When it comes to wealth-planning for your retirement, we strongly suggest that you seek independent and qualified financial advice.

If you do not have a financial adviser, you can find one close to where you live or work at www.unbiased.co.uk. All advisers listed are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You can filter advisers by location, areas of expertise, method of charging and whether they offer fully independent advice or advice that’s restricted to certain products or providers

Asking friends and family to recommend an adviser can be useful, but it may not guarantee that an adviser is independent or regulated – so do check. If you are still working, see if your workplace provides access to financial advice.

Issues to consider when choosing an adviser

Many advisory firms will offer an initial meeting free of charge. This will provide an opportunity to ensure that an adviser is a good fit for you – bearing in mind that you may need to have a relationship for many years.  Make sure you meet the person who will be advising you – not just a sales person.

Regulation – Anyone giving advice on savings and investments in the UK must be authorised to do so by the UK financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). All advisers listed by unbiased.co.uk or moneyadvice.org.uk are FCA-authorised.

Independent or restricted – Many advisers are independent financial advisers (IFAs) and can advise on products and providers across the whole market. But some advisers are classed as restricted. This means they may be limited either in the type of products they offer, or the providers they can recommend. An adviser must make clear right away what type of advice they offer.

Area of expertise – Ask if the adviser is qualified to advise on all the areas of wealth-planning that you need help with, and that these are core to their expertise. For example, advisers need special qualifications to advise on transferring a final-salary (defined benefit) pension or to advise on home equity release.

Communication and rapport – Are you comfortable that the adviser can explain things in terms you understand? A skilled adviser should take the complexity out of retirement planning and make you feel at ease, whatever questions you ask.

Client profile – Does the firm advise lots of other people in similar circumstances to you? If your retirement fund is smaller than their average client, do you feel you will be treated as less of a priority?

Method of charging – Advisory firms may charge an hourly rate, a fixed fee or as a percentage of the value of your investments. They should make clear what their advice will cost initially and on an ongoing basis before they take you on as client. Feel free to shop around but remember the cheapest may not necessarily be the best. To avoid bias, advisers can no longer earn commission on the products they recommend. Fees to your adviser can be paid directly to them by you, or be paid from the products you hold with us. Fees will need to be confirmed with your financial adviser in writing.

Ongoing service – Check that the ongoing service is provided in the way you want. For example, if you like meeting in person, will the firm provide face-to-face reviews. Or if you prefer using technology, can they provide you with updates online or meetings by Skype.