The New Year is a great time to sort out your finances. Here are some tips on how to pick a financial adviser.
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Statistics about “financial advisors”
The term financial advisor is broad in scope and what is offered by one advisor may not be offered by another advisor.
FINRA oversees approximately 3,800 brokerage firms and over 630,000 registered securities representatives
As of 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that there are over 200,000 individuals identifying as financial advisors.
Questions to as a financial advisor
What services do you offer?
Do they offer the services you need?
Some advisors focus on different areas of personal finance such as managing money, insurance, or even estate planning.
What certifications do you hold?
It’s a veritable alphabet soup but the standards in the industry are ones like Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)– all do different things so it’s important to understand the difference.
What is your fee structure?
Fee-based vs. commission vs. hourly or is it a combination?
Are they a fiduciary?
Being a fiduciary means putting the clients best interest first rather than using a suitability standard for a recommendation, where it has to merely be suitable.
The Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule requires advisors including insurance agents who advise on retirement plans to be fiduciaries.
What is expected of me as a client?
What products and/or strategies do you personally use?
Resources for choosing a financial advisor
Consult FINRA – Financial Regulatory Authority
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) – FINRA is a non-government not-for-profit organization authorized by Congress to protect investors and market integrity through regulation of broker-dealers. § http://www.finra.org
BrokerCheck – A free search engine that allows investors to research the background and experience of financial brokers, advisers, and firms. It includes information on experience, licensing, and any disciplinary action taken towards advisers.
Ask for Form ADV – Registered investment advisors (RIAs) have to file the Uniform Application for Investment Advisor Registration (Form ADV) with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Form ADV provides background information about the advisor, including criminal history, licensing information, fee information, etc.
Ask for references.
Trust your gut.