When you hire a financial adviser, you are in essence putting your finances in their hands. Of course, different types of money managers provide different levels of service. All generally offer advice and suggestions, but certain positions may be able to make money decisions without consulting their clients first. Therefore, it is essential for you to feel comfortable working with a particular individual or firm. You can check on various aspects of an adviser’s professional life to help you better understand that manager’s reputation and methods. Here are four ways to assess a financial adviser.
Check fiduciary status
A fiduciary is legally and ethically bound to put clients’ best interests first. There are multiple advantages to working with a fiduciary.
- If your financial adviser is a fiduciary, that individual or firm will stand with you side by side in the event of any problems that occurred based upon money advice.
- Fiduciaries get paid only from client fees. They do not take commissions from outside parties, which could lead to biased advice.
- Fiduciaries are bound to responsibly manage assets without taking title to them.
- If you are uneasy about investing, a relatively new investor, or have complicated estate assets to manage, working with a fiduciary is a good idea.
The world of financial professionals has governing agencies and organizations that issue designations and keep records of registered members. Checking on the credentials of any financial adviser with whom you are considering working is a good way to assess the working reputation.
- FINRA—Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Use its BrokerCheckfeature to look for past complaints and to check securities licenses.
- SEC—Securities and Exchange Commission. It offers a search toolthat lets you look up individuals and firms.
A good practice is to ask the adviser personally what credentials they hold then do your own online research to verify what they told you. This is not being distrustful. It is simply looking after your own interests. If you were told a name should be on a registered list but you cannot find it, check with the adviser again. Sometimes administrative glitches cause unintended omissions from databases.
Read independent reviews
Seek out reviews from outside parties to get a larger perspective on how financial advisers work and also to get a feel for personal reputations. For example, this review of Fisher Investments, an independent money manager, gives you a good feeling for how this firm operates and the values it holds.
While testimonials of a financial firm or individual can help you feel more reassured, impartial reviews from knowledgeable sources are valuable because they provide useful information and analysis of a particular individual or firm’s performance you will not find in simple testimonials. They flesh out the material you find on agency databases and give you a wider view of how that individual or firm operates. A good review will help you get a sense of whether or not you would feel safe working with a particular financial professional.
Listen for cutting-edge suggestions
You hire an asset manager because you want sound, progressive advice from a financial expert. Therefore, you should hear about the newest ideas and strategies that could benefit your portfolio from your financial adviser rather than your friends, colleagues, or the television news. If you are learning about interesting investment possibilities from everyone but your money professional, or he or she is suggesting products that do not fit in with your portfolio, it is time to reassess your relationship with that adviser.
Hiring a financial adviser is an important decision, and you need to feel secure with this specialized professional. There are ways you can check credentials, past experience, and get a feel for current reputation, all of which may help your decision process in ultimately choosing your financial professional.