The team at Sterling & Law Hampshire has put together this helpful guide to choosing a financial adviser. The aim of this guide is to help you navigate the process of finding the right IFA for your needs.

Planning for your financial future and looking to work with a local financial adviser?

Confused about how to find a good one and what traits to look out for?

Choosing a financial adviser might at first seem daunting.

    • What questions do you need to ask?
    • How will you know if they are the right adviser to meet your needs?

These questions aside, if you are seeking help with financial decisions such as paying into a pension, investing for growth or income or Inheritance Tax planning, it’s a process worth persevering with. 


An honest, experienced financial adviser can save you money by making sure you choose investments that are appropriate to you and that you properly understand what you’re investing in, potentially avoiding poor investment decisions.

They can also save you time as they already have the knowledge of, and access to a full range of investment opportunities.

The internet has given people access to information. In many cases an information overload. Navigating through a mix of opinions and online advice can become confusing. Reading articles is a good place to start but when it comes to attaining your personal objectives the advice of an experienced adviser comes second to none. 

Our guide to choosing a good financial adviser

An experienced IFA will usually offer a range of services. When choosing a financial adviser look for one who offers:

  • Financial Planning: expert advice on how to achieve your long terms goals
  • Wealth Management: tailored advice covering a range of investments
  • Inheritance Tax Advice: protecting your financial legacy and retaining control
  • Pensions and Investments: providing you with your desired income on later life
  • Retirement Planning: helping you towards the retirement your desire
  • Financial Life Modelling: advanced, data-driven financial planning software

The key to finding the right financial adviser depends on what advice you are looking for.

For example, when choosing a financial adviser ask yourself

  • Are you looking for help with investing in your pension or a Stocks & Shares ISA?
  • Do you have parents at an age where they may need looking after?
  • Is their estate and your inheritance protected from the spiralling costs of long-term care?
  • Are you approaching retirement and focused on maximising your later life income while making sure your assets last at least as long as you do?
  • Are you looking for a mortgage?
  • Is it important that your family are looked after financially if you were to die or become seriously unwell?
  • Are you passing on a significant inheritance and are concerned about the tax implications?

These are just some of the many reasons and scenarios where people may need some expert financial advice.

Choosing a good financial adviser can take time.  Here are our suggestions on how to find a good financial adviser.

What makes a good financial adviser?

Here are some of the key attributes to look out for when choosing a financial adviser.

When choosing a financial adviser, you should look for the following:

  • They are independent; not tied to a small pool of investments and pension funds.
  • A good financial adviser will have a solid reputation, backed up by reviews
  • Good financial advisers take a proactive approach. If you spot laziness, run a mile
  • They don’t panic. They remain calm and clear
  • Good financial planners build confidence and trust. They look to invest your money wisely
  • They are an experienced financial professional
  • Effective financial advisers show a real interest in your life plans. They take a holistic view of all your finances and they will want to know your plans and financial objectives
  • They have a support team working alongside them
  • A clear investment strategy is communicated and delivered
  • They work with you and put your interests first

They are independent; not tied to a small pool of investments and pension funds

We recommend working with an adviser who has access to the whole of the investment market.

Financial advisers who aren’t truly unbiased could limit your investment opportunities and therefore your optimum long-term financial return.

At Sterling and Law Hampshire, our advisers are independent. We have no hidden fees. We offer accessible, affordable financial advice for people across Hampshire and beyond. 

A good financial adviser will have a solid reputation, backed up by reviews. 

There are many ways you may find a financial adviser.

An online search; a recommendation from a networking group; a nudge in the right direction from family and friends.

However, ultimately the decision and responsibility is yours.

The best financial advisers have good reputations, fantastic relationships with their clients and a solid track record of offering sound financial advice.

They will be more than happy to provide you with a reference and will have some good online reviews.

Looking for a good financial adviser who gets regular, quality reviews?

Have a read through our practice principal Ian Batterbee’s VouchedFor customer reviews.

Good financial advisers take a proactive approach. If you spot laziness, run a mile.

Good financial advisers keep the lines of communication open with their clients.

They provide regular updates on current financial issues and opportunities. They are good communicators and help make complex financial concepts incredibly easy to understand.

If a financial adviser withholds information or doesn’t afford you the time to clearly explain his or her financial recommendations they’re not worth your time (or money).

It’s never a good thing if you leave a meeting feeling confused. 

They don’t panic. They remain calm and clear

Finding a financial adviser who is calm, patient and never panics is fundamental to your success.

You should always work with a financial planner who is constantly evaluating what options are right for you and doesn’t deviate on a whim from a well thought-out, tactical and strategic financial plan.

