There's little point beating around the bush on this: trust in financial services is waning. Has been for a while. The financial crisis; bankers' bonuses; the payment protection insurance scandal - none have helped to instil confidence in the industry.
But there are many in financial services undeserving of such mistrust caused by the failings of others. And here at Your Money, we believe independent financial advice can provide huge benefits to consumers.
But how to find an IFA who is suitable for you? Below, we have produced a short guide to finding a good adviser...
1 Log on
There are now several websites with searchable listings for IFAs, including IFA Centre, Unbiased, Find an Advisor and VouchedFor. If you are looking specifically for a stockbroker or wealth manager, you can also try APCIMS.
On most of these, you can search for an adviser either in your local area or for one near your workplace. The listings will show you which products the adviser is able to advise on. VouchedFor also uses a recommendation system, where people rate advisers based on their experience.
It is always worth a quick check on the Financial Services Authority (FSA) register too, once you have selected an adviser.
2 Ask for recommendations
Speaking to family and friends about who they use for their financial advice could cut down your search time dramatically.
Ask what services the adviser has provided for them in the past to make sure their recommendation matches your requirements.
3 Newspapers; phone directory
You will find advertisements for financial advisers in both local and national newspapers. Financial advisers are also listed in the telephone directories.
You could also look online using a search engine. If you can, check the website of any adviser you consider before you contact them, to make sure they offer the products and services you are looking for.
What to consider
Before your first meeting, it will help to have a think about some questions an adviser might ask you, particularly if you want to invest.
Here are six questions to consider...
1 What do you want to achieve, both short and long-term?
2 Do you have any dependents?
3 On investment: how much capital are you looking to invest?
4 Which products, if any, do you already have?
5 On investment: how long do you want to invest for?
6 What would you consider your attitude to risk to be?
Questions to ask
You may also have a question or two for you adviser. You might want to ask...
1 What experience and qualifications do you have?
2 Do you specialise in any areas?
3 Are you independent, or restricted to offering only certain products or recommending certain providers?
4 What is your charging structure?
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