It is not uncommon to seek assistance with your finances. Like many things in life a third-party opinion can help you become more informed and guide you towards making a decision. When it comes to finding information related to financial planning matters, you are likely to find options for both financial guidance and financial advice – but what is the difference?

What is the difference between financial advice and financial guidance?


Before proceeding it is important to understand the differences between the two, as they will impact you and your financial planning journey in different ways. The one you decide to take will depend on your circumstances and the financial objectives you are hoping to achieve.

Financial guidance tends to be an information-based offering, which is designed to aid you when making your own decisions. It provides an introduction to what may be available and will allow you to form your own opinion. Various sources will give you a range of information and suggestions in relation to the options available. It will not be specific to your personal circumstances but will provide a coherent overview and general understanding. Guidance is helpful for building the foundations of your financial knowledge.

Financial advice is multi-faceted. Put simply, it is a curated plan put together by a qualified and regulated financial planner. It is an in-depth analysis of your personal financial circumstances and needs, and considers your future goals and objectives, as well as your attitude to risk and capacity for loss. Financial advice will help you to choose the most appropriate options for you, depending on your unique circumstances. Your financial plan will be reviewed and amended over time, as your relationship with your adviser develops and your circumstances change.




Can be given by anyone; friends, family, colleagues, professional individuals and various websites etc

Given by a qualified and regulated individual/organisation

Can provide information about various financial products and situations

Provides specialised, in depth advice on financial solutions personal to your situation

Usually free to access unless clearly stated

A fee is normally applied to advice given

Provides one off support for individual events/situations

Can build a long-term relationship with your adviser who will provide a personal touch

Guidance is unregulated

Advice is regulated and covered by complaint and compensation services should you ever need these

Relies on your personal opinion to guide your decisions and provides suggestions

Can answer specific questions you may have and provide recommendations specific to your circumstances


Does not require Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) authorisation

Can only be provided through FCA approved firms and qualified individuals

Useful for gathering information on a topic

Useful for people looking to make a decision


Making a decision


You will need to decide whether guidance provides you with enough information to enable you to make decisions regarding your finances or if personal financial advice would be more appropriate.

Some financial advisers will offer a fee free initial consultation which could help you decide if their services are more appropriate to your situation and if you would like to fully engage with their advice. This gives you an opportunity to better assess what you are hoping to achieve and the best way to do this. It will allow you to understand exactly the level of intervention which may be necessary to make a success of your finances. You may realise that guidance provides enough information for your situation, but it is important to make sure you evaluate all your options before making key financial decisions.


Choosing the right financial planner for you


It is important when choosing your financial planner that you evaluate a wide range of factors before making a final decision. There are steps you can take to make sure you find the financial planner who is most suited to you and your circumstances, but who will also conduct themselves professionally and effectively. These include:

  • Doing your research – take time to understand those offering financial planning near you and whether an independent or restricted adviser would be best for you, you can find out more about independent vs restricted advice here.
  • Consult the FCA register – this will allow you to check credentials of the firms you are interested in
  • Make use of free consultations – meet with potential planners to find out if they are a good fit for you
  • Read reviews – find out what they client’s think of them, it will give you a good indication of their abilities
  • Ask friends and family – take advantage of those whose opinion you trust
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for more information about the firm to reassure you, which could include financial information.

Important information

This is solely for informational purposes and nothing in it is intended to constitute advice or a recommendation. 

While considerable care has been taken to ensure this information is accurate and up-to-date, no warranty is given as to its accuracy.

This article constitutes a financial promotion.

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