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Financial advisers

If you're really worried about the state of your finances then you may be thinking about getting some professional help. This may make sense. But you do need to be aware that not all financial advisers are equal.

For starters, you'll need to ensure that you're doing to an adviser who can help with the area that you're most interested in. Some may be experts when it comes to pensions, for example, but know relatively little about investments. Some will largely specialise in mortgages and loans.

So it's important that you make sure that you know that the person that you're talking to has the right level of expertise.

What about when it comes to bias? It would be nice if you didn't have to worry about this at all, but it's unfortunately true that some advice may not be as objective as you might like. That's because some advisers offer a "free" service to clients like you and me. They can often do this because they get paid a commission when they sell a particular financial product (such as a mortgage).

Is this a problem? Not necessarily. If you want to take advantage of getting free advice then it may actually be in your interest that a financial services company is effectively footing the bill. But the problem could arise if an adviser starts recommending particular products based on the size of commission available, rather than the suitability of an individual product.

That's why it's always worth confirming that any comparisons carried out by a financial adviser cover all products that are on the market. If a financial adviser is only ever looking at products that are being sold on behalf of two or three companies, then this doesn't seem like a particularly independent approach.

It's always worth asking questions, rather than blindly accepting advice. Make sure that you are getting good quality advice that really is objective. If an adviser is being paid a fee when recommending a particular product or service, then you should expect them to be open about this fact.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask for confirmation of credentials. Don't be afraid to get the advice of more than one expert if you want.

A financial adviser can help to get your finances in order. But make sure that you're talking to someone who can help with your particular issues.