Financial advisor or financial planner – what’s the difference?

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What’s the difference between a financial advisor and a financial planner?

In many countries, the use of the title “financial planner” is tightly controlled and regulated. However, that’s not the case here in the UK. 

In the UK, any financial advisor can call themselves a financial planner, regardless of whether they actually deliver a financial planning service.

What does a financial advisor do and what does a financial planner do?  The key differences between a financial advisor and financial planner are summarised below.

financial planner financial advisor, Financial advisor or financial planner – what’s the difference?, Frazer James Financial Advisers

Want to know more? Read on to find out the difference between a financial advisor and financial planner.


What does a financial advisor do?

The main things a financial advisor does is set up a pension, pick an investment or select an insurance provider.

A financial advisor, even an independent financial adviser, tends to focus on a single problem. They don’t take into account the big picture. Instead, they look at the question narrowly, only advising you on what you have asked for.

For example, you may want advice on how best to invest a lump sum for the long term. A financial advisor will consider the options and recommend the best investment strategy. The risk with this approach is that without looking at the big picture, they may miss something important. Perhaps investing the lump sum isn’t the best idea. What if you need to use it for other reasons?

Financial advisors are important, but they don’t really answer the big questions. Things like “will I be okay”, “when can I afford to retire” and “how much can I spend in retirement?”.

The other problem with financial advice is the focus on financial products. Many advisers only get paid if they recommend a particular product, whether that’s an ISA, a pension or some other investment.

How much does a financial advisor cost? Typically they will charge you 2 – 3% of your investments. So if you have £200,000, they are likely to charge you about £5,000.

What does a financial planner do?

A financial planner looks at the ‘big picture’, taking a holistic approach to financial planning. A financial planner will help you work out what you want from life and then create a plan to make it happen

The key difference between a financial planner and a financial advisor is that a financial planner focuses on you and your goals, whereas a financial advisor focuses on your money and your investments.

Working with a financial planner puts you in control of your finances, providing you with clarity and confidence in your financial future. A financial planner will create a financial plan, which provides a roadmap for your financial future. The financial plan will show you where you are today, where you want to be and then create a strategy to help you get there. 

financial planner financial advisor, Financial advisor or financial planner – what’s the difference?, Frazer James Financial Advisers

The financial strategy may include financial products, such as an ISA or a pension, however, these are simply tools to get the job done.

How much does a financial planner cost? Most financial planners work on a fixed fee, with the average fee being between £1,000 – £3,000. This will normally include setting up any financial products. 

In most cases, hiring a financial planner is better value for money.

What’s right for you?

If you just want to set up an ISA & don’t want to consider ‘the bigger picture’, then you’re probably best working with a financial advisor. But if you want to take control of your finances and have a plan for your future, then financial planning is the way to go.

Our experience is that most people think they want a financial advisor, but what they need is a financial planner. Nobody is looking to invest money for the sake of it, there’s normally a reason there. They know that their financial planner is on the same side of the table as them, working with them to help move them closer towards their goals and aims in life. 

If you want someone who really understands financial advice & planning, then you should consider hiring a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). This is the hallmark of global standards in financial planning.

All the best,

financial planner financial advisor, Frazer James Financial Advisers

James Mackay, Independent Financial Adviser in Bristol

P.s – here is a short client story about the differences between a financial planner and a financial adviser.




Financial Advisor Bristol and Pension Advisor Clifton

Frazer James Financial Advisers is an Independent Financial Advisor based in Clifton, Bristol.

About us: Frazer James Financial Advisers is a financial advisor, based in Clifton, Bristol. As an independent financial adviser, we’re able to provide independent and unbiased financial advice. We provide independent financial advice, pension advice, investment advice, inheritance tax planning and insurance advice.

If you would like to speak to a Financial Advisor, we offer an Initial Financial Consultation without cost or commitment. Meetings are held either at our offices, by video or by telephone. Our telephone number is 0117 990 2602.

Frazer James Financial Advisers is located at Square Works, 17 – 18 Berkeley Square, Bristol, BS8 1HB.

This article provides information about investing, but not personal advice. If you’re not sure which investments are right for you, please request advice.

Remember that investments can go up and down in value, you may get back less than you put in.

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