What Investors Should Consider

Selecting the right financial advisor is important and can prove to be an overwhelming task. Here are a few considerations that should factor into the decision-making process.

Appropriate Credentialing— Eighty-two percent of investors think it is critical their advisor meets a rigorous set of standards to be certified according to IMCA research in 20151. There are hundreds of credentials and designations available, all with varying degrees of credibility. Does your advisor hold relevant credentials that require the “four E’s”—experience, education, examination, and ethics? Always investigate thoroughly before choosing a financial advisor for you.

Background— Referral through trusted sources is one of the best ways to find an advisor for your situation. IMCA’s website provides a search function that helps you find CIMA professionals and CPWA professionals in your area.

Fees— You should know exactly how your advisor will be compensated. CIMA professionals fully disclose to clients all services provided and compensation received as required by the IMCA Code of Professional Responsibility.

Chemistry— Selecting an advisor (like selecting a doctor) is a personal choice, and you should feel at ease and comfortable with the individual you choose.

Any advisor you consider should hold credentials and securities licenses, depending on their areas of expertise. What should you ask about your financial advisor’s certifications?

  • What are the continuing competency requirements? Most serious certification programs require significant, ongoing education to ensure that individuals maintain levels of knowledge and competency.
  • Do the credentials have requirements for experience, education, ethics and a rigorous examination? The 4 “E”s—experience, education, examination, and ethics—are requirements of most legitimate financial services credentials.
  • Who administers the credentialing program and why? Even not-for-profit credentialing bodies have to eliminate conflicts of interest, but economic motives can seep into a for-profit’s certification process.
  • Is there an independent disciplinary process—a way to lose rights to use the marks if certificants act unethically or fail to update their knowledge?  A disciplinary process helps protect consumers and investors from fraudulent activity.
  • Who certifies the certifier? The body granting the credential should be willing to submit to outside review. Just like the best professionals in any field are certified, the strongest certification programs in any industry are accredited by independent third parties such as American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

1Findings based on 1,041 responses to If Not Now Research, Inc. survey, 2015