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I work for a financial services provider and we deal with "Financial Advisors" all the time. Increasingly, I'm seeing people send emails and so forth with the term "Financial Adviser" and the terms adivsor and adviser seem to be increasingly interchangeable.

Which then raises the question: what is the difference between adviser and advisor?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Both are right. This is how the Oxford dictionary entry explains the usage:

The spellings adviser and advisor are both correct. Adviser is more common, but advisor is also widely used , especially in North America. Adviser may be seen as less formal, while advisor often suggests an official position

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2  
Related post on the Separated by a common language blog: "[T]he -or form is stronger in the US than the UK, though there's considerable variation within each country." And: "[I]n my job, I advise students and convene courses, and when I spell out those roles, I'm an advisor and a convenor, but when my UK university spells them, I'm often an adviser (which just looks wrong to me) and a convener. (Incidentally, Blogger's allegedly AmE spellchecker likes the -er forms.)" –  RegDwigнt Mar 5 '11 at 22:04

I just happened to come across this issue writing a final exam for a course in international financial derivatives regulation. (For those of you who don't know what that is, it's what you do in purgatory.) Both spellings are correct. In general,"adviser" is the preferred spelling, especially in the UK. "Advisor" carries a connotation of someone whose professional capacity is to give advice. On that basis, and since my course had a strong focus on American regulation, I changed "adviser" to "advisor" regarding "very-high-net-worth individuals ... who tend to employ the service of sophisticated advisors to assess and manage their risk." If you want to know my sources, just google "adviser or advisor" like I did and you'll get them all.

Can't resist taking a swipe at the obiter on "amount" vs. "number" in the media. My two fields are English Literature and Law. Like Law, English grammar is based on rules which must be faithfully applied in order to preserve a unified fabric, but like Law, English is (forsooth) a living language. It lives and is preserved our media of communication. When the editors of the OED want to know what the "correct" usage of a certain term was in the 19th century, they turn to ... the media! I'm the first to be a stickler for good usage, but don't overdo it.

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I got my hands dirty by digging through data about how our tech society handles one word with two spellings:

Advisor or Adviser: A data-journey for one word that goes both ways

In it you'll find polarized opinions, such as:

enter image description here

And also people who couldn't care less:

enter image description here

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I'd shy away from that last fellow just for his carelessness. Seems like the kind who would leave the sugar out of lemonade. –  Oldcat Feb 27 at 17:50

The nearest reference book to my computer, the "Oxford Writers' Dictionary", says

advis/er not -or; ory

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Advisor should be the preferred spelling, consistent with other official titles:

actor convenor coordinator editor regulator

I am a professional general and scientific editor with over 40-years experience.

The tragedy is that the media often perpetuates mis-spellings and mis-use, witness the current use of 'amount' for every quantitative description, e.g. amount [sic] of people, rather than number of people.

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Your answer appears to be merely a personal opinion, and is contradicted by the authoritative references quoted in the other two answers, one of which specifically makes a distinction between US & UK usage. Which are you speaking about? Also, please confine your answers to the relevant question. I happen to agree with your comments about "amount", but it's off-topic for this question. –  TrevorD Jul 8 '13 at 11:41

I am an academic advisor. I have seen the term used both way, and after thinking about it, I think that the distinction between one who is a professional advisor and once who gives advice on an informal basis should be maintained. I had previously called myself an "adviser." Now I am an "advisor."

I should point out, however, that there is no difference in pronunciation. I would not want to assert some distinction that does not exist, as in those ridiculous advertisements that over-articulate the last syllable in "realtor." Regardless of spelling, the ultimate vowel is still a schwa.

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