Looking for a Financial Advisor? Watch Out for These Warning Signs

Much like a trusted attorney or real estate professional, a reliable financial advisor should be part of your inner circle of experts for making some of life’s biggest decisions. From planning for home-buying to funding a college education, a credible financial advisor will help you manage and grow your money so that you’re able to achieve your goals, while also making sure you’re preparing for retirement.

The trick, however, is finding the right financial advisor to work with—someone who is knowledgeable, transparent and who truly has your best interests at heart. This will require gathering recommendations followed by thorough research and vetting. According to Real Simple, as you’re conducting your due diligence and researching candidates online, here are three red flags to watch for:

1. They’re not a fiduciary. A fiduciary is someone who is legally obligated to act in your best interest and put your needs first. Believe it or not, not all financial advisors are fiduciaries, meaning they are not obligated to put your needs first, such as providing full disclosure and transparency regarding potential conflicts of interest. If the candidates you’re considering are Registered Investment Advisors (RIA), you’ll be covered, as RIAs are legally required to act as fiduciaries.

2. You’re not sure how they make money. While your financial advisor is working in your best interest, keep in mind that it’s not charitable work—this is how they make their living. Make sure you understand exactly how any financial advisor earns their income, i.e., such as earning fees based on the total value of your investments. If a candidate cannot simply explain to you how they make money by taking you on as a client, take it as a warning sign.

3. They have something to sell. If a financial advisor is trying to pitch you on an investment with their company’s name on it, that’s a clear sign that they’re putting their commission ahead of your best interests. Instead of pushing insurance or annuities that generate a lot of fees for them, they should be encouraging you to develop a diversified portfolio that includes long-term, low-cost investment vehicles, such as mutual funds.

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