How to shop for financial services
Financial Service

How to shop for financial services

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 skilled, unskilled, and downright dishonest candidates can seem overwhelming. When you hire someone, you entrust them with your finances and your future; that knowledge adds to the weight of the decision. Fortunately, there are a few basic steps you can take to protect yourself and your finances from scammers, and make sure you get the best possible service.

Do your research. Before signing up for a financial service, do your own research. Find out what kind of service you need, how it works, what if fees are required. Don’t be afraid to call reputable companies to ask about how their services work. Many are willing to sit down with potential customers to discuss their services, so set up an appointment for a free consultation. Also, use to research complaint histories and reviews of specific businesses.

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Ask friends, family. This is an excellent way to discover trustworthy lenders, banks, and accountants who have already built a good reputation in your community.

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

Check licensing and professional certifications. Most financial service providers are expected to maintain certain licensure, professional certifications, and errors and omissions insurance coverage. Contacting your state regulatory agencies for verification of what is required where you live.

Get it all in writing. Review written agreements and contracts carefully before you sign them. If you have any questions, ask. Never assume things will work out simply because a person seems trustworthy. If there are aspects of a contract you don’t understand, find out what they mean before you agree to the terms.

Watch for red flags. Be wary of anyone who pressures you to sign up for their services quickly, claiming you’ll “miss out” if you don’t act now. Unsolicited callers who ask for your personal information are usually scams, and so are offers that seem too good to be true. If you shop for services online, look out for any service provider who is unwilling to reveal their office location.

Armed with knowledge, you can avoid scammers, protect your finances and obtain financial services that fit your needs.