How to choose a financial adviser

The financial world can be a confusing place.

From commodities to compound interest, understanding some of the technical jargon is just part of the struggle.

With so many options and products on the market, it can be challenging to know what one is right for you. That’s why some people turn to financial advisers.

You may think that financial advisers are reserved for those with large investment portfolios or high net worth individuals. The truth is the services that a financial adviser offers could appeal to a much broader client base.

So, who could benefit from speaking with a financial adviser? The simple answer is anyone. Let’s start by looking at what a financial adviser does and how you could benefit from speaking to one.


Financial advisers 101

Financial advisers provide unbiased advice on a range of products and services available in the market.

This means that you get access to a comprehensive range of products and impartial advice tailored specifically to you.

The services that financial advisers offer is broad. Here are a few examples:

  • Tax advice
  • Setting up and managing pensions
  • Using expert market knowledge to manage investment portfolios
  • Setting up a savings plan
  • Protection insurance. For example, life insurance or critical illness cover

Ultimately, their job is to help you achieve your financial goals.

Financial advice

Why speak to a financial adviser?

There are two main reasons why you might speak to a financial adviser about managing your finances.

The first would be for expert advice on complex products. Some financial products, such as investments and pensions, can be confusing. 

Think about hiring a financial adviser like going to a hairdresser.

Sure, you could probably cut your hair yourself, and it might turn out ok. On the other (more likely) hand, it could go wrong, and you’re left wondering why you didn’t go and see a professional.

Buying into complex financial products uses the same logic, except there is more than a bad hair cut on the line.

The second reason for speaking to a financial adviser comes down to time.

Whether it’s setting up a savings plan or planning for retirement, managing your finances can be extremely time-consuming.

People who are juggling work, family, and life in general, will know that time is a precious commodity. Having someone manage your finances for you means you have more time for the other essential things in life.

Now we know what a financial adviser does and the benefits, the next step is finding the right one.


Choosing a financial adviser

Choosing a financial adviser means more than just going with the first one you find. 

The person you decide to work with will be managing your finances and helping you reach your financial goals. It’s an important decision and one you shouldn’t rush into.

Here is what you should look for when you’re choosing a financial adviser.

Qualifications and experience

All financial advisers need to meet a certain standard. This means being qualified to a certain level by the relevant exam bodies.

A level 4 qualification is the requirement to give financial advice. This is the equivalent of the first year of a degree, and covers the following topics:

  • Regulation and ethics
  • Personal taxation
  • Financial protection
  • Pensions and retirement planning
  • Financial planning practice
  • Investment principles and risk

Depending on your reasons for hiring a financial adviser, it’s worth looking at additional qualifications and experience.

For example, you might want advice on pensions. Speaking to a financial adviser that tends to specialise in that area would be beneficial for you.


Knowing the fees upfront is essential. Don’t be afraid to ask the financial adviser about their fee structure.

Financial advisers usually earn their money in a few different ways, which include:

  1. Flat annual fees: You pay an agreed-upon amount that covers their services for a set period.
  2. Hourly: You pay for their services on an hourly basis.
  3. Percentage of investment: This is usually for those investing larger amounts. A percentage of your assets are used to pay for the financial adviser’s services.

The Money Advice Service has a more detailed guide to fees if you would like to know more.

Building a relationship

Being able to build a relationship with your financial adviser is essential. After all, you’re trusting this person with your finances.

Investments are typically a long-term strategy for building wealth. If this is your goal, chances are you will be working with your adviser for some time.

Being able to speak to your adviser on a personal level and build trust is an essential part of a successful relationship.

By building a good working relationship with your adviser, you can avoid unnecessary hassle later down the road. The last thing you want to be doing is switching advisers and transferring everything.


Product reviews play a significant role in our purchase options and can provide extra reassurance.

Let’s say you are in the market for a premium pair of headphones. You would probably check out reviews before investing a lot of money into a product that left you disappointed.

Hiring a financial adviser is no different.

Reviews are a transparent way of knowing what you are getting before moving ahead with your choice.

When it comes to professional services or companies, one of the best ways of checking reviews is through Trustpilot.     

Trustpilot is recognised globally as the go-to place for company reviews. Think of it as a digital word of mouth platform, in this case, for financial advisers. 

Anyone who has experience with the company or the financial adviser can leave a review and rating. Individual reviews generate an overall score which is a good indication of the levels of service you should expect.

For transparency, a company will display their Trustpilot score and reviews on their website.


Hiring a professional

Choosing a financial adviser to help you reach your goals means doing your research to find the right fit. 

At Holborn, we have over 20 years of experience helping people reach their goals. 

All of our IFAs are required to meet the highest standards in terms of qualifications and professionalism. If you would like to find out how we can help you, contact us using the form below.

Ready to chat with
a specialist?

Get started

You may also be interested in

how the fatf grey list affects south africans

FATF Grey List: Should South Africans be afraid about their financial plans?

Is it true that grey clouds gather over South Africa’s economy? Recent media reports have noted that South Africa is at risk of being placed on the FATF’s Grey list...

Read more
personal tax income return in south africa

South African tax season has begun: What’s new?

The South African tax filing season for 2022 has begun with the deadlines already announced on media. Due to a number of technical issues that have arisen with the electronic...

Read more
expats moving to south africa

Moving to South Africa Expat Guide

Are you thinking about moving to South Africa? Many people refer to South Africa as the “rainbow nation” due to the country’s multinational diversity. South Africa is a country that...

Read more
life insurance cover in different life stages

Life insurance cover for different life stages

“Fun is like life insurance; the older you get, the more it costs” is a popular quote you might find when looking for life insurance cover on the internet. This...

Read more