Choose an IFA

Buying and selling a home can be a complicated business. One way to reduce the headache is to use the services offered by an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA).

An IFA is able to offer you unbiased financial advice on products across a wide range of financial offerings including mortgages. IFAs differ from non-independent advisers in that they are not tied into promoting the offerings of one or a limited number of financial services companies.

Once you have decided to investigate using an IFA, your next task is to line up some suitable options. Asking friends or relatives for recommendations is as good a place to start as any. However, while this can provide some comfort, your financial circumstances and needs are likely to be very different from theirs.

If the friends and relatives approach doesn’t yield any potential candidates, your next best option is to get online. Well known sites like and others will help to point you in the right direction. Another site, has a ‘find an IFA’ service to locate IFAs in your area who are best suited to your individual financial needs. The search facility is easy to use, and allows you to choose an IFA based on a range of criteria. Most importantly, the search is free and confidential.

When selecting a potential IFA, suggests taking a number of criteria into consideration:

Location: is it important to have your IFA’s office near your home or your place of work?

Areas of expertise: some advisers focus on particular product areas, so take care to choose the right one for your specific needs.

Qualifications: you can select an IFA based on their advanced qualifications across a range of products or a particular product area.

Online presence: is it important that your IFA has a website and can communicate via email?

Philosophy: you may want to deal with an IFA who focuses on ethical investments.

Type of IFA: would you prefer a male or female IFA? You can select an IFA on this basis, depending on who you feel more comfortable seeking advice from.

Once you have identified some candidates, your next step is to make an appointment. Make sure you prepare before your meeting and have details of basic information to hand. This should include your salary/joint salaries, the amount you would like to borrow, any investments or insurance policies you have and, most importantly, some idea of the type of mortgage and repayment terms you are looking for. If you have very specific mortgage requirements, it is most likely that you will need to deal exclusively through an adviser to find the mortgage solution that you need.

Questions you should consider asking the adviser

  • Is the adviser fully independent or tied to the products of a particular financial services company?
  • Ask your adviser to explain his/her qualifications.
  • Can they provide testimonials from existing clients?
  • How does the adviser get paid? Do they charge fees, earn commission from product sales or a combination of both?
  • Will they rebate any commission to clients?
  • Will they continue to offer advice after the initial consultation?

Due to the effort required to find and then establish a relationship with an IFA, most people tend to stick with their adviser for an extended period. Acknowledging this fact is important. Make sure you are comfortable with your choice as you are likely to be disclosing important financial and personal information to whoever you decide to go with.

One of the big advantages of using a financial adviser is that your mortgage application is more likely to be dealt with quickly and efficiently than if you were dealing directly with a lender. They will take care of the vast majority of the paperwork and will have intimate knowledge of each lender’s specific criteria. In addition, because your adviser will have dealt with applications like yours many times over, they will be able to use their contacts to ensure a good level of service and a quick response to your application.

Discussing your finances with a professional can seem daunting at first, but doing so can provide a level of comfort that you might not get by doing things yourself.