It can be intimidating to disclose and hand over your financial well being to someone else, but sometimes it makes sense. Like when you do not have the time nor the expertise, or when the result of a mistake could be more than your capacity for risk. But how do you know if your advisor is acting in your best interests, or their own? Here are a few red flags to look for:
They guarantee to beat the market- If your advisor tells you they consistently outperform the market, it’s probably time to move on. The stock market averages about 5-7%, and even that’s not guaranteed.
They give you advice without knowing your full financial picture- Just like clothing, when it comes to your financial situation, one size does not fit all. This is where quality financial plan comes into play. Before offering any advice, a good financial planner will obtain a thorough idea of your financial health and your specific goals, concerns, and constraints.
You feel rushed or pressured– If the representative is urging you to get back to them by a specific deadline, or they urge you to act before the deal is gone, they’re probably trying to sell you something beyond a solid financial future.
Their strategy is too complicated / complex to understand- This is the same thing Bernie Madoff used to tell clients when they asked too many questions. Ask your advisor to slow down and explain it again. If you still do not understand it, seek a second opinion.
They tell you that financial planning is “free”- Let’s be honest, nothing is free. If an advisor is not charging you a specific and transparent fee for unbiased financial advice, then you are not receiving unbiased advice. Meaning, that advisor is biased to convince you that your financial salvation is through their products and services. While getting “free” financial planning seems like a bargain at first, it may just cost you much, much more in the long run.
When it comes to time to get serious about reaching your retirement savings goal, turning your hard earned savings into reliable income, or prioritizing multiple financial goals, here are a few hints to aid in your search for a competent financial planning partner:
Ask your advisor if they will act in a fiduciary capacity in your relationship (a fiduciary is required to act in your best interests and disclose potential conflicts, a non-fiduciary is not).
Look for a fee-only, Certified Financial Planner™ professional http://www.letsmakeaplan.org/.
Always check the qualifications, experience and regulatory history of your advisor / firm through https://brokercheck.finra.org/ .