Originally published on Michael Dinich’s website.
Managing investments can be difficult, which is why so many people hire a financial advisor to help aid them in the process. These experts are supposed to help you plan your investments in order for you to successfully strengthen your financial safety net.
While a financial advisor’s credentials look good on paper, it’s important to remember that there are often individuals in every profession that are only offering their services in order to take advantage of their clientele base.
To avoid entrusting your money with a scam artist, make sure to ask any financial advisor you are contemplating working with these ten important questions:
1. Are you a fiduciary?
Fiduciaries are required by law to put their clients’ best interests above their own. They are required to inform clients of any conflicts of interest, including, for example, how they are compensated. You can also ask if an advisor receives kickbacks from certain products.
2. Do you guarantee a certain investment return?
This is one of the most telling signs of a fraud. Financial advisors cannot guarantee an investment return and could find themselves in legal trouble if they would. If someone tries to guarantee you anything, do not hire them, no matter how good their rates seem.
3. Who, specifically, would I be working with?
Some investment firms set up meetings with a senior advisor to gain clients before handing them over to a junior advisor. Make sure to meet and speak with the person who would handle your money, especially since it could be someone different from who you originally researched and met with. It is important to see that they check out as well.
4. What services do you provide?
The services firms provide vary, from simply investment advising to wealth management. Identify your needs and choose a firm that meets them or else there could be conflicts that arise in the future concerning your finances.
5. How much contact do you have with your clients?
If you’re more of a hands-off client, you may not care about this answer, but it is still important to know. If something drastic happens with your investments, you may want to get in contact with your advisor. Make sure they will make time for you, especially in the event of an emergency.
6. What credentials do you have?
An advisor without adequate credentials is not typically someone you want to work with. Ensure they have the proper licenses and certifications before you accept their services.
7. Can you optimize my portfolio for taxes?
A worthwhile financial advisor will have the means to strategize where to place your money for the most benefit. Not all investments work the same, so they should recognize the differences easily.
8. How much is the smallest portfolio you manage, versus the average and the largest amount?
Although you may have more than enough money to work with an advisor, some only take extremely large accounts. It is important to know if you match the profile of their typical client so you are treated as such.
9. Do you have different investment plans depending on risk tolerance?
Risk tolerance is one of the largest factors in investing, so a financial advisor should have an idea of where to start, depending on your level of comfort. If they approach each account exactly the same, this should be a giant red flag that they do not care about your best interests.
10. Why should I work with you?
Simply put, your financial advisor should impress you with this response.
Choosing a financial advisor can be one of the most challenging tasks for anyone, but these questions are a great starting point for you to weed out those who do not meet your needs. To find the best financial advisor for you, make sure to speak with multiple advisors and do not compromise what you want for their benefit!