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Independent Financial Advisers (IFA's) VS Restricted Advisers

If you are receiving advice around investing your money whether in your pension, Individual savings account (ISA) or another investment avenue; you need to understand the difference between an independent and restricted adviser, and how this can affect the advice given.

Several advisers will be restricted, offering advice on a limited selection of products and/or providers. An independent financial adviser will rigorously assess all products and/or providers to offer a full range of financial advice.

Both types of adviser are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and must pass the same qualifications to meet the requirements to give advice. However, knowledge of providers and products may differ due to the depth of knowledge required by an independent financial adviser to advise on the whole market. Some examples of restricted adviser companies include St. James’s Place Wealth Management, Quilter plc and most banks. An independent financial advisory firm is any firm that can describe themselves as 'independent' in line with FCA regulations, such as Bluecoat Wealth Management.

An adviser or firm is obliged by the FCA to inform you whether they are an independent or restricted adviser in writing, normally at the start of the initial meeting or beforehand. If you are unsure ask your adviser for more information.

FCA’s definitions of an independent and restricted adviser

Independent advisers

An adviser or firm that provides independent advice is able to consider and recommend all types of retail investment products that could meet your needs and objectives.

Independent advisers will also consider products from all firms across the market, and have to give unbiased and unrestricted advice.

An independent adviser may also be called an 'independent financial adviser' or 'IFA'.

Restricted advisers

A restricted adviser or firm can only recommend certain products, product providers, or both.

The adviser or firm has to clearly explain the nature of the restriction. If you are not sure you should ask for further information, but some examples of restricted advice are where:

  • the adviser works with one product provider and only considers products that the company offers

  • the adviser considers products from several – but not all – product providers

  • the adviser can recommend one or some types of products, but not all retail investment products

  • the adviser has chosen to focus on a particular market, such as pensions, and considers products from all providers within that market

Restricted advisers and firms cannot describe the advice they offer as 'independent'.

(FCA website, Types of investment adviser, last updated 23/02/2018)

There are advantages to both methods of advising, however, we believe to find the best products for our client, we need to assess all products and providers. If you would like further information please contact us at or visit our website

Articles on this website are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. They are not offered as and do not constitute financial advice. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking advice from a professional. Past performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated. Capital is at risk; investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise.


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