What is a financial adviser?
As the name suggests, it is someone who offers advice on financial matters. Some cover the whole spectrum from investments, estate planning and insurance to mortgages, taxes and pensions and some even hold client assets. Others are more narrowly focused.
Where have you heard about financial advisers?
Advertisements promoting the benefits of one or other adviser keep them in the public eye, as do news reports that quote the views of high-profile advisers on financial and economic matters. The occasional 'rogue' adviser will make headlines should there be regulatory action or a court case.
What you need to know about financial advisers...
The range of financial advice available is very wide, as is the status of different advisers. At one end are, effectively, sales agents for banks and insurance companies, advising on a limited range of products from their company. Independent advisers are able to offer a wider range of investment products from different providers. A full-service financial adviser ought to be able to offer comprehensive advice on everything from which shares to buy to how to fund children's college fees. At the far end of the range are traditional stockbrokers, private banks and wealth managers, who may be allowed discretionary management of client funds.