The Difference Between Financial Advisers & Consultants

by Linda Ray

Financial advisers who sell financial instruments, such as stocks or insurance policies, must have the requisite licenses. Most financial advisers claim credentials that associate them with various associations and accreditation boards. Consultants, on the other hand, typically do not have to present licenses to provide advice. Instead, they might refer you to a financial adviser based on your needs.


The consulting services industry is a growing field and employs a wide range of professionals with various levels of expertise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consulting industry is expected to grow by about 80 percent between 2008 and 2018, representing the fastest growing field of employment. Consultants typically offer a wide range of services that cover many operations. You might hire a consultant to look over your entire organization -- including marketing, finances, organizational processes and inventory control.

Financial Adviser

A financial adviser typically looks over your personal finances to make recommendations. A financial adviser may look at your retirement plans, investments for your children and their future or your current portfolio. Financial advisers with specific licenses may broker stock sales for you or sell you insurance policies. A business, on the other hand, most likely uses a financial analyst to pour over the company finances to make recommendations about taxes and where you could make changes to improve profits.


Consultants offer more generalized services while financial advisers are more focused. Consultants need to have a broad overview of your business as well as your personal stake in the company. The financial adviser sticks to the value of your personal net worth. While you may be heavily invested in your business, a financial adviser also takes into consideration your personal long-term retirement plans and your family affairs.

Shared Skills

Both financial advisers and consultants must employ effective communication skills. They need to present complex financial terms and ideas into language that a lay person can understand. Consultants and financial advisers often are self-employed and need to be able to market their services effectively to thrive. They often work in tandem with other professionals to provide each other with referrals and complementary services. For example, a consultant who works with your small business may refer you to a financial adviser to take care of your personal finances.

About the Author

Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

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