courses in a variety of topics such as tax, estate, retirement, and employee benefits planning as well as investing and insurance. In order to secure the designation, they must then pass an exam. The most common is the certified financial planner (CFP) designation.
Lubin recommends checking with your state’s securities regulators to see if there have been any complaints filed against a planner or adviser. The North American Securities Administrators Association (www.nasaa.org) provides links and telephone numbers. Also, try professional organizations. The Certified Financial Planning Board’s Website features a link (www.cfp.net/search) that lets you check up on planners with the CFP designation and see if any complaints or disciplinary actions have been filed against them. The Financial Planning Association provides a search engine that lets you screen for planners in your area at www.fpanet.org/plannersearch/search.cfm.
The Federal Citizen Information Center provides helpful information to help consumer hire a reputable financial adviser at www.consumeraction.gov/caw_investing_brokers.shtml.
5 COMMON WARNING SIGNS OF A DECEPTIVE FINANCIAL PLANNER
- Promises of unrealistic above-market rates of return, such as 20% or 40% annually
- An indication that the investment is guaranteed and can’t result in a loss for the investor
- Suggestions that the investment is too complex to be understood and that total faith in the promoter is a must
- An unclear or unstated investment purpose, such as a blind pool for investing in the stock market at the planner’s discretion
- An exotic element in the sales pitch, such as the involvement of an off-shore bank, top-secret technology, or inside information from Wall Street titans