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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Last Look at your Financial Advisor before Hiring

By Paul J. Easton

Before hiring a financial professional, you should always find every bit of information like understanding how that person gets paid and more. Whether you are hiring a stockbroker, a financial planner, or an investment adviser, here are essential lessons you should never ignore. It is worth checking things today than be sorry later in life.

With the payment method, financial advisors are commonly paid in a number of ways. They can be paid with a percentage of the value of the total assets managed in behalf of the client. You can also opt to pay an hourly fee for the time they spend working for you or a fixed fee, most commonly known as monthly retainer. One method of payment that is most accessible to the general public is the commission-based method. These financial professionals have their income coming from the securities they sell. Other financial planners and advisors have combinations of the above methods of payment.

Each compensation method has an advantage and possible drawbacks. It usually depends on your individual needs and preferences. Ask the prospective financial professional during an interview to give details on the differences with the different payment methods. Before you clinch the deal and do business with them, get several opinions from friends and other trusted folks. Find out also if the fee is negotiable.

Financial advisors, especially the investment advisors, are usually registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Investment advisors have to register with either the SEC if they manage $25 million or more in clients' assets. If managing less than $25 million, they should register with the state securities agency in the state of their principal place of business.

Here is another valuable tip. Most financial advisors must fill out a "Form ADV." Use this form to verify whether your financial advisor has good records in the past. This Form ADV must be filed and updated with either the SEC or the state securities agency.

Form ADV has two parts. The first part is all about the information about the advisor's education and business. This also provides information whether he or she had problems with regulators or clients in the past. The second part outlines the financial advisor's services, fees, and strategies.

Before you hire someone, always make sure this information is doubled checked. Carefully read the Form ADV. You can get copies directly from the financial advisor, your state securities regulator or the SEC.

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