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How do you know if you have a good financial advisor or a salesperson –someone that is more interested in the sale rather than your financial future? Too often people have handed their money over to a financial advisor without researching whether they were good or not. Financial expert, Suze Orman, gives 10 warning signs of a bad financial advisor.
You meet the advisor who says there’s a deadline on the investment. Suze explains, “There is NO investment out there that you have to rush in -- especially today. They are a salesperson and not a financial advisor.”
There is a cost associated with any investment that you make. It is most likely that you will pay the advisor’s fee, load or commission. The advisor needs to be clear on what it’s going to cost you.
“Be very wary if your financial advisor wants you to put all or most of your money into one single investment. You should diversify your money…. You don’t want to put money above FDIC limits, or state guaranty limits on annuities.” - Suze
Your advisor needs to understand you and your partner’s financial emotions. If you’re married, have a life partner or are responsible for someone else’s finances, the advisor should never want to talk to you alone. Suze says, “Any advisor that wants to see you alone – something is wrong.”
For example, your advisor suggests what you should invest without asking you questions such as - do you have credit card debt? Are you healthy? Is your job secure? Do you want to buy a home? Do you have will? Do you have a trust? Do you need a new car?, etc.,.
Your advisor needs to know if it makes sense for you invest or first take care of your needs.
Beware if your advisor doesn’t get you the information you request about an investment. They should answer any questions that you have about how you’re investing your money.
Your advisor should send you a monthly statement summarizing all that month’s transactions, including deposits, withdrawals, and current positions held. This statement must come directly from the brokerage firm that's holding your money, not from your adviser's office.
You should receive quarterly and annual reports from your advisor. These reports explain the return your advisor is getting on your investments, as well as all fees and commissions. The figures on his/her report must match the report that is generated directly from the brokerage firm.
These reports should illustrate all the realized gains or losses (all the money you actually made or lost from selling an investment) and all the unrealized gains and losses (investments you own but have not yet sold and thus that have not yet realized a profit or loss). These reports should also include returns of the overall index. You want everything on paper
The ultimate warning sign is if the advisor asks you to write a check made out to him/her personally. Every check is to be payable to an institution. (i.e. TD Ameritrade, Schwab, etc.,) “This is absolutely essential. More than one "adviser" has flown the coop with dozens of clients' money’ Suze says.
The last warning sign is if your advisor doesn’t inform you of any drastic changes. Suze explains, “If a stock has gone down, or is not performing the way he or she expected it would, you are to hear about it from him/her, not read about your money first in the newspaper.”