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Investment Advisor Vs Financial Planner

A few decades ago, there was confusion with what sales and marketing are. People thought they are one and the same. But it is to be understood that sales is just an important ingredient of the functions of marketing. Sales lies in persuading and convincing a person to buy a product that is suitable. Marketing involves all the activities right from the conception of the product, to branding, advertising and retailing. It is an all pervasive function from the product being ready to reach the market and ultimately to being sold to the customer.

Today here prevails a similar confusion with who is an investment advisor and who is the financial planner. It is quite common to find these terms used interchangeably, but it is necessary to understand that an investment advisor and a financial planner have the similar and vast differences as between sales and marketing.

Why is this confusion?

There is a real confusion among the investors regarding who a financial planner is and who is an investment advisor. These terms are used very loosely, so it is necessary that one understands the function of each of these professionals and approach the right people.

The main confusion in these terminologies arises out of a person’s own perception. This arises due to most professionals offering financial services like insurance advisors, mutual fund distributors and stock brokers calling themselves financial planners. This term has been used very loosely by many to suit their own convenience and image.  This is more like a compounder professing to be a doctor, when he/she knows purely only about the medicine that one has to dispense. A compounder will not have the expertise to diagnose the disease that needs to be treated.

Who is the Financial Planner?

Financial planner is involved in planning all the finances of a person. His job includes drawing up an appropriate plan that covers all financial needs and goals in the short, medium and long run. Such a planner is like an architect of a building and helps to analyze and draw a complete map of how his or her client’s finances need to be planned. It includes considering the need for liquidity, cash management for various needs, goals planning and feasibility, long term cash flow, estate planning and risk management.

Who is an Investment Advisor?

In contrast an investment advisory/advisor is a person or group that helps his client to decide on the financial products that he or she should invest in. Such an advisor understands what his or her client actually wants after communicating with him or her and understanding the need. An investment advisor makes a thorough analysis of the various securities before doing so.

Hence investment advisory is just one of the ingredients of financial planning.

Goal Achievability:

A financial planner will be able to tell you, is it possible to achieve all your financial dreams with your current and projected earning capacity. If it is not possible, then the financial planner will be able to tell you what could be achieved with your earning capacity and to achieve all your dreams what kind of earning capacity you should have.

Risk Management Plan:

A financial Plan also covers creating a risk management plan. A risk management plan includes creating an emergency reserve, assessing the human life value and suggesting a term insurance; identifying medical insurance cover required and suggesting a health insurance plan; and also suggesting a general insurance policy to cover the natural perils like fire, flood, earthquake … against your properties.

Investment Plan:

A financial plan that suggests investments comes only after all the aspects have been analyzed fully. The best investment advice can only flow out after a deep analysis of a client’s need and after the preparation of a financial plan. Financial Planning should precede the investment planning.

Existing Portfolio Revamp:

It is also necessary to understand that a financial planner also looks at past investments. He then makes necessary changes to make them amicable to achieve a client’s financial goals over a period of time. Also he will assist you in restructuring your existing outstanding loans. If necessary he will create a debt pay-off plan also.

Tax Planning:

A financial planner should assist you in creating a tax plan also. This tax plan will be in sync with your overall financial plan.


A financial planner will do a periodic review on your financial plan and investment plan. If you are preponing or postponing one of your goal or if you have got a job promotion, then you may need a financial plan review. If direct tax code has got implemented or one of your investment schemes under performing, then you may need an investment review.

In a nutshell a financial planner will not only give you an investment advice he assists you in managing your personal finance in a complete, comprehensive and a holistic way.

The author is Ramalingam.K an MBA (Finance) and certified financial planner. He is the Director & Chief Financial Planner of holistic investment planners ( a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He Can be reached at

Author Bio

Ramalingam is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners Private Limited (WEBSITE - As the creator and architect of the 3-Dimensional Holistic Investment Approach, he has advised hundreds of clients including affluent business owners, corporate e View Full Profile

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One Comment

  1. Manikaran Singal says:

    The further confusion has added by Regulator SEBI, which says that if you are a true financial planner and does financial planning for the client as has been mentioned in the article then you have to register with SEBI under SEBI Investment advisor regulations 2013 and call yourself Investment adviser. So now all financial planner has to be Investment advisors too 🙂

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June 2024