Why choosing an Independent Financial Advisor is important


Singapore is known for its thriving financial industry, with a vast array of financial advisors offering a range of services to clients. However, not all financial advisors are created equal. Some are tied to specific financial institutions, while others are independent.

Why choosing an Independent Financial Advisor is important — Engage

Imagine your life is a journey and your goal is to climb the summit or peak of a mountain. Engaging a good financial advisor is like hiring an awesome mountain guide that will trek the mountain with you, advise you on the appropriate gear, how much to spend on the gear, what are the rations to bring etc; and prior to your trip sit down with you to explain the trekking guide, what are the potholes to look out for, what are the dangers and when is a good time to set up camp. Now imagine your guide is able to procure equipment from multiple sources, compare this to the guide that is able to procure the equipment from their parent company, or a guide that is just going through with the motion as they are paid a salary, and they just want to get the job done. The list goes on, we hope that with this simple analogy you’ll be able to get a glimpse of why it’s important to engage the right guide. 

In this article, we’ll explore the world of independent financial advisors in Singapore. We’ll take a closer look at what they do, where they came from, and why they differ from the rest of the financial advisors in Singapore.

According to estimates, there are between 20,000 to 30,000 practitioners in the financial advisory industry in Singapore, serving a population of around five million people [2]. This number includes representatives from different types of financial institutions that offer financial advice on investments and life insurance products. These could be licensed financial advisory firms, banks, insurance companies, insurance brokers, or brokerages [4].

Among the different types of financial advisors, there are tied agents who represent a single brand of insurer and are only authorized to sell products from that firm [9]. The number of tied agents in Singapore is estimated to have remained at about 13,000 to 14,000 over the last 10 years [10].

On the other hand, the number of financial adviser representatives has increased significantly over the years. In 2002, there were only a few hundred financial advisers, but this number has grown to over 2,000 in about 10 years. Today, there are around 3,000 to 3,500 financial advisers in Singapore [10].

It is worth noting that the financial advisory industry in Singapore is facing a crisis of trust. According to a recent study by the CFA Institute of Singapore, only about 10% of respondents believe that financial advisers put their clients’ interests first, while less than 50% of people trust the industry as a whole [5].

In terms of the total demographics of financial advisors in Singapore, there is no publicly available data on the percentages that belong to tied agencies, insurance companies, and independent financial advisory firms. Nonetheless, the industry regulator, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), sets common requirements and regulations that apply to all market intermediaries engaging in financial advisory services to maintain consistent professional standards across the industry [8].

What is an Independent Financial Advisor?

An independent financial advisor is a professional who offers unbiased financial advice to clients. Unlike advisors who are tied to specific financial institutions, independent advisors are free to recommend products and services from a wide range of providers. This means they can offer truly objective advice that is tailored to the individual needs of each client.

The concept of IFAs quickly spread to other parts of the world, including Singapore. In Singapore, the financial industry has long been dominated by large financial institutions, many of which have their own in-house financial advisory teams. However, as the industry has grown and become more complex, there has been a growing demand for independent financial advice.

Where Did Independent Financial Advisors Come From?

Independent financial advisors first emerged in the UK in the 1980s, in response to concerns about conflicts of interest in the financial industry. Over time, the concept spread to other parts of the world, including Singapore. Today, there are many independent financial advisors operating in Singapore, offering a range of services to clients.

The emergence of IFAs in Singapore has been driven by a number of factors. One of the key drivers has been increased awareness among consumers of the potential conflicts of interest that can arise when financial advisors are tied to specific financial institutions. This has led many consumers to seek out independent advisors who can offer truly objective advice that is not influenced by any particular financial institution

Another factor driving the growth of IFAs in Singapore has been the increasing complexity of the financial industry. With so many different types of financial products and services available, it can be difficult for consumers to navigate the market and make informed decisions. IFAs can help to simplify the process by providing unbiased advice and helping clients to identify the products and services that best suit their needs.

Why Are Independent Financial Advisors Different?

One of the key differences between independent financial advisors and other types of advisors in Singapore is their ability to offer truly objective advice. Tied advisors, for example, may be limited in the products and services they can recommend, as they are often incentivised to promote specific products from their affiliated financial institution. This can create conflicts of interest that may not be in the best interests of the client.

Independent financial advisors, on the other hand, are not tied to any particular financial institution, and are free to recommend products and services that best suit the needs of their clients. This means they can offer truly personalised advice that is tailored to each individual’s unique financial situation.

Objective advice:

One example of how an independent financial advisor in Singapore can provide objective advice is through the recommendation of investment products. An IFA does not have any financial incentive to recommend one investment product over another, unlike advisors tied to specific financial institutions who may push their own products. For example, an IFA may recommend a diversified portfolio of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that aligns with the client’s risk tolerance and investment goals, rather than a single fund offered by their employer.

In addition to offering unbiased advice, independent financial advisors in Singapore also typically have a high level of expertise and experience in the financial industry. They may have worked for large financial institutions in the past, and have a deep understanding of the financial landscape in Singapore.

