How to find an Investment Advisor

Comments (19)

Do you think you need an Investment Advisor? Hold on before you answer because this is sort of a trick question. Also, I am definitely biased because I am an Investment Advisor. Nonetheless, I think I can assist you in looking at this issue in a way that will serve you.

Working with a fair number of investors over the last nearly 20 years, I have observed that while most are intelligent people, and many are fairly knowledgeable about the market, they are, as a group, not terribly successful with their investing.

Why should they be? More likely than not they have made their living doing something other than investing, so why would they think they can do what a professional does better than a professional? (After all, they go to professionals for health care or for car repairs when needed!)

Most investors-even some professionals-tend to be "off" in their timing: they buy things when they are hot, not when they are cold. But for the greatest benefit, it should be the opposite. The media doesn't help much when it comes to this buying approach, and let's face it; greed and fear play a large part in most peoples' investment decisions.

I truly believe the majority of people would be better of (that is, they would end up with more money at the end of the day) if they used professional money managers to advise them on their investing. Specifically I am referring to Registered Investment Advisors with proven track records of performance in investing in stocks, bonds, mutual funds

Let me burst one myth right off the bat: You don't have to be a millionaire to engage the services of a topnotch advisor. Some people think you need to start an account with $50,000 or more to get a really good advisor. Well, you may have more choices if you're at that level, however you can find very successful Investment Advisors who will accept opening accounts for as little as $5000.

There are literally thousands of Registered Investment Advisors in the US. Just what do they do-what service do they provide you? They do the legwork; the research and analysis. Maybe more importantly, they keep their primary focus on the markets, and specifically on their specialty area like individual stocks, mutual funds, or bonds.

Because they spend the bulk of their time and energy researching, considering, and analyzing, they naturally have a greater sense of the market and its movements than those of us who don't put this kind of attention into it. So, with the right advisor, you can keep your focus on what you want-like your business or your retirement or whatever-and still get the information you want and need to invest wisely.

How Do You Find The Advisor for You?

Since there are good Investment Advisors and bad ones, how do you find the former and avoid the latter? Good question, and there are some keys. Most large brokerage firms list the Investment Advisors they work with and maintain information about their past performance. This is not a foolproof resource, though, since they tend to recommend the Investment Advisors who invest in their products or clear their business with the firm. So if you pursue this avenue, you need to watch for conflict of interest issues.

You can always subscribe to one of the numerous database services that include information, and sometimes rankings, on Investment Advisors. These services tend to be fairly pricey, though, so they may not be your best choice. Another option is to find articles (yes, like this one) or free newsletters written by Investment Advisors. If you find one or several that make sense to you, check out the IA and see if there's chemistry between you.

When checking out advisors, here are some things to keep in mind:

1.) Verify their record -- look over their past performance; 2.) Consider their system. Will it work in different market environments?; 3.) As best you can, check out their operation and 4.) See if they've had regulatory problems. 5.) Equally important as doing your due diligence is making sure there is good communication between you and your advisor and that you trust this person with your money choices.

Another quick free way to scan through a select database and find a wide variety of candidates is with . I'm registered there myself as an advisor and know that the company did a background check regarding registrations and regulatory issues.

An important question to ask is the how the advisor gets compensated. You want to stay away from commission junkies or salesmen disguised as advisors. I believe that you will get the best unbiased advice from someone who is paid a management fee based on the value of the assets that you entrust them with.

To take it one step further, ask if the advisor invests his own money in the same methodology that he recommends for his clients. If he doesn't, ask why. If you don't like the answer, close your check book and run as fast as you can.

Choosing an Investment Advisor can yield long-term high profit benefits. I encourage you to consider it if you haven't before. However, as with any relationship, make sure there's a fit before you jump into it.

About the Author

Ulli Niemann is an investment advisor and has been writing about objective, methodical approaches to investing for over 10 years. He eluded the bear market of 2000 and has helped hundreds of people make better investment decisions. To find out more about his approach and his FREE Newsletter, please visit: .


Balaji 20.11.2010. 17:18

how do i become a registered investment advisor in ca? I want to become a state-certified investment advisor & start my own financial planning practise in CA. I understand I have to pass the series 65 exam to qualify. What's the next step to this? I don't have anyone to sponsor me & I'm new to the field. I'd appreciate any feedback.


Admin 20.11.2010. 17:18

An registered investment advisor must register through FINRA (or a FINRA registered firm). This registration with applicable fees must filed within the state of the registered investment advisor's residence. Additionally, if the registered investment advisor wishes to conduct business in any other state, she can do so by filing and paying the appropriate fees for that state. There is no limit to the number of states an registered investment advisors may register in, but they must be current to solicit and conduct business there. Registered investment advisors who manage over $25 million must also register with the SEC.


pete6356 30.01.2011. 15:49

Can you suggest half-dozen important questions to ask a new investment advisor BEFORE doing business with him? Within the next couple of weeks I will be moving a big chunk of money from one well known national investment advisor to another.

The current one (I feel) did not give me the attention I deserve and am unhappy with the returns over the past 10-yrs.


Admin 30.01.2011. 15:49

The first thing I would do is check his disciplinary record with FINRA. You can do that here:

If his record comes back as no reportable disclosures, that means he has a clean regulatory history. You can also check into his firm at the same time.