Avoid like the plague advisors who constantly push the latest hot investment fund with a sense of urgency.

Why?  They may not have your best interests at heart.

Investing is about long-term growth. Avoid advisers who demonstrate a sense of urgency when it comes to investment opportunities.

Ask yourself what’s in it for them?

Furthermore, a good financial adviser won’t make knee-jerk emotional decisions. They will also discourage their customers from doing the same

For example: there is a saying among experienced financial advisers.

“It’s about time in the market, not timing the market”

What does this mean?

They understand markets take a tumble from time to time. Think about the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. The financial markets more than ‘tumbled’: it was one of the worst market declines in living memory.  However, markets rebounded quickly and have since gone from strength to strength (at the point of writing this article).

Market declines are common, whether there is a recession, some negative news or a global event.

Experienced advisers remain calm, keep your money invested wisely and, while they understand that markets may fall periodically, they always rebound over time.

No one can time the bottom or a dip and no one can predict when they may rise again.


Good financial planners build confidence and trust. They look to invest your money wisely.

You need a financial adviser you can trust and have confidence in their recommendations.

A solid, regulated adviser will avoid hyperbole. They won’t make bold claims about your potential gains, even if they can point to previous performance.

Past performance doesn’t indicate future gains.  A good track record may be seen as an indicator you’re in good hands but there is far more to it than that.

If ever you feel nervous, fearful or uncomfortable after a meeting with your financial adviser, or feel as though you’ve been ‘sold to’, trust your instincts and consider whether this is the right professional relationship for you.


They are an experienced financial professional.


What do you think is better?

Working with a smooth-talking, sharp suit wearing, new-kid-on-the-block or someone with long-term experience of the financial markets with a proven history of giving quality investment advice?

Experienced IFAs will have seen it all.

They will have survived market crashes and financial crises and will have a solid track record of sound investment recommendations.

Their business will be regulated; they will have accreditations and qualifications.

They take a holistic view of all your finances. They will want to know your plans and financial objectives.

Solid financial advice covers way more than just the types of asset class you invest in.

An effective financial adviser will take the time to learn about your full financial situation including:

  • Your financial goals
  • Your current financial situation
  • Your investment history
  • Your family situation and life goals

This will help a financial adviser begin to develop a meaningful and accurate financial plan that is specifically tailored to you.

They have a support team working alongside them

At Sterling & Law Hampshire, in addition to our experienced financial planners, our internal support team consists of administrators and paraplanners.

This signifies you will be working with an organised, well-staffed practice, committed to customer service.

Furthermore, an effective financial adviser should have strong relationships with a broad range of experts to meet your specific needs.

This should include fund managers, mortgage specialists, solicitors, accountants,  will writers and more.

A team approach ensures you get the professional advice you require to meet any desired investment, wealth management, protection or life goal.

They develop a clear investment strategy

Think of long-term investing as a journey.

In the same way, you wouldn’t embark on a trip without clear directions to your destination, you shouldn’t try to navigate towards your dream financial future without a clearly defined path.

A quality financial adviser will develop and communicate your investment strategy in a clear, concise way. This should always be easy to understand and reassuring for you as their the client.

They work with you and put your interests first

Professional financial advisers tailor your investment plan to your specific goals.

You should receive regular communication.  You should expect a formal review at least annually but your adviser should always be accessible

As discussed previously in this guide, an independent financial adviser will have access to all investment funds and product providers currently available on the retail market.

They will offer a range of services to support you at different points in your journey through life.

For example, in addition to savings, pensions advice, and investments they will be able to help you with:

  • Retirement Planning
  • Estate Planning
  • Inheritance Tax advice
  • Pensions & investments
  • Wealth Management
  • Financial Life Modelling
  • Personal and Business Protection

Why work with Sterling & Law – Hampshire?

We’d love to hear from you about your current and future financial goals and dreams.

Here are some of the reasons our clients choose to work with us:

  • Fully independent financial advice –  your best interests at heart
  • Experienced advisers with over 35 years combined experience
  • Industry accreditations and qualifications
  • A solid track record and fantastic customer relationships
  • A team of experts
  • A broad range of services to cater for your financial objectives and life goals

If you are currently looking into your options, find out more about our financial planning and advice services.

Alternatively, if you would like to arrange a free one our consultation with an experienced adviser, contact us today.


Note: This article doesn’t constitute financial advice. Your capital is at risk when investing in equity markets. Past performance is not a guide to future returns.  Investments can go down as well as up and you could get back less than you originally invest.