Whether or not you feel a twinge of schadenfreude when you hear of yet another celebrity undone by a dubious financial advisor, it’s important to remember, this can happen to you to! And it is no joke when it does. Money is hard earned, investing takes risk; to lose it all because of an advisor with greedy motives can ruin more than your bank account. It can ruin your life. So, avoid disaster from the outset.
Choose a Trained Professional
A financial advisor helps you manage your money, while a financial planner helps with long-term goals such as retirement. However, if the advisor is not selling funds, stocks or registered products, they may have little to no training and no accreditation. The first thing to check is if your advisor has professional training and is accredited.
Some institutions, like World Financial Group, operate more like an MLM. While this does not mean they are not legitimate (this is something you determine for yourself, if you choose such an organization) it does mean their advisors are trained only on their product and way of selling. The advisors also have quotas to hit, which can result in a hard sell.
Other advisors get their education through channels such as The Canadian Securities Institute, or by becoming a licensed insurance broker/agent, and continuing to branch out from there. Such individuals can join establishments like banks, insurance firms or investment firms. Some may form their own companies and offer advice as a solo agent. Regardless, to maintain their licences they must undergo a certain number of training hours per year.
If you are working with an advisor that is selling financial products, ensure they are registered on the Canadian Securities Administrator’s national list. If you are worried the advisor you like is involved in past or present disciplinary action, you can visit the Investment Industry Regulation Organization of Canada to search potential cases.
Make Sure it’s a Good Fit
Once you have chosen a trained professional, be they at a bank, an independent agent, a finance firm or an insurance professional, you must make sure they are also a good fit. Not every personality is going to be a match. If you feel unheard or intimidated, walk away. If you feel the agent is difficult to get a hold of, or does not answer your questions, consider a different agent. Ensure you and your agent have a good rapport and that you feel they have your best interests at heart.
Testimonials about an agent or firm will also reveal a lot about them. Choose third-party review sites like Google or Yelp to ensure impartiality.
Get the Advice you Need
Working with a financial advisor can truly improve your net worth. Ensure you choose an accredited professional, that you and the advisor have a good rapport, and one that has high praise from clients.