Key Steps to Researching a Financial Advisor – NerdWallet

By Kathryn Hauer, CFP, EA

How can you make sure you choose the right financial professional? Its impossible to be absolutely certain youve found someone who is trustworthy and with whom you will enjoy working, but there are some steps you can take to ensure that your advisor is qualified and in good standing with industry regulators.

Finding the right advisor will require some research on your part because smart investors check the background of anyone promoting financial or investment guidance. With online databases from regulators and industry associations, you can search and read about financial professionals qualifications, certifications and fees, and any disciplinary actions against them.

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First, its important to understand that there are many different types of financial professionals who call themselves advisors, but they may be paid in different ways, adhere to different standards of care and be overseen by different regulators. For instance, brokers generally work for brokerage firms and are overseen by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and investment advisors are generally overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and work for registered investment advisory (RIA) firms or are sole practitioners.

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