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Choosing a financial professional

Getting help with investing

Financial professionals who can help you with investments are either broker/dealers or investment advisers.

There are differences between these roles. One of the most important is their obligation to you when suggesting investments. Under a new federal rule known as Regulation Best Interest, broker/dealers may recommend financial products that are only in the best interest of their customers and they must identify any potential conflicts of interest. Regulation Best Interest is different from the fiduciary standard.

Investment advisers are held to a higher standard known as a fiduciary duty. This means they must put your interests ahead of their own.

Before hiring a financial professional, ask family members and friends for recommendations, and make an appointment to interview the people they suggest.

Some questions to ask include:

  • What training and experience do you have?
  • How long have you or your firm been in business?
  • Have you personally been involved with any disciplinary action or arbitration cases? If yes, how were these resolved?
  • What are your fees? Will I pay you commissions, ongoing asset-based fees, or other fees?
  • What procedures and protocols do you have in place to protect my personal information?

Financial professionals and finding your match

Firms and people selling investments and providing advice must be licensed. Always check their licensing status and background. You can check a license and review disciplinary history at

Your investment plan

In your first meeting, your financial professional will ask you many questions to chart a course of action for you. Be prepared to provide your investment adviser with your:

  • Short- and long-term goals
  • The time you need to save and invest for the future
  • Income, assets, and liabilities
  • Age
  • Risk tolerance

The majority of financial professionals put your needs and interests ahead of their own, but be on alert for these red flags:

  • Ignores your goals and objectives
  • Evades pointed questions
  • Suggests a loan to invest
  • Recommends cashing out to fund new investments
  • Pressures you into making a decision
  • Provides no documents and agreements

​​​​​​​​Questions or complaints?

File a complaint online or contact us:

Consumer Hotline
888-877-4894 (toll-free)


Financial services


Securities and investments



​​​​​Check a license

Always verify that the company or individual you are working with has a license.

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