The financial planning journal

How to find the right financial adviser for you

26 April 2021

How do you find the right financial adviser for you?

The financial world can feel so unfamiliar that most of us don’t know where or how to get started. This often results in us just choosing a financial adviser that a friend uses or using a well-known brand for comfort. In truth, this (especially the latter) may not be the best option.

Failing those two approaches, the next adviser selection criteria people use is location. Are they nearby? However, a good adviser will travel across the UK to see you. Additionally, the new world of video conferencing has been an industry game-changer. You can receive high-quality financial advice without even needing to leave your armchair, so location shouldn’t really sit at the top of your priority list.

So, what should you base your decision on when selecting an adviser?

Personalisation & service

First, you need to ask if a behemoth bank will really give you the personal service you need. We’ve seen a substantial amount of money flowing away from these larger brands over the last few years. Their size often means they are slow to innovate and they are failing to keep-up with the curve when it comes to service levels. Discussing your money is an extremely personal process so this shouldn’t be underestimated.


Independence is also a key element when attempting to find a financial adviser. I have worked for a tied firm (only able to use in-house funds) in the past, and they essentially believe that the way they look after money is superior. This is understandable as it’s ultimately a USP for an investment firm and having direct oversight of the investment strategy can be an important part of meeting a client’s objectives. However, many advisers at tied firms sometimes feel their own, in-house, solution might not be the most suitable option for a particular individual. Clients have varying needs and general philosophies, which is why it is important for your adviser to have multiple investment options when needed.

Ideally, you want to find the best of both worlds. An independent firm that has an in-house investment offering with a proven track record is preferable. However, they should also have the ability to select outside of their core offering if you need an alternative solution to meet your requirements.

Full service

It is also important that the firm you choose provides a full range of services. As consumers, we are getting more used to having everything in one place because, guess what, it makes life a lot easier. So ideally, your chosen firm should have its own platform, provide in-house pensions and tax wrappers and be able to arrange insurance for you, alongside financial planning and investment management. Having an all-in-one solution will remove a substantial amount of confusion and headache.

In a perfect world, you should also choose a firm, which has separate financial planning and investment management teams, with specialists on both. The idea that someone can be an expert financial planner, as well as a high-quality investment manager, is farcical. When you have surgery, you have a team of specialists in the theatre, not just one doctor that claims to be a surgeon, anaesthetist and nurse – it should be no different for your money.


Last, but certainly not least, is to not just look for the cheapest or, indeed, the most expensive option out there. When finding a financial adviser ask the question: “can you demonstrate to me how you have added value for your fees?” The most expensive active management can be very good value ‘if’ it has genuinely added consistent outperformance. Similarly, the cheapest passive solution starts to become very expensive if your fees haven’t added any value, and it has performed poorly for the amount of risk it’s taking.

So, to find the best financial adviser don’t look at the price, look at value. A high-quality firm will easily be able to demonstrate this to you.

Overall, finding the right adviser can be challenging and it certainly is an unfamiliar world for many people. However, rather than simply basing your decision on whether you’ve seen the brand on a poster or not, go through my criteria, and you might come up with some unexpected results…

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