Steps in Choosing an Investment Advisor

The investment professional (or team of professionals) you decide to work with will depend largely on your investing goals and the types of products and services that can help you meet those goals.  Your financial needs, and the professionals you work with, are likely to change over your lifetime.  The amount of money you have to invest and your investing priorities also will likely change.  What doesn’t change, though, is the best way to find help.   FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority), an independent not-for-profit organization authorized by Congress to protect Americans’ investors, offers the following key steps for choosing financial professionals:

  1. Identify your financial needs, starting with your goals.
  2. Understand the different types of people or firms you could work with, and what each can (and cannot) offer.
  3. Search for possible candidates.
  4. Check the work background and disciplinary history of your finalists.
  5. Make sure you read and understand any paperwork you’re asked to fill out or sign.

Searching for Possible Candidates

One place to start is by talking with your friends, neighbors, relatives, and colleagues—especially those who have some experience as individual investors.  Here’s what to ask:

  • What are the names of the investment professionals you have used?
  • How long have you done business with those individuals?
  • How much or how little have you relied on their advice?
  • Have you ever had a problem with that professional? And, if so, how well and how quickly was the matter resolved?
  • How often does your investment professional contact you? Different people like to interact in different ways and on different schedules, so this question can help assess whether the relationship would work for you.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students if they are working with an investment advisor. And if so, what is their experience with him/her.
  • Did students check if their investment advisor is registered with a state, the SEC, or FINRA? If so, in what capacity?

Discussion Questions

  1. Does it matter if a professional investment advisor holds relevant professional designations? Why or why not?
  2. How are the investment advisors compensated? Should you choose a fee-only advisor?  Why or why not?
  3. Is it important to ask your investment advisor for a list of clients you can contact as references?
Categories: Chapter_10, Financial Planning, Investments | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

How Healthy is Your Insurance Company?

When buying home, health, auto or rental insurance, you should find out if your state insurance department offers any information about insurance companies and rates.  Check several sources for the best rate and get quotes online.  Consult an independent insurance agent who represents several insurers in your area to get a better deal.

 Before purchasing insurance, be sure the insurance company is licensed and covered by the state’s guaranty fund.  The fund pays claims if the company defaults.  Your state insurance department can provide this information.

Research the complaint record of the company.  Contact your state insurance department, or visit the website of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (, which maintains a database of complaints filed with state regulators.  Finally check the financial stability of the insurance company.

For additional information and guidance visit the following websites:,, and

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is it important to contact state insurance department before purchasing insurance?
  2. How can an independent insurance agent provide a better insurance rate?
  3. Why is an insurance company’s financial stability important?

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the websites to

*  Have students visit the various websites in this blog and then prepare a short summary of their findings.

*  explore a few advantages of purchasing insurance from an independent insurance agent?

Categories: Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter_10, Home Insurance, insurance | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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