When selecting a broker or investment advisor, research the person's education and professional history as well as the firm this person works for. Ask:
- Has this person worked with others who have circumstances similar to yours?
- Is this person licensed in your state? Your state securities administrator lists individuals and firms that are registered in your state. Ask if the regulatory office has any other background information. You can find out how to reach your state securities regulator by visiting www.nasaa.org.
- Has the person had any run-ins with regulators or received serious complaints from investors? Call your local state securities regulator or the SEC. You can also check out FINRA's BrokerCheck to find licensing, employment, and disciplinary information. Or call FINRA toll-free at 1-800-289-9999.
- How is the person paid? Is it an hourly rate, a flat fee, or a commission that depends on the investments you make? Does the person get a bonus from his or her firm for selling you a particular product?
- What are the fees for setting up and servicing your account?