Free help (also known as financial guidance) – What could you do with your money?
Financial guidance is free and aims to help you understand what you could do with your money, by explaining your options and things you should consider. It won’t tell you what you should do with your money. If you’d like someone to tell you what you should do, you’ll typically need to pay for this service, and this is explained in more detail below.
Financial guidance is still very valuable. It provides us with a map to help us navigate our finances. And it’s typically free, so what’s to lose?
You can access financial guidance from several different sources. We’ve given an outline of the four most popular below:
- Your financial services provider, such as Aviva - By contacting your financial services provider, they’ll usually offer free guidance. This may be in the form of written information, but some providers now employ people to help you navigate this guidance - also for free. In effect, your provider will usually offer you a free money map and may even offer you someone to help read it. If you’re interested, contact your provider and ask them what ‘free financial guidance’ services they have available.
- Money Advice Service - This is a free and impartial service set up by the government. The Money Advice Service provides a wide range of information to help you with your finances. You’ll find useful tools, calculators and guides on their website, and there’s a phone number you can call if you want to speak with them.
- Pensions Advisory Service - If you have specific questions about pensions, the government-backed Pensions Advisory Service is there for you. And it’s free. It’s staffed by pension experts, and their financial guidance can be accessed via their website or over the phone.
- Pension Wise - This is another free and impartial government service. If you’re aged 50 or over and considering accessing your pension savings, Pension Wise is there to help. From the age of 55 you’re usually able to access your private pension savings. But this is a significant decision which should be carefully considered. This is where Pension Wise comes in. It’ll explain your options - and can be accessed via its website or over the phone.
- You should always make sure you’re confident that any advice you get is from a fully regulated financial adviser otherwise you won't benefit from the protections that this service should give you. To check whether the firm or adviser you're dealing with is fully regulated, you can check on the financial service register here https://register.fca.org.uk/
Each of these sources of financial guidance can tell you – based on the information you provide - what you could do with your money. They will not tell you what you should do.
A final word of caution about financial guidance. Many people seek financial guidance from their friends and family. It’s understandable that you turn to those you trust the most in times of need. And that friends and family will want to do their best to help.
But the needs and priorities that have directed the actions of them may be very different to your own. So, whilst it’s often good to listen to the experiences of others close to you, it’s important to consider that what was right for them may not be right for you. And it’s your money after all.
Paid for help (also known as financial advice) – What should you do with your money?
If you want someone to tell you what you should do with your money, you’ll typically have to pay for that valuable service. And this is called financial advice.
Unlike financial guidance, which provides general information, financial advice will provide a personal recommendation - tailored to your own specific needs and priorities. Given the personalised nature, and the valuable skills and experience the adviser has, it's a service that is paid for.
This payment brings three strong benefits:
- Expertise - It secures the expertise of the financial adviser, based on professional qualifications and experience, as they examine your own personal needs and priorities.
- Peace of mind - It brings peace of mind that your money should be heading in a good direction.
- Protection - It provides legal protection against any actions you follow. If you follow the direction of a financial adviser, and it’s subsequently judged that the adviser failed in their duties, you could be eligible for financial compensation.
The cost of financial advice depends upon the size and complexity of the advice sought. But the good news is that advisers will be very happy to explain their ways of working and their prices.
A good adviser will recognise that their client may be seeking reassurance and should put you at ease. And there are many financial advisers to choose from. So, you should feel confident in your ability to shop around to find the adviser that is right for you.
If you don’t have a financial adviser and are interested in exploring this option, four ways of finding an adviser that’s right for you are outlined below. And remember, like buying any service, you should feel entitled to shop around.
- Your financial services provider - If you contact your financial services provider, they should be able to point you in the direction of sources of financial advice. If you are an Aviva customer, call us on 0800 302 9656 (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm) to find out more.
- The Money Advice Service - The government-backed Money Advice Service presents an online directory of financial advisers from across the country.
- Unbiased.co.uk - This independent organisation specialises in financial advice and presents an online directory of financial advisers from across the country.
- Word of mouth - Your friends and family may have had a positive experience with a financial adviser. But remember it’s your money and what was right for them may not be right for you.
The B-side of the Beatles’ album “Help!” included the iconic song, “Yesterday”. By seeking the right help for you – whether that’s financial guidance, or financial advice - all your money worries will hopefully seem “far away” and not “here to stay”.