We often make the point that, although financial blogs like this one can give you some very helpful information, they shouldn’t be used in situations where you need expert financial advice.
It’s important that financial advice comes from somebody who is able to assess your individual situation: information that’s up on the internet provides a helpful guideline, but it doesn’t take any of your own circumstances into account.
Here are a few different options for free financial advice. The type of advice that you get will differ depending on the source that you choose, so be sure to spend some time reading about what each one has to offer before making your choice.
Money Advice Service
The Money Advice Service was set up by the government to provide people with free financial information and advice. The information on their website is a great place to start, but if you need something more specific then you can speak to them over the phone or online. They can give you tips and suggestions for a wide range of different topics, and are often a good place to start since they’ll also direct you to other resources where appropriate.
You can also speak to them on WhatsApp, although the topics that they cover here are more limited: they’ll discuss debt, credit and pensions.
You can chat to advisors from your local Citizen’s Advice in a range of different ways: online, through the telephone advice line (text or call), or by visiting the branch in person. They’ll talk to you about anything from debt to claiming benefits, providing a vital service for people at their wits’ end. However, for more complex matters they might not be the best place to turn as they may not be able to go into much depth. Although they can signpost you to companies/organisations that could help you further.
Many financial advisors will offer an initial consultation free of charge. If you’re needs are more complex then this could be a good option, as you’ll get the opportunity to deal with somebody who has far more detailed knowledge of the area that you’d like help in.
To make the most of your free appointment, make sure that you’re prepared ahead of time. Come armed with questions, and a clear objective of what you want to get out of the conversation. You should also be aware that they may have a vested interest in getting you to sign up for a certain product or service. Most of the time, an advisor will be clear and professional, but it’s always worth being aware of what they represent. Finally, make sure that any advisor you speak to is accredited by the Finance Conduct Authority.
Your own financial service providers
If you have had a good service from your bank or building society, then you might want to consider going to them for advice about other products that could suit your needs. You’ll need to do your own research on top, as a bank will generally provide you with what’s known as restricted advice: they’ll talk about their own services, but they won’t let you know if there are other better options out there.