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Scared of Scams

Scared of Scams
Gregory Gill

How do you know who to hire when you’re looking for financial advice?


Well, I have bit of bad news - slimy types will always be drawn to any profession offering access to people’s money.

The good news is they aren’t the only ones out there.

Most doctors are hardworking, honorable individuals who want the best for their patients. Unfortunately, there are a few who are only in it for the money. Some may even prescribe unnecessary treatments or surgical procedures. The presence of these few hucksters and hustlers doesn’t dissuade me from going my see my family doctor on a regular basis or a specialist if I need one.

The same can be said of attorneys, CPAs, bankers and other professionals. Some are just in it for themselves with no real regard for their clients’ best interest. Fortunately, there are also plenty of each that are true professionals – they do the best job they can for their clients, sometimes at their own expense.

The point is this: finding trustworthy and talented professional help can be hard work. But the hard work is worth it once you’ve found a pro that’s right for you. Here are some thoughts to get you started in your search:

1. Talk to friends. Friends are the number one source wealthy individuals use to obtain information about potential professionals. And why not? You’ll get the candid skinny from your friends about their reaction to their advisor and what their experience has been working with him.

2. Talk to your other professionals. What do your attorney, your CPA and your banker have to say about any financial professional you are considering? Have they had dealings with her? Is she well thought of in the community?

3. Check their background. Don’t hesitate to ask any professional whom you are considering what regulatory bodies oversee him and if there have ever been any complaints lodged against him. If the answer is, “Nobody oversees me,” you might want to think twice before proceeding.

Generally, commission-based brokers are regulated by FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority), fee based advisors by the SEC (Securities Exchange

Commission) and insurance agents by their state’s insurance commissioner. Many advisors wear more than one hat and therefore fall under multiple regulatory schemes. Check the website of each regulatory body for information on complaints filed against anyone you are considering.

4. Talk to them. Eventually, you’re going to have to talk to the financial person. Since you are considering a long-term relationship of service and advice, don’t you think this ought to be someone whose company you enjoy, whose advice you can trust and whose interests are aligned with yours?

This process may take longer than you like and you may have to interview (not kiss!) a few slimy frogs before you meet Prince Charming.

But the work will be worth it.

Keep looking. You’ll know when you’ve found the right one.

Byron is a Certified Financial Planner and Managing Director of the Planning Group at Argent Advisors, Inc.
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