Selecting an Advisor
There are a number of steps that one should complete in selecting an advisor. You should learn the answers to the questions below and ensure the person meets the criteria you require.
A few general categories are:
How many years has the person been working in the industry? Is this person experienced in dealing with people similar to your circumstances? There are many different industry designations offering different skill levels and areas of expertise. You should check to see which (if any) designations the advisor has and look for one with those designations that will assist them with your needs specifically.
What types and levels of service does this person offer? Are you comfortable in communicating your feelings, goals, apprehensions to this person. This person will be responsible for your financial health and you need to feel like you can share and disclose everything to them.
Some advisors are limited in the product solutions they are licensed to sell. For example, they may be with a ‘captive’ firm which means that may only be able to recommend their own products. Other advisors have limited registration and may only be able to sell mutual funds. You should ensure that the advisor is able to offer the solutions you require and desire.
How is the advisor compensated? Do they clearly disclose to you (either verbally or in writing) both your total cost of ownership (total fees) as well as disclose the fees that their firm receives? I am a firm believer that if an advisor offers quality advice and service that they should not shy away from being transparent regarding the fees and cost to you. My personal philosophy is to be product agnostic by entering into fee-based (or asset-based) arrangements. This way I am compensated to manage your investments and I am not motivated to recommend one investment over another.
Compliance / Due Diligence
There are a number of different web sites you can visit which allow you to verify the licensing, designations and standing status of an advisor. You should audit or check up on the advisor you are considering working with.