1. Investors
  2. Getting financial advice
  3. Types of advice

Types of advice

Page last updated: 19 Mar 2018

All financial advisers in New Zealand have a legal responsibility to act with care, diligence and skill, and not act in a way that is misleading, deceptive or confusing. There are three main types of advisers to choose from.

  • Authorised Financial Advisers (AFAs)
  • Registered Financial Advisers (RFAs)
  • Qualifying Financial Entity advisers (QFE advisers)

The type of adviser you need depends on the level of advice you want and the type of products you’re interested in.

Who to talk to

For advice on....

Who to talk to...

What type of advice can they give you?

Investments like KiwiSaver, managed funds, shares, bonds, or investment planning services.

Authorised Financial Adviser (AFA)

AFAs have met minimum qualification and professional standards and are authorised by us. They can give personal advice on complex investment products and can also offer investment planning services.

Their licence will set out the types of products and services they are authorised to provide.

Insurance, mortgages or very simple investments such as bank term deposits.

Registered Financial Adviser (RFA)

RFAs can give personal advice on insurance, mortgages or more simple investments, such as bank term deposits. They’re not qualified to provide advice on complex investment products.
Products provided by a company such as a bank, including their own KiwiSaver, mortgages, term deposits (a Qualifying Financial Entity or QFE).

Qualifying Financial Entity (QFE) adviser

QFE advisers are linked to an organisation, for example, a bank. They can give personal advice only about the products they sell. This usually includes more simple products like insurance, bank term deposits or mortgages.

They can also offer advice on their own investment products, including KiwiSaver. What they cannot do, is provide you with advice about products offered by other organisations. QFE advisers must ensure they closely follow a set of professional standards as set out by the organisations they work for.  We oversee how QFEs manage their QFE advisers.


Some advisers are named by what they do – for example, mortgage adviser, investment adviser or financial planner. Some call themselves ‘brokers’ rather than advisers, particularly when dealing with products like home and car insurance, mortgages or investments like shares.

Advice from other professionals

Sometimes lawyers and accountants offer financial advice alongside the other services they provide. They’re allowed to do this, as long as they don’t only give you financial advice.

Journalists, lecturers and teachers can also give advice as part of their jobs.

Generally, if someone is providing a recommendation or opinion on buying or selling a financial product, or providing financial planning services, they have to be an authorised or legally registered financial adviser. If you’re not sure, or if you think someone is providing a financial advice service when they shouldn’t be, you can contact us for more information.

Personalised and class advice

When discussing the level of advice you need, your adviser may talk about ‘personalised’ or ‘class’ advice.

Personalised advice is tailored to your personal circumstances. This means your adviser can help you weigh up whether to invest in a product and whether that product is suitable for you.

As you’ll be receiving personalised financial advice, you can expect your adviser has taken your personal situation and goals into account. Your adviser will give you an opinion about whether a particular product is right for you. You should then consider this advice.

Class advice is where the adviser will be able to advise you about what is usually suitable for people in your group or 'class'. It does not take into account your individual needs and your personal situation.

You can use the generic advice to form your own opinion about whether a product is right for you personally.

Personalised digital financial advice

Personalised financial advice uses information about your individual financial situation or goals to make recommendations that meet your needs.

In New Zealand, you can get personalised financial advice by speaking to a human adviser or through a website or software application (also known as digital or robo advice). Digital advice is automated advice generated by a computer program using algorithms, based on the information you provide.

All providers have to be approved by us before they can offer personalised digital advice services to New Zealanders. The names of approved providers can be found on the NZ legislation website here.

If you use a personalised digital advice tool or platform offered by a provider that hasn’t been approved by us – which could include using a website offered by an offshore provider – we may not be able to help you if something goes wrong.

Some providers already offer ‘class’ advice through digital tools similar to Sorted’s Investor KickStarter. These tools offer generic advice and do not take into account your individual needs and personal situation.