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If you have ever sat down by yourself and tried to pick investments for your 401(K) or IRA it can feel a little overwhelming. Instead of trying to pick funds yourself and potentially losing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars, I would turn to an investment professional to walk you through the steps of picking out good funds. Personally, we use an investment professional and it has helped us make wise investment decisions. The problem is that many times clients do not ask the right questions when seeking professional help and end up selecting a professional that is not the right fit. Below are some questions I recommend that you ask a professional before entering a partnership.
The first thing you want to find out is how much experience they have in being an investment professional. Questions such as “How long have you being doing this type of work?” and “Tell me about your experience as an investment professional,” allows you to see if you feel comfortable working with that person and determine if they have enough experience to help you in your specific situation.
General Investing Philosophy
What you are trying to determine here is if your philosophies match. The best way to determine this is by asking personal questions. You want to discover what kind of asset class they like. Do they generally prefer stocks or bonds? What about single stocks? Do they usually recommend buy and hold or jumping in and out of investments? Asking questions such as “What do you think is best for your clients?” and “What do you recommend someone at my age invest in?” should help you get a good idea of what their investing philosophy is.
Knowing what kind of customer service I am going to receive is vital to me in determining whether or not I work with an investment professional. Asking the direct question of “How often would I be able to communicate with you?” will give you an idea of how much you will actually be able to communicate with him/her. Some other good questions to ask are “What kind of clients are you looking for?” and “How much is the initial investment to work with you?” This will help determine if they are going to be available to you no matter what your income level.
Ultimately by asking these questions the most important thing you want to find out is do they have the heart of a teacher? You want someone who will sit down with you and explain to you why they recommend investing in a specific fund, instead of just investing in whatever they tell you to invest in. If they do not have the heart of a teacher then do not work with them. You want someone who you can have a long-term relationship with and make sure that it is the right fit for both of you. Remember do not invest in anything because I say so or because someone on the TV news says so, but invest in something that you know and understand.