Five steps to finding a good financial adviser

Finding an independent financial adviser you can trust goes a long way to helping you get to grips with financial decisions.

So make sure you know what to look for with our five-step process:

One: Be clear what you're looking for. For example, is it specialist investment advice or more general financial planning? This will help you narrow down the advisers you might use, because advisers tend to specialise in different areas as they develop their career.

Find a financial adviser in your area

Two: Look for advisers using sites such as You can search for one based on locality, gender, qualifications or even specialist areas. Also ask friends and family for their recommendations.

If you want quick advice on a topic with the opportunity to call for more specific advice too, try

Three: Make sure the firms are authorised by the Financial Services Authority and, perhaps even more importantly, check they don't feature on the unauthorised list.

Four: Talk to prospective advisers. Find out what type of adviser they are, how they are remunerated, what qualifications they hold and how much they may charge.

Five: Finally, ensure you both like and trust them. IFAs can help you through some difficult life stages like bereavement or divorce, so it's essential you get along.

What to do if you have a problem with your adviser:

One: Complain to the adviser in writing 
 Write 'complaint' clearly at the top and be brief and to the point. Remember to include details such as policy numbers. Explain your grievance and what you want to happen. Keep copies of everything you send.

Two: Get help from the ombudsman
 If you're not satisfied with the response, go to the Financial Ombudsman Service, the independent body whose job it is to help settle disputes. If it finds in your favour it can tell the business to put you back in the position you would have been had the problem not occurred, pay you compensation for inconvenience, and direct the firm to take action to put right what has gone wrong, or simply apologise.

Three: Need more help?
 In the vast majority of cases, the businesses concerned will comply with the ruling made by the Ombudsman. In the case of a rare exception, you can take the case to court. You can also go to court if the Ombudsman finds in favour of the adviser. However, a court is likely to reach the same decision.