Broker Check
An Advisor's Perspective on Choosing an Advisor

An Advisor's Perspective on Choosing an Advisor

June 02, 2021
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Let's talk about financial professionals. To do this, let's talk about an example of going to the doctor. You go to the doctor, and one of a couple of things might happen. The doctor might say, "This is super easy and routine. Take these antibiotics for a couple of days, and you'll be just great," or he might say, "This is something out of my scope. Let's send you to a specialist. That specialist can take a look and make sure that you're completely taken care of" in either circumstance both doctors can be excellent at what they do. They can be great; they have different focuses and different specializations. That's the same thing with financial advisors and financial professionals.

Some advisors focus on a broad range of topics and are more generalist, and some have some particular niches. The most important thing is to make sure that you have someone that meets your needs. Personally speaking, I think it's essential to have someone that has a depth of knowledge rather than a broad range of expertise that's more shallow across the spectrum.

So, how do you know if an advisor might be a good fit for you? One thing I look at is is FINRA's Broker Check website. You can look up an advisor or financial professional by name and see what registrations they have, what states they're registered in, if there are any disclosures, what companies they work for, etc. If they're not a broker, they may be on the SEC's website. It provides very similar information to the information found on Broker Check. 

The second thing I look at is the advisor's website. Is that advisor marketing his or her services in a broad spectrum? Or are there some specific niches that that advisor focuses on in the industry? For example, if you want to see if they might be an excellent fit to manage your 401k plan, you go on their website, and all they talk about is life insurance and disability or stuff like that; maybe they're not the best fit. 

The third thing I look at is designations. Does the advisor have any designations? Usually, you see it behind their name. Sometimes they have alphabet soup behind their name. Sometimes they have one or two designations. The important thing is to see what those designations mean. Are they specific to an individual type of planning, or are they particular to the needs you're trying to accomplish? FINRA's has a tool to look up designation providers and some of the requirements for designations. 

Another thing is different organizations are the ones that put together those designations. You can look up the designees info on the provider's website and see if that advisor still has that designation and has done the continuing education and all that is needed to maintain that designation.

This list is not a comprehensive list of what you should do. But, being on this side of things; being an advisor, these are the things I would look at first:

  1. Look up the advisor on FINRA's website, broker check.
  2. Look at the advisor's website and see what they say their focus is. 
  3. Look at his or her designations. See if those designations are specific to what you're needs are. 

The most important thing to do is to make sure that the advisor meets your specific needs. It's always good to periodically take a look and make sure that your advisor still meets your needs.