Independent financial advice

If you are starting to plan how to pay for long-term care and support for yourself, or for a family member or friend, it's important to get independent financial advice.

While Council staff and care providers can help you understand what your care and support may cost, and can help you to plan the kind or support you're likely to need, they are not financial advisers. An independent adviser can offer unbiased expert advice. There are two types of financial advisers:

  • restricted advisers; and
  • independent financial advisers

A restricted adviser is an individual or a firm that is tied to a particular provider. They can only recommend certain products or product providers to you. The adviser should explain the nature of the restriction to you clearly, but if you're not sure, then it is best to ask.

An independent adviser can offer advice and sell products from any provider across the whole market. This means you are more likely to get the very best advice and products tailored just for you. An independent financial adviser will:

  • Offer a broad range of investment products
  • Give consumers unbiased and unrestricted advice based on their comprehensive and fair analysis of the relevant market
  • Tell consumers, before advising them, that they are an independent adviser

There are also independent financial advisers that focus specifically on care funding advice, often referred to as specialist care fees advisers. One of the advantages of getting advice from an independent financial adviser who has specialist knowledge is that they are able to assess your specific circumstances in full, and can make sure you are claiming all the benefits and allowances you are entitled to. 

How much does it cost?

Most independent financial advisers will charge either a fee or commission, so it's important you ask them when you first speak to them so you are clear about any charges. These fees can vary widely depending on your situation and the level of advice and types of products they recommend.

Many advisers will offer an initial free consultation, but always make sure you are clear about charges for any future appointments.

Finding an adviser

The Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) helps people to find Independent Financial Advisers who specialise in financial planning for later life. All advisers on the database have to prove that they meet appropriate criteria and have the right qualifications before they are accredited by SOLLA.

 

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates over 50,000 businesses and is accountable to the Treasury, although independent from government. Its aim is to enable consumers to get a good deal. The FCA maintains a register of firms and individuals that it has authorised to do business. The FCA also carries out regulated activities, or provides products or services.

 

The Money Advice Service was set up by the Government, and offers impartial and unbiased money advice and information to help you make the most of your money, whatever your circumstances. They also have a directory of retirement advisors.

 

Richmond Citizens Advice Bureau is one of 22 bureaux nationally who now have the services of a qualified Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) in partnership with the Personal Finance Society. 

The Independent Financial Adviser provides free generic financial advice on subjects such as pensions, debt management, mortgage, releasing money from property, health and life insurance, banking and savings.

Richmond Citizens Advice Bureau
Phone: 020 8712 7800
Web:www.citizensadvicerichmond.org

Making a complaint about advice 

If you are unhappy with any financial advice you have received from an IFA, you can make a complaint directly to the company. If they have not responded within eight weeks, or you are still unhappy, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). 

FOS has been set up by Parliament to sort out individual complaints that consumers and financial businesses aren’t able to resolve themselves. The service is also free.

Useful contacts:

Richmond Citizens Advice Bureau
Phone: 020 8712 7800
Web:www.citizensadvicerichmond.org

Money Advice Service
Phone: 0800 138 7777
Web:www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk
Email: enquiries@moneyadviceservice.org.uk

Financial Conduct Authority
Phone: 0800 111 6768
Web:www.fca.org.uk

Financial Ombudsman Service
Phone: 0800 023 4 567
Web:www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk
Email: complaint.info@financial-ombudsman.org.uk