year. SPS certificates have to be renewed annually. 


All financial advisers should also be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority* (FCA). This ensures they are up to the right standard and you are protected if you are not happy with the service you receive. You can check whether a financial adviser is registered using the Financial Services Register*. 


Are they chartered? 

Chartered financial planner status is an exclusive title only awarded to firms that meet rigorous criteria relating to professionalism and capability. All chartered firms commit to a code of ethics, reinforcing the highest standards of professional practice in their business dealings. A chartered title is not simply recognition for passing exams but brings with it a number of serious obligations. 


The title Chartered financial planners is a public declaration that the advice given by that financial adviser is: 

  • Of the highest quality 
  • Based solely on the needs of their clients 
  • Provided by someone fully qualified to provide that advice 

You can read more about what it means to be chartered on our website. 


How can I prepare for the first meeting? 

Citizens Advice* has compiled some useful tips on how to prepare for a first meeting with a financial adviser: 

  • Firstly, check that the adviser you are seeing is qualified to give you the advice you need 
  • Take notes so that you have a clear record of what was said at the meeting 
  • Ask lots of questions and make sure you understand everything you are told 
  • Take time to think about any decisions or to compare products with another adviser. You don’t have to sign up for anything on the spot 
  • Be prepared to answer questions honestly. A financial adviser will ask you lots of personal questions about your financial plans and personal circumstances so that they can recommend the most suitable products for you 
  • Check that your personal information is kept confidential, and find out whether it is used for marketing purposes. 


This article is for information only and must not be considered as financial advice. We always recommend that you seek independent financial advice before making any financial decisions. Investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invested.


*Please be advised by clicking this link you are leaving the gpfm financial planners page. 


About gpfm 

gpfm are an independent financial planning company dedicated to the provision of personal, professional and objective-driven advice for our clients. We have been awarded the Chartered Financial Planners title by the Chartered Insurance Institute for offering high quality, independent and informed advice that meets the needs of our clients.