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What’s the Difference Between a Financial Planner and Financial Adviser?

In this blog, Dennis Hall delves into the world of financial services and explores the distinctions between financial planners and financial advisers, offering insight into their roles and responsibilities. From deciding between comprehensive planning and focused investments to understanding when to seek their expertise, making informed decisions about your wealth begins with understanding these key differences.

Financial Planner Vs Adviser: What’s the difference?

There is no legal definition of what a Financial Planner is compared to a Financial Adviser so the terms are often used interchangeably. Financial planners and financial advisers therefore tend to ‘self-identify’ as one or the other, representing their particular approach to working with their clients. A financial planner typically focuses on comprehensive financial planning, considering various aspects of a client’s financial life. On the other hand, a financial adviser tends to concentrate on specific aspects or transactions of a client’s financial situation.  To make informed decisions about wealth management, it’s essential to grasp the fundamental differences between these professionals.

Is it better to work with a Financial Adviser or a Financial Planner?

Determining whether a financial planner or a financial adviser is more suitable for your needs depends on your specific financial goals and priorities. Both approaches are useful  but their emphasis varies. If you prioritise a holistic approach to financial planning that encompasses budgeting, insurance, retirement planning, and tax strategies, a financial planner might be the better fit. Conversely, if your primary concern is just looking at a particular aspect, such as arranging life insurance or organising your pension,  a financial adviser could be the more appropriate choice. The key lies in aligning your preferences with the core strengths of each role.


Through detailed cash flow modelling, we create financial strategies that not only meet immediate needs but also sculpt a resilient future, ensuring your financial goals remain within reach and adaptable.
Dennis Hall - Founder & Chartered Financial Planner, Yellowtail

What is a Financial Planner and what do they do?

Financial planners are financial professionals who specialise in comprehensive financial planning. They work closely with clients to develop a thorough understanding of their financial goals, risk tolerance, and overall financial situation. The scope of a financial planner’s work typically includes budgeting, insurance planning, retirement planning, tax strategies, and estate planning. By considering the broader financial landscape, they can create a customised roadmap to help clients achieve their long-term objectives.

For instance, if a business owner is planning for retirement and wants to ensure a smooth transition of assets to the next generation, a financial planner would analyse the current financial situation, assess potential risks, and create a strategy that includes retirement savings, insurance coverage, and estate planning.

When would I need to see a Financial Planner?

  1. Approaching Retirement: If retirement is on the horizon, engaging a financial planner is crucial. They help assess your financial readiness, create retirement income plans, and ensure you have sufficient resources to maintain your desired lifestyle.
  2. Major Life Events: Whether getting married, starting a family, or facing a divorce, significant life events necessitate financial adjustments. A financial planner guides you through these transitions, addressing financial implications and adjusting your plan accordingly.
  3. Business Transitions: Entrepreneurs and business owners benefit from financial planners during business transitions, such as selling a business or planning for succession. Planners assist in optimising the financial outcomes of these complex processes.
  4. Inheritance or Windfall: Receiving a substantial inheritance or windfall requires careful financial planning. A financial planner can help you manage the new-found wealth effectively, addressing tax implications, investment strategies, and long-term financial goals.
  5. Complex Financial Situations: When facing intricate financial scenarios, such as managing diverse investments, navigating tax complexities, or addressing estate planning intricacies, a financial planner’s expertise becomes invaluable. Their guidance ensures you make informed decisions aligned with your overall financial objectives.
  6. Ongoing Monitoring and Adjustments: Continuous engagement with a financial planner is essential for ongoing monitoring and adjustments to your financial plan. Life circumstances, market conditions, and economic shifts may necessitate modifications to your strategy. A financial planner ensures that your plan remains aligned with your goals through regular reviews, making necessary changes to optimise financial outcomes.
Ongoing reviews are the linchpin of our commitment to clients. By vigilantly tracking your financial plan, we ensure it evolves with life’s changes, optimising strategies for a resilient and prosperous future.
Dennis Hall

What is a Financial Adviser and what do they do?

In contrast to financial planners, financial advisers primarily focus on specific aspects of a client’s needs such as life insurance or pensions.  They analyse the market, evaluate  options, and give advice tailored to a client’s specific financial objectives and risk tolerance. Financial advisers are well-versed in helping their clients navigate the complexities of the financial markets and help find the right financial product for their needs.

