What a difference a decade makes! Not long ago, everyone who invested in stocks seemed to win big. Investors watched their portfolios grow exponentially, and retirement seemed secure. The economy was so strong even the country’s best financial advisers were left wondering if they’d have a job.
But alas, the economy went into recession. Those early retirement dreams became a less realistic option. These days we need to know about yields, rates of return, and, dare we say, risk!
That leaves many people feeling pressured and over their heads. This is where businesses can step in to help their employees decide how and where to invest their money.
Where Do I Start?
That depends on what you want the financial advisers to do. Do you want help with estate planning, or is it your child’s college fund? What about advice on which stocks to pick or how to withdrawal cash from retirement funds without draining your account? Determining where to start depends on your desired outcome, and the good news is financial advisers come with many specialties.
Once you decide what you need, ask people that you trust for referrals. Seek out someone you don’t mind divulging personal financial information to.
Next, find out what your potential advisor did before becoming an advisor. Was he/she a math expert who majored in statistics at college? Do they have an advanced degree in accounting or business? The answer to these types of questions can tell you a lot about the Ivory Tower experience someone may have, and whether it’s relevant enough for your trust. You want someone with good character, much like you would in choosing a good doctor or lawyer.
How Do Financial Advisers Charge?
Many people are intimidated by costs but have no idea what they are. This is normal, and there are many ways in which an advisor might charge you.
Charging you a commission on products (or stocks) bought and sold is the most typical form of remuneration. Some, however, might charge a flat fee or yearly retainer, or a combination thereof. The best advice: do some comparison-shopping just as you would for a vehicle or any other significant purchase.
State Registered Advisors Must Be Licensed
Those who give advice on how someone should invest their money should be registered with the state in which they practice. For instance, in Washington State, all financial advisors must register with the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions in order to practice. Check with your state to see what the requirements are, and be sure to check for prerequisites pertaining to admission, such as testing and education.
You can also check the state records for complaints: legal judgments, bankruptcies, criminal charges, and government orders. All of this information is kept on file by the state and are available to the public.
Choosing from a pool of knowledgeable professionals can be a tricky business, but it can be simplified by following a few basic rules, and, more importantly, by using a little common sense.