How to find the perfect IFA

Working with a professional financial adviser is worth always considering. They can open your eyes to new products and investment opportunities you may not have considered, helping you to create a financial plan that really makes the most of your money.

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With so many horror stories about predatory advisers and astronomical fees, how do you find the perfect IFA?

The advice you need

Start by identifying the type of financial advice you need, such as whether you are looking for a mortgage broker or pension adviser. Whatever level of advice you need, make sure your expert is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Since 2013, an IFA no longer receives commission; instead, they must charge an hourly rate.

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Choosing certain products can be straightforward and you may not require the help of an IFA; however, if your circumstances are complex or unusual or you simply want to access the full range of products with the guarantees of using a qualified financial expert, working with a specialised broker or adviser can help you to pinpoint the mortgage, pension or insurance that work for you.

Choosing the right adviser

When you are looking for financial advice, it is important to know the difference between a restricted adviser, who can only give you information on certain products, and an independent financial adviser or IFA. If you are asking yourself ‘why would I choose an independent financial advisor?’, imagine only being offered a handful of products or providers. An IFA has access to the entire market to get the best deal for you.

If you are in the South West and are looking for an independent financial advisor Swindon businesses and private individuals recommend, try the Find an Adviser site provided by the Personal Financial Society, the trade organisation for IFAs. The Money Advisory Service can also signpost you towards IFAs who specialise in pensions and equity release.

Qualifications and experience

Since 2013, IFAs have been required to hold at least a level four diploma in financial planning, although many have higher level qualifications that enable them to claim Certified Financial Planner or Chartered Financial Planner status. They should also have a Statement of Professional Standing (SPS) issued by a body accredited by the FCA, which shows that your IFA holds the required qualifications and abides by a code of ethics.