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The top 5 places to get free financial advice in the UK

4 mins read
by Lisa-Marie Voneshen
Last updated Thursday, May 16, 2024

Where can you get free financial advice? We reveal the best places in the UK to access financial guidance free of charge.

Financial advice can be invaluable as a financial adviser can help you get the most out of your money, whether you’re hoping to start investing, planning your retirement or looking for the right mortgage. 

While the initial meeting is typically free, working with an adviser is fee-based, and charges can vary. 

We’ll explore the difference between financial guidance and advice and restricted and independent advisers, as well as what questions to ask and qualifications to look out for. 

We’ll also reveal the services that offer impartial guidance or advice free of charge later.

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What is the difference between financial guidance and advice?

Financial advice and guidance may sound very familiar, but there are some key differences to consider.

If an organisation offers financial guidance, it is essentially an overview of your options — but nothing is recommended.

Financial advice is tailored to your needs by recommending the best action or financial product.

For example, financial guidance on your savings options would outline your options and their pros and cons. In contrast, a financial adviser would look at your circumstances and recommend a specific account.

A financial adviser should be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), while financial guidance is not, so you won’t be able to complain to the Financial Ombudsman if you’re unhappy. 

If you’re seeking advice and are unsure whether you’re getting advice or guidance, check with the organisation, as they may only offer the latter.

What are the different types of financial advisers? 

There are two types of financial advisers, which are outlined below. 

  • Independent: Independent financial advisers can recommend investment and financial products, including pension products, from various firms across the market.

  • Restricted: Restricted advisers are limited in what types of financial products they can offer, the providers they can use or both.  

Regardless of the type of adviser you choose, the quality of the advice you receive should be similar. 

Before agreeing to use a financial adviser, you should be clear about whether they are restricted or independent and make sure it works for you.

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What types of qualifications should a financial adviser have?

A financial adviser must have a qualification recognised and approved by the FCA and, at minimum, have completed a Level 4 diploma for financial advisers. 

They must also have a Statement of Professional Standing. 

All financial advisers available via Unbiased are regulated by the FCA, so you have peace of mind when getting advice.

What questions should I ask in my first meeting? 

When you have an initial meeting with a financial adviser, you should ask questions to ensure they are right for you.

Below are some questions you should ask, although this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Will you advise on the whole of the market?

  • What are your qualifications?

  • What should I bring to the next meeting?

  • What will be the cost of advice?

  • What benefits can I expect from this advice?

Where can I get free financial advice and guidance?

We’ll now look at five places that offer free financial advice and guidance. 

MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper offers free, impartial advice backed by the UK Government. It offers money and pensions guidance online, over the phone or in person and can connect you to a free debt adviser.  

So, whether you’re looking to make the most of your money, cut your debt or even plan ahead or find out whether you’re entitled to any benefits, MoneyHelper can offer helpful guidance.  

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice offers free, independent advice in various areas, including guidance on pensions, housing, employment issues, debt, benefits, family matters and consumer rights. 

The organisation’s network of independent charities can give confidential advice over the phone, online or in person.  

Citizens Advice says it helped over 2.66 million people with one-to-one advice in 2022-23.

StepChange

StepChange is the UK’s leading debt charity and has helped millions of people deal with their debt problems for free.  

You can get advice online or over the phone. StepChange will help you work out your income, budget and debts and use this to devise a solution before setting up a plan and extra support.   

National Debtline

Run by the Money Advice Trust, National Debtline is a free and confidential debt advice service. 

You can either call, use its online webchat or use the digital advice tool to get the right advice for you.  

The Financial Ombudsman Service

The Financial Ombudsman helps settle complaints about financial businesses for free.  

They may be able to help if you have any issues with: 

  • Financial advice, pensions and investments

  • Bank accounts, payments and cards

  • Insurance products

  • Loans and finance loans

  • Debt collection and repayment problems

  • Mortgages 

If you’re struggling with your finances and are not sure where to turn, it’s worth getting in touch with a trusted organisation that can offer free, impartial and confidential advice. 

If you’re looking into how to make the most of your money and are considering ways to maximise your pension or find the best investments or mortgage, it may be worth paying for advice.

Learn more: what is a financial adviser and what do they do?

Unbiased can quickly connect you to a qualified financial adviser who can offer guidance whether you plan to retire soon, start investing or optimise your pension. 

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Author
Lisa-Marie Voneshen
Lisa-Marie Voneshen is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She is an award-winning journalist with nearly a decade of experience writing and editing content across various areas, including personal finance and investing.