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Finding the right Financial Advisor for you can be a difficult task. After all how on earth do you know who to trust? And just because someone might be trustworthy do they really have all the answers to the questions that you need help with? What level of experience do they have? And more importantly are they really operating in your best interest or are they just looking out for themselves? As if these were not enough concerns you also have to worry about how ethical your advisor is. You don’t want to find yourself working with the next Bernie Madoff who runs off with all of your money or is using your valuable assets to fund his or her next big Ponzi scheme. So how do you sort through all of the options and find the right Advisor for you?
Let’s look at 3 things to pay attention to when selecting the right Financial Advisor for you and your family. First how do you know they are legitimate, second how do you know they have your best interest at heart, and third how do you know they will be a good fit for you? Let’s explore all three of these questions in some detail to help you get the help you need.
So how do you do your due diligence and make sure an Advisor you are thinking of working with is actually a legitimate Financial Advisors with verifiable experience and up to date licenses? The first place you might want to check is a web site called Broker Check. You can just search Broker Check to find the official website. This website has a free tool to research the background and experience of financial brokers, advisors and firms. Broker check can tell you instantly whether a person is registered as required by law to sell securities offer investment advice or both. Broker check also gives you a snap shot of an Advisor’s employment history, licensing information and regulatory actions, arbitrations and complaints. Wouldn’t this be good information to have before entering into a relationship with an Advisor?
Next it’s important to discern whether or not an Advisor has your best interest at heart or not. One way to help you figure this out is to ask your Advisor if he or she is acting as a Fiduciary? I know that’s a three dollar word but all it means is that they are legally obligated to put your interest ahead of their own and disclose any conflicts of interest that might interfere with that goal in advance. For example, if a Fiduciary is going to get paid a commission on a product that he/she is recommending to you they are obligated to disclose that to you before you purchase. Another helpful thing to look out for is to look for an Advisor that asks to see more than your financial statements. Before they start to work with you they should be asking to see your tax returns, your legal documents, and your insurance contracts. If the only thing they want to see or talk about are your investment statements then how can they really take your whole situation into account when making recommendations?
Finally, you should never feel any sales pressure to move forward or make a hasty decision. A professional Advisor will not use old school sales tactics to gain you as a client. You may need to meet with more than one Advisor and just see how you feel at each meeting. If you are feeling pressured or uncomfortable in any way than that is likely not the right Advisor for you. You should get a sense that the Advisor in question is asking good questions with the goal of helping you to make an educated decision about your money that feels right to you. If you are getting any kind of feedback that he/she is more interested in making a sale than doing the right thing than you should probably move on to someone else.
Certainly there are likely other factors that you could consider such as the Advisors specialty and even the proximity to your home town. However if you start off with the basics of doing your due diligence, making sure they are concerned with putting your interests first, and deciding if you have a good feeling about him/her than you are off to a great start to finding the right Financial Advisor for you. Happy Hunting!