When you are looking for help with your finances and long-term planning, you can basically do one of three things:
Do-It-Yourself (the ‘DIY’ option)
Use an independent financial adviser
Use another type of adviser, who is NOT independent
The DIY option can be viable and sensible, where your financial position is straightforward.
However, once things get a little more complicated advice is often needed, or preferable.
If you are thinking about tax planning or need to consider how to pay care fees, draw on a pension as you approach retirement, have lots of pensions from past employment that need consolidating, need to consider investment strategies, work out what funds to use, or how best to structure your insurance needs then you may well need advice.
As soon as you feel this is the case, you can use either an advice process and an adviser who is independent or one who is not.
The difference is most easily explained by the fact that an Independent Financial Adviser can recommend products from the whole market and from every product provider.
The other type of advice is known as Restricted Financial Advice and the advisers are Restricted Financial Advisers. They offer advice on a limited number of products or can only access products offered by one or a limited range of companies.
The restriction can be significant, as in the case of an adviser representing just one company’s products, or very light, where the adviser has many options (albeit still limited in some way).
The restriction can be in relation to the product range, company or companies represented, or both.
All financial advisers, whether independent or restricted, must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and qualified to provide financial advice. In addition, they are all subject to FCA rules and are bound by the same requirements to provide suitable advice.