Don’t do business with a financial planner, financial advisor, or broker without first checking their complaint record, and verifying their credentials.
How do you do this? With two simple steps.
First, ask them what agency, or agencies, oversee their business.
If the answer is FINRA, the advisor will hold some type of securities license. You can use the BrokerCheck feature on FINRA’s website to see if there are any complaints on file.
If the answer is the SEC, you can use the SEC Investment Advisor search feature on their website to check out both the advisor, and the firm they work for.
Some financial advisors, or financial advisory firms, may be dually registered with both regulatory agencies.
Second, ask them what professional designations they hold.
FINRA has a page called Understanding Investment Professional Designations that lists each designation complete with a link to the organization that issued the designation. You can use this page to click through to an organization, check to see if the advisor really has the credentials they say they have, and learn more about what those credentials mean.
I encourage people to look for advisors that hold the CFP® designation. Go to Verify Your Planner’s CFP® Designation page to type in an advisor’s name to find out if they hold this designation.
Licenses and credentials are important. It is also important to hire an advisor that has experience working with people like you. Learn what questions to ask when you hire a financial advisor so you can be sure to find the right person.