Advice on investments is widely available. Financial planners, insurance companies, sharebrokers, banks and financial advisers are all more than happy to tell us where to invest and what to invest in  – especially when they’re selling us something. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if we’re being told or sold! A good place to start is to check whether the adviser is licensed to provide what we need.

Who to talk to

This depends on what sort of advice you’re looking for.

For advice on...

Talk to:

Investments like KiwiSaver, managed funds, shares or bonds

an Authorised Financial Adviser (AFA)

Very simple investments such as bank term deposits

a Registered Financial Adviser (RFA)

Products provided by a company such as a bank (a Qualifying Financial Entity)

a Qualifying Financial Entity (QFE) adviser


There’s more about the different types of advisers on the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) website.

What a financial adviser must tell you

All financial advisers must disclose certain information about the services they provide in a disclosure statement. The information the disclosure statement must contain depends on the type of adviser.

AFAs and RFAs must give out printed disclosure statements. An adviser should hand over this statement without being prompted to do so, before offering any advice, and before taking any payment.

AFAs must also give out a second disclosure statement spelling out the fees they charge, what commission or other incentives they receive, and anything else that might influence the advice they give and the products they recommend.

The FMA website has some some good tips to consider when choosing an adviser and more about knowing your investments.


Finding a financial adviser


It's important to shop around to find a financial adviser we feel confident in.

Who doesn't need to be listed

Tip: If an adviser is not on the Financial Service Providers register when they should be, you need to be cautious about taking their advice. 

QFE advisers don’t have to be listed individually on the register, but the company they work for must be there.

People such as lawyers, accountants, teachers and journalists don't need to be registered as financial advisers. However, their advice is likely to be very general rather than about specific investment products.

Questions to ask a financial adviser

The FMA has a brochure of five important questions to ask a financial adviser before getting started.

If you need to complain

If you can’t sort out a problem directly with your financial adviser, you can complain to their dispute resolution scheme (at no cost).

If you feel an adviser is not behaving professionally or not putting your interests first, you can also complain directly to the FMA.