Most people don’t get much in the way of financial education – so making long-term decisions about your money isn’t always easy. But decisions about things such as mortgages, investments and debt payments can be lifechanging, which means that it’s important to try and get as much information as you can before settling for a particular course of action.

Independent financial advisers

Helping you decide how to manage your money is exactly what financial advisers are there for. Although taking financial advice will cost you in the short-term, the benefit of their experience is likely to save you money over time.

Some advisers are restricted, meaning that they can only give you recommendations for certain products or companies. This is not ideal, as it means that you won’t be getting truly independent advice. Instead, try and find an independent adviser who can give you information about all of the products and services available – this is often referred to as ‘whole of market’ advice. A company should tell you whether the advice they offer is independent or restricted.

Make sure your adviser is properly registered

The financial conduct authority are responsible for authorising financial advisers in the UK, and you can easily check their register to make sure that the adviser you’ve chosen is legitimate. If a company appears on the register, it means that they are fully regulated and you can trust that their advice will adhere to the FCA’s strict rules.

The FCA also provide contact details for the companies on their register. Double check that the contact details listed match those that you have been given. This will help you to ensure that you’re not dealing with a scammer pretending to be a legitimate business.

Getting free advice

There are some services in the UK set up to give free advice for those who may be struggling with debt, or unable to afford a private adviser. These services may be more limited in the type of information that they can provide, but they’re still a very helpful first step for anybody who talk through their financial situation with an expert. Here are a few options:

  • The money advice service – an impartial service, set up by the government and offering information on a range of topics including pensions, credit cards and insurance as well as debt and mortgages. They offer online articles and calculators, printed information guides and direct support over the phone or via web chat.
  • Citizen’s advice – an independent organisation that can offer advice on a range of topics such as debt, housing and consumer rights. Citizen’s advice have a network of local branches, so you can speak to somebody based in your local area.
  • Independent charities – there are many different charities across the UK that are set up to help people dealing with particular financial problems. They can help you to work out a plan of action, or point you towards government services that will offer further support.