People looking to invest but unsure of the steps they need to take have a number of options when it comes to asking for help. They can, for example, speak to family or friends – although, unless their family members or friends work in the financial sector, they may not get the quality of advice they are looking for. Or, they can speak to an independent financial advisor (IFA) or institutional consultant, both of whom will likely have the financial expertise needed to help them invest wisely, although they shouldn’t be seen as one and the same.
As their name suggests, IFAs are independent of any financial institution. This means they tend to put the needs of their client first, and while they may be aligned to financial institutions, they’re not obligated in any way to recommend specific financial products. Institutional consultants, as their name suggests, do work for a bank, building society or other financial institution, and while they’ll want to make you – their client – happy by providing a return on your investment, they will also have a loyalty to their employer which could lead to a conflict of interest, however unintentional.
Products and services
An IFA will work with you to identify the best products or services available based on how much you have to invest and what you want to achieve with your investments – are you saving up for a house, for example, or looking longer-term and retirement income. IFAs don’t develop products or services, they simply review what is available, meaning they aren’t likely to recommend a product because they own a stake in it.
One of the benefits of IFAs is the number of additional services they’re able to offer compared to an institutional consultant. Independent financial advisor Chippenham based Chilvester, for example, offer mortgage and insurance services in addition to investment advice.
One area that both IFAs and institutional consultants have in common is regulation. Both are required to be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), take specific training and gain certain qualifications in order to carry out their roles. However, because IFAs tend to work with a wider range of products, they also tend to have a higher level of financial knowledge and expertise.