What is an Independent Financial Adviser ("IFA")?

An IFA is a professional who offers independent advice on financial matters.  They are not tied to any particular financial company and can, therefore, recommend suitable financial products from the whole of the market.  They (or their firm) will be authorised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and should meet the FSA's strict standards.  They can offer advice on pensions, mortgages, investments, insurance and tax matters.  They must be paid and this will be either via an hourly rate or by commission.  Often, the hourly rate can be best, as there is no incentive to sell any one product over another then.

Pros?

  • You're likely to get more for your money than if you use a "tied" adviser
  • For more complex products, like pensions and investments, an IFA can help you save time by doing the shopping around for you
  • If the product turns out to be inappropriate, you can complain to the Financial Services Ombudsman
  • You will be given the option of paying by fee or by commission

Cons?

  • Commission charges can vary enormously - shop around
  • High commission charges can dramatically affect the return on your investment

Cost?

Many offer a free initial consultation, but otherwise be aware of the wide variation in charges

Who can provide this service