You can never ask a dumb question about your investments and the people who help you choose them, especially when it comes to how much you will be paying for any investment, both in upfront costs and ongoing management fees.
We encourage you to read our publication "Ask Questions" before talking to any investment professional. To get you started, here are some of the most important questions you should ask when choosing an investment professional or someone to help you:
- What training and experience do you have? How long have you been in business?
- What is your investment philosophy? Do you take a lot of risks or are you more concerned about the safety of my money?
- Describe your typical client. Can you provide me with references, the names of people who have invested with you for a long time?
- How do you get paid? By commission? Based on a percentage of assets you manage? Another method? Do you get paid more for selling your own firm's products?
- How much will it cost me in total to do business with you?
Your investment professional should understand your investment goals, whether you're saving to buy a home, paying for your children's education, or enjoying a comfortable retirement.
Your investment professional should also understand your tolerance for risk. That is, how much money can you afford to lose if the value of one of your investments declines?
An investment professional has a duty to make sure that he or she only recommends investments that are suitable for you. That is, that the investment makes sense for you based on your other securities holdings, your financial situation, your means, and any other information that your investment professional thinks is important.
The best investment professional is one who fully understands your objectives and matches investment recommendations to your goals. You'll want someone you can understand, because your investment professional should teach you about investing and the investment products.
For more information that will help you select a brokerage firm and sales representative, read our brochure, Invest Wisely: Advice From Your Securities Industry Regulators.