Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs) tend to operate as small businesses, partnerships or sole traders and there are more than 15,000 in the UK. If you are an Ethical Consumer reader, you are almost certainly looking for someone who will respect your ethical principles and take them seriously, which may not always be the case. Fortunately, narrowing down the list of IFAs to find someone like that is easier than it used to be.
Ethical Investment Association
The Ethical Investment Association is a group of IFAs who are “keen to offer green and ethical investment advice to their clients”. It was founded in 1998 and is now a sub-group of the UKSIF – the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association. They have a list and contact details for their 49 current members (including the five 'pioneers'below) on their website.
IFAs used to focus on a specific region, but nowadays many will advise nationally.
Ethical investment pioneers
If you want to narrow this list of 49 down even further, pioneers in the field with solid reputations, and who we know at Ethical Consumer, include:
- Castlefield Advisory Partners, Manchester, London & Salisbury. 0161 233 4550
- The Ethical Investment Co-operative, York. Tel: 01748 822402
- The Ethical Investors Group, Cheltenham. Tel: 01451 850777.
- Investing Ethically, Norwich. Tel: 01603 309020
All four, as you can tell from the names, focus exclusively on ethical investment advice.
Even with ethical advisors, you do need to find someone with whom you are comfortable personally, and it may be worth trying more than one. As the following IFA customer explains:
“I had some money I wanted to invest and so I started looking for a financial advisor. I found quite a few who claimed to know about green and ethical investments but I wasn’t impressed by any of them. They explained that I could cut out certain companies, but they didn’t really seem to understand what I wanted to do. It took a while to find someone on my wavelength, but when I did, it made such a difference.”
How much does it cost?
Since January 2013 when new regulations came in, IFAs have had to charge you a fee for investment, pension and endowment advice rather than accepting commission.
You can either pay upfront for their time, probably around £100-£250 per hour, or according to Money Saving Expert you can ‘agree a commission-like fee which is taken from money you invest in a product you buy through them’.