How to select a financial advisor
How to Select a financial advisor
In this day and age, it’s easy to use the internet and search for a local “Financial Advisor”. However, not all financial professionals are created equal and they come with different titles, licenses, education, levels of oversight, and available investment products that the public should be aware of. Financial Professionals that hold a Series 65 license are known as Investment Advisor Representatives and have a legal requirement to act as a “Fiduciary” on behalf of their clients. Financial Advisors, such as myself, that have earned the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation have committed to further education across a broad range of financial planning, retirement, tax and investment topics. The CFP designation imposes an ethical fiduciary standard of care for all financial advice, not just investment advice. In addition, a financial advisor that holds the CFP designation has taken a professional oath to act as a fiduciary with their clients at all times. If a financial professional is NOT a fiduciary, they have the obligation to follow a specific standard of conduct, but are not held to the Fiduciary Standard. To find out, simply ask the financial professional or check their website.
A great public resource to review a potential advisor is on FINRA BROKER CHECK. After inputting the advisors name and city, you can click on them to see their work history, any negative client disclosure events, and their applicable licenses.
In my profile, you will see under “Exams Passed” that I am Series 7 licensed and passed the Series 63 and 65.
It is important to understand that even if a Financial Advisor has received the Series 65 and is supposed to act as a fiduciary, there is a great deal of difference in oversight and what they can give advice on depending upon their other licenses. The Series 7 license is what I want to focus on as it means I am licensed to sell all products ranging from individual stocks and bonds, mutual funds, to private equity. My wife jokingly refers to me as the ‘Ninja of Finance” as I am able to provide recommendations on virtually any investment product out there. By comparison, a Series 6 advisor can only advise on mutual funds, meaning, they can’t legally buy, sell, or recommend individual stocks or exchange traded funds. The most restrictive is having an advisor that is not Series 7 or 6 licensed, but someone who only passed the Series 65. These advisors have to partner with a third party money management firm who is licensed and they only act as a ‘solicitor’ for that company. They don’t control the investments, trading, nor can they provide advice on individual stocks. This same thing applies to Financial Advisors who are only insurance licensed and suggest insurance products (annuities and life insurance) on all their clients regardless of their situation. Therefore, even though an advisor may be classified as a ‘fiduciary’, it is important to understand they may be limited on what investment advice they give and what products they offer.
Being that the security of your financial future is very important, I would greatly suggest researching any potential advisor on FINRA Broker Check and make sure they meet ALL the criteria below:
Series 7 licensed (able to give advice on virtually all investment products)
Being a Certified Financial Planner™ Practitioner (CFP)
No client disclosure events
At least 10 years experience
Regulated by FINRA, not the SEC (there is much more oversight on FINRA advisors)
If you search with the above criteria, you will be meeting with what I feel are the top advisors in your geographic area!