Questions I would start with:

1) How do you get paid for managing my portfolio, and how much?
2) What is your investment philosophy? (Make sure it fits with yours.)
3) What types of securities will you recommend to me? (stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, etc.)
4) How often do you make adjustments in your clients' portfolios?
5) How much input will you seek/accept from me on portfolio composition?
6) How often will you meet with me or call me to review the portfolio and give me updates?


davy c 24.11.2007. 20:23

How do I become an investment advisor? I currently have a BS in interdisciplinary studies (from a basically unknown school) and was accepted into medical school. However, I am trying to decide whether or not to continue since medical education cost so much. I am very bright, although I need to work on interpersonal skills. What I really want to know is how to get started in an investment advisor career. I know there might be several years of slaving, but there is at least 7 years of that to become a doctor anyway.

davy c

Admin 24.11.2007. 20:23

you need to get a job with a bank that will pay for your licensing. I am state licensed for investment products as well as insurance products and have no paid a dime. There are different rules for every state but i know where i live there are basically 4 tests you would have to pass... honestly though i would highly recommend starting as a banker or somewhere in that position to learn the skills and selling skills for the job. You also said you need to work on interpersonal skills... if you dont build rapore with your clients you wont make anything.


Randall L 06.04.2009. 03:40

Starting my own firm financial planning and investment advisor? Hello I am wanting to start me own firm for financial planning and investment advisor.
Do I need to get my Series 6 or 7 or Series 63 or 65 I am really confused on what I need
You would think in college they would have covered this, but they didn?t . Also can you tell me what each series 6-7 etc is exactly for.
Thanks for your help in advance. RL

Randall L

Admin 06.04.2009. 03:40

Call your state securities commission. They can give you all the information you need. Or contact FINRA at and they can tell you who to contact in your state.


sam 29.08.2008. 14:03

What is the best place to search for hourly fee based financial planners / investment advisors? What is the best place to search for hourly fee based financial planners / investment advisors?


Admin 29.08.2008. 14:03

I don't work for the company but did years ago. But there are other firms beside this one that have the same services offered. My advice is that you take the time to 'interview' different places and go with the one that you feel most comfortable with. That is the key, if you aren't able to relax and open up to someone, move on to the next one. With that being said...
I would recommend that you find a local Edward Jones Investment office. (They are everywhere around the suburbs of major cities)
They are great when it comes to people that can help you with the management of ones assets.
The best part is that they can help you put away money that will help you in the long run. The best part is they don't have hourly fees. Something the company enforces.
However, they aren't the place that you want to go if you wanted to buy stocks. That isn't their expertise. They may claim to be, but trust me they aren't-
Look on the internet for their site, or google Edward Jones Investments. On there you can even look for an office near you.


Mackenzie 30.12.2012. 19:22

What cities have the best jobs for Investment Advisors? What cities in Canada do you think would have the most job opportunities for an Investment Advisor or Money Manager?


L? 24.05.2009. 17:52

How do I become an investment advisor? Alright so i want to be a financial or investment adviser. could anyone please list as much detail about becoming an investment adviser.
BTW i live canada


Admin 24.05.2009. 17:52

You have to take a couple of exams administered by FINRA and register with your state securities regulator; your state securities commission. Contact your state securities regulator and they can tell you what exams you need in your state and registration requirements. You probably dont need to be registered with the SEC unless you have $25 million under management. After you pass the exams and get registered you will need to make up a contract, with certain points in it, and file a form ADV with FINRA. There are no educational requirements unless your state may require them.


nene n 08.06.2010. 21:18

where do you see yourself in 5 years when working as an investment advisor? Please help me answer this question,
Where do you see yourself in 5 years when working as an Investment Advisor, pls help out. thanks

nene n

Admin 08.06.2010. 21:18

Reassure your interviewer that you're looking to make a long - term commitment that this position entails exactly what you're looking to do and what you do extremely well.
As for your future, you believe that if you perform each job at hand with excellence, future opportunities will take care of themselves.


Supreme 21.04.2013. 16:46

Is it possible to be a financial advisor at 21? I have a burning desire to pursue a financial planning career. However, based on the information I read, I may not be eliable to be one.

I'm still in college, so I know I am not qualified to be a CFP/CFA. But would I be eliable to be a registered investment advisor?


Admin 21.04.2013. 16:46

There is no such word as "eliable".
And no one will take financial advice from a 21 year old.


j_m_camilleri 13.07.2008. 12:56

What are you charged for financial planning or investment advice? Many financial services providers tout their financial advice as being for free. But we all know nobody does anything for free. Aparently there are a bewlidering number of ways in which investment advisors make their money such as trading commissions, hourly frees, trailer fees, management fees, performance fees and so on.

I would like to hold an online survey to gauge which methods most Y!Answers users come across and their views on each method or which method their prefer most.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.


Admin 13.07.2008. 12:56

Many financial advisors will offer free consultations in the hope that you will decide to purchase investmenst products from them.

Although there are many commission-based advsiors who are excellent, there is a growing belief that using a fee-based advisor tends to eliminate any potential conflicts of interest. If an advisor charges a fee- either hourly or based on assets managed (i.e. 1% per year)- then there is no incentive to him to put you in high-commission products for his own gain. There should be no commissions with a fee-based advisor.


Write a comment

* = required field





* Yes No