How to buy financial services

CHRIS COLEMAN BEST OFFICE BUSINESS

Shopping for an investment advisor, planner, accountant, bank, broker or any other financial service can be stressful. There are so many options, and without a background in finance, sorting through qualified, unqualified, and downright dishonest candidates can seem overwhelming. When you hire someone, you entrust them with your finances and your future; this knowledge adds weight to the decision. Fortunately, there are a few basic steps you can take to protect yourself and your finances from scammers, and ensure you’re getting the best service possible.

Do your research. Before signing up for a financial service, do your own research. Find out what type of service you need, how it works, and if any fees are required. Don’t be afraid to call reputable companies to find out how their services work. Many are willing to sit down with potential clients to discuss their services, so schedule a free consultation. Also use BBB.org to search for complaint histories and reviews of specific companies.

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Ask your friends, your family. It’s a great way to discover reputable lenders, banks, and accountants who have already built a good reputation in your community.

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

Check professional licenses and certifications. Most financial service providers are required to maintain certain licenses, professional certifications, and errors and omissions insurance coverage. Contact your state’s regulatory agencies to check what is required where you live.

Put it all in writing. Read written agreements and contracts carefully before signing them. If you have any questions, ask. Never assume things will work out just because someone seems trustworthy. If there are aspects of a contract that you don’t understand, find out what they mean before agreeing to the terms.

Watch for red flags. Beware of people who push you to sign up quickly for their services, claiming that 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. If you’re buying services online, look for any service provider that doesn’t want to reveal their office location.

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

About Marilyn Perkins

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