For instance, if a client has a mix of legacy pension plans, having worked for several previous employers, a financial adviser may recommend a single plan to consolidate and simplify their retirement options.

When would I need to see a Financial Adviser?

  1. Tax  Optimisation: Engage a financial adviser when focused on achieving tax-efficiency from savings and investments. Finding the right Individual Savings Account or pension plan to meet your needs is something a financial adviser can do.
  2. Insurance Needs: If you need life insurance or critical illness cover, whether to protect your family or your business,  a financial adviser assists in finding the right policies at the right price.
  3. Getting a Mortgage: A financial adviser may also hold mortgage qualifications and can help you obtain the right mortgage, whether that is remortgaging an existing property, or a new purchase. They will have knowledge of the current market and help you find the right mortgage deal.
  4. Specialised Investment Strategies: When seeking specialised investment strategies, such as socially responsible investing, impact investing, or other niche approaches, a financial adviser with expertise in these areas can provide tailored guidance to align your investments with your values and preferences.
  5. Help with Legacy Investments: If you have older investments that you don’t understand, such as insurance company investment bonds, or older style pensions,  a financial adviser can help you understand what you can and cannot do to help you get the best out of your money.
  6. Complex Investment Vehicles: Engaging a financial adviser is essential when dealing with complex investment vehicles, such as Venture Capital Trusts or Enterprise Investment Schemes.  Their expertise helps you navigate the intricacies of these instruments, ensuring informed investment decisions.

How do I decide if I need a Financial Planner or Adviser?

The decision between a financial planner and a financial adviser depends on your financial objectives, preferences, and the complexity of your financial situation. If you prioritise a comprehensive approach that encompasses various financial aspects, a financial planner may be more suitable. On the other hand, if your primary focus is on a specific transaction or problem, a financial adviser might be the better choice.

This is an image of someone receiving financial advice.

How do I find the right Financial Planner or Adviser?

Finding the right financial planner or adviser requires a bit of research and consideration. Seek recommendations from trusted sources – friends, family, or professional networks – and check for credentials such as Chartered Financial Planner or Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designations. Explore online platforms that connect individuals with reputable financial professionals. And choose someone who has experience in addressing situations like yours and has a transparent fee structure.

What questions should I be asking a Financial Planner or Adviser when I first engage with them?

Initiating a conversation with a financial planner or adviser should involve asking pertinent questions to gauge their suitability for your needs. Discuss their approach, the services they offer, and how they tailor their strategies to individual clients. Clarify their fee structure, including any potential hidden costs. Understanding their communication methods and frequency of updates is crucial for maintaining a transparent and collaborative relationship.

How much does a Financial Planner or Adviser cost?

Understanding the costs associated with financial planning or advisory services is vital to making an informed decision. Financial planners may charge fees based on an hourly rate, a flat fee, or a percentage of assets under management. Financial advisers are also fee based though may also earn commission on some mortgage or insurance based products.

Learn more about how the pricing for our Financial Planning works.

What are the alternatives to a Financial Planner or Adviser?

While financial planners and advisers offer valuable expertise, there are alternative approaches to managing wealth. Robo-advisors, for example, use algorithms to automate investment decisions based on predetermined criteria. These platforms often come with lower fees but lack the personalised touch of a human adviser. Another option is a DIY approach, where individuals independently research and make financial decisions. This approach requires a deep understanding of financial markets and investment strategies, making it suitable for those with the expertise and time to manage their financial affairs independently.

In conclusion, choosing between a financial planner and a financial adviser depends on your specific needs, financial goals, and preferences. Both play vital roles in wealth management, and a well-informed decision can lead to a successful and fulfilling financial journey.

Successful retirement planning involves more than numbers; it's about crafting a strategy that marries your financial resources with your aspirations, allowing you to embrace this new chapter with confidence and security.
Dennis Hall


Founded by Dennis Hall, Yellowtail are the trusted financial planners who advise affluent individuals & families in the South West and across the UK. Yellowtail’s experts provide the clarity, control and confidence to guide you through financial planning, estate planning, pension transfers and investment management directing your journey towards a prosperous retirement and financial peace of mind.