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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Choosing and using a financial adviser

If your finances are complicated or you need advice on a particular financial product a financial adviser can help. Firms must be authorised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to advise on most financial products. This means they must follow certain rules and standards when dealing with you.

What is financial advice?

When you get financial advice, the financial adviser looks at your individual circumstances and needs and recommends financial products to meet them.

If you buy without advice you have less protection than if you buy with advice.

What's covered by financial advice?

The FSA regulates financial advice for most types of investments, mortgages and general or protection insurance. To check the details, follow the links below. If you receive unsuitable advice on these products, there's a formal complaints procedure and system for putting things right.

How to check if a firm is authorised

You can check whether a firm or individual is authorised to give advice by using the FSA's online Register.

Financial advisers and the information they provide

Some advisers specialise in one area, such as insurance, investments or mortgages, while others may cover several.

The information you'll get depends on the investment but generally you will get information about:

  • the services available and what they will cost you
  • the product you are buying

If you buy an investment product for example a pension, you will also then receive an annual statement showing the performance of your investment and how much you have paid in charges.

The charges will vary from company to company, and investment to investment. You should be told what the level of charges will be before you buy the product, either by your adviser (if you have one), or the provider. The charges are used to pay the adviser commission and to cover admin costs and pay the fund manager.

How to find a financial adviser

You'll find financial advisers listed in telephone directories and business pages, and on the internet. You can also ask friends for personal recommendations.

Most banks and building societies also have financial advisers. Bear in mind that they're often tied to selling their company's products, or a limited range of alternatives. Always check that the firm is authorised by the FSA before handing over your money.

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