A case study of how an IFA in Singapore can provide tailored solutions is by working with a client who is an expat. The IFA can help the client navigate complex tax laws, retirement planning, and investment strategies, taking into account the client’s unique financial situation and goals. For example, the IFA may recommend investment products that are tax-efficient in both Singapore and the client’s home country, such as certain types of mutual funds or insurance-linked investment products.

Specialised expertise:

An example of how an IFA in Singapore can provide specialised expertise is by working with high net worth individuals who have complex financial needs. The IFA can help these clients with estate planning, tax optimisation, and investment strategies that are tailored to their specific financial situation. For example, the IFA may recommend alternative investments, such as private equity or hedge funds, that are typically only available to accredited investors and may offer higher returns than traditional investments.

Cost-effective solutions:

A case study of how an IFA in Singapore can provide cost-effective solutions is by helping a client with debt management. The IFA can review the client’s debts, such as credit card balances or personal loans, and recommend a plan to pay them off as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. For example, the IFA may recommend consolidating high-interest debts into a single loan with a lower interest rate, such as a personal line of credit, which can save the client money on interest payments over time.

Long-term relationship:

An example of how an IFA in Singapore can build a long-term relationship with a client is by providing ongoing financial planning and support as the client’s needs and goals evolve over time. For example, the IFA may help the client plan for major life events, such as buying a home or starting a family, and adjust their financial plan accordingly. The IFA may also provide regular updates on the performance of the client’s investments and recommend adjustments to their portfolio as needed. 

Here’s a piece of information that most who are not in the industry will not know. The one concern that people have will be wondering if their advisor is going to be around in 2 – 10 years. The turnover in the financial services industry is high and the average advisor who is not doing well will often stay in the industry for approximately 3 years before either leaving for greener pastures or for another company who has offered them better incentive to jump ship. This causes lots of confusion, loss of trust in the system, in the company people have invested their money into and the effort spent on planning their finances with an advisor. 

While there are many financial advisors in Singapore, finding a reliable and trustworthy one can be challenging. It is essential to do your research and consider factors such as their qualifications, experience, and track record before making a decision. Some of the top financial advisors in Singapore include Providend, Financial Alliance, and Endowus, among others [5][7][10]. It is also worth noting that financial advisors can earn a substantial income in Singapore, with the average pay for financial consultants or advisors around $4,366 per month [9].

How do you distinguish between a good financial advisor from who is just looking to make a sale?

Finding a good financial advisor in Singapore can be a daunting task, as there are many professionals in the industry. However, distinguishing a good financial advisor from someone who is just looking to make a sale is essential to ensure that your financial needs are met. Here are some tips based on the provided search results:

Look for someone who understands your needs:

A good financial advisor must understand your financial goals and tailor their advice accordingly. They should listen to your concerns and provide personalized solutions [1].

Check for qualifications and expertise:

A good financial advisor must have relevant qualifications and expertise in the areas that you need assistance with. They should also have a good track record and a solid understanding of the financial products that they are recommending to you [1][2].

Assess their services:

Look for a financial advisor who offers the services that you need, both financially and non-financially. They should also be transparent about their fees and charges, and willing to explain their services in detail [3][4].

Find someone who prioritises your interests:

A good financial advisor should prioritize your interests above their own. They should also be willing to disclose any conflicts of interest that may arise during the course of their work [5][10].

Assess their character traits:

Look for a financial advisor who has positive character traits such as integrity, empathy, and good communication skills. These traits can help build trust and rapport, which is essential for a good working relationship [6]. If you meet an advisor who is only interested in talking about their products or themselves and what they’ve achieved, this is a clear indication that they are self absorbed, it’s not about you, it’s about them. If they ask very surface questions about your situation, and casually brush it off, you know they’re not the one for you. If they can’t remember simple details about your life, you can tell they’re not listening to you. 

Do your homework:

Research and vet potential financial advisors by reading reviews and checking their credentials. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions to clarify any doubts that you may have [7][8].


If you’re looking for objective, unbiased financial advice in Singapore, an independent financial advisor may be the right choice for you. These professionals are not tied to any particular financial institution, and can offer personalised advice that is tailored to your unique needs. So, if you’re ready to take control of your finances and make informed decisions about your future, consider reaching out to me today for a free consultation. 

Important: The information and opinions in this article are for general information purposes only. They should not be relied on as professional financial advice. Readers should seek independent financial advice that is customised to their specific financial objectives, situations & needs. This advertisement or publication has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Published By:

Maximilan Tung

As an independent financial advisor, I am passionate about helping my clients navigate the often complex and overwhelming world of personal finance. With a diverse set of experiences and qualifications, I am able to provide a tailored approach to each individual’s unique financial situation. My mission is to educate and empower my clients, so they can make informed decisions about their money and work towards achieving their financial goals. Whether you are looking to invest, plan for retirement, or simply gain a better understanding of your finances, I am here to help. Let’s connect and start the conversation about your financial future.


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