How to shop for financial services


Finding an investment advisor, planner, accountant, bank, broker, or other financial service can be stressful. There are so many opportunities and without a background in finance it can seem overwhelming sorting through qualified, unskilled and downright dishonest candidates. When you hire someone, you trust them with your finances and your future; this knowledge increases the weight of the decision. Luckily, there are a few basic steps you can take to protect yourself and your finances from scammers and ensure you receive the best possible service.

Please investigate. Before you sign up for any financial service, do your own research. Find out what type of service you need, how it works, and what if there are fees. Don’t be afraid to call reputable companies and ask how their services work. Many are willing to sit down with potential clients to discuss their services, so make an appointment for a free consultation. Also, use to research complaint histories and reviews of specific companies.

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Ask friends, family. This is a great way to discover trusted lenders, banks and accountants who have already built a solid reputation in your community.

Discover, compare. Once you have a few service providers in mind, spend time researching each one. Do their services meet your expectations? Call or visit them to ask them questions. Make a pros/cons list for each service. This way you can clearly see which service best suits your needs.

Verify licensing and professional certifications. Most financial service providers are expected to maintain certain licenses, professional certifications, and insurance coverage for errors and omissions. Check with your state regulatory agencies to verify what is required where you live.

Get everything in writing. Review written agreements and contracts carefully before signing them. If you have any questions, ask. Never assume things will work out just because a person seems trustworthy. If you don’t understand certain aspects of a contract, find out what they mean before you agree to the terms.

Watch out for red flags. Be wary of anyone who pressures you into signing up for their services quickly and claims you’ll miss out if you don’t act now. Unsolicited callers asking for your personal information are usually scams, as are offers that seem too good to be true. When you search for services online, be on the lookout for service providers who are unwilling to reveal their office location.

Armed with knowledge, you can avoid scammers, protect your finances, and get financial services that suit your needs.

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