Jun 15

Butcher Elder Law’s Top Eleven Tips for Picking a Financial Advisor

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The United Nations designated June 15, 2017 to be World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The day is meant to focus on the “health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world” when “the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of our older generations”. [1] We ask you to observe the day and reach out to a senior that you know. Elder abuse is often exposed too late after the senior has passed.

Butcher Elder Law would like to share a few tips for picking a financial advisor to assist seniors and their families choose reputable, upstanding financial advisors. We want to do our part to help stop unscrupulous professionals that may financially abuse seniors and other at risk adults. Often seniors may be vulnerable to financial exploitation through practices of advisors such as overcharging for services, selling of deceptive products, or undue influence. According to a study conducted by MetLife Mature Market Institute, The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, and The Center for Gerontology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, “Financial abuse by itself costs older Americans over $2.6 billion dollars annually”.

Here is a list of our top eleven tips:

  1. Ask what licenses the professional holds – licenses are obtained through examinations and determine what type of products the advisor is legally allowed to sell.
  2. Interview more than one investment professional – presumably the relationship could last a lifetime, do your due diligence.
  3. Ask for recommendations from friends or family – the key questions to ask are “How responsive is the advisor?” and “Have there ever been any disagreements?”
  4. Use the internet for your benefit – read the blogs or articles written by the advisor, and check to see if there are any reviews or current news stories about the advisor.
  5. Work with professionals that will explain the products and do not say, “Trust Me!” – be proactive in your approach to investing and read your statements and ask questions. Make sure the advisor gives you time to process the investment choices.
  6. Make sure the professional (firm) is registered with a regulatory agency – a professional may be registered with FINRA, the SEC, or a state securities regulator.
  7. Comparison Shop – Work with an advisor that sells many different types of products so that you will get the product that works best for you. As Sam likes to say, “If all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.”
  8. Make sure the investment philosophy of the professional you choose matches yours – the advisor should feel the same way about your money that you do!
  9. Know the fees being charged – ask how the professional is charged and ask what fees are attached to what products. Be aware that many products may have upfront fees, as well as, ongoing or redemption charges.
  10. Learn what the professional designations mean – professional designations are not the same as licenses. They are additional credentials that an advisor may hold. Not all designations are equal and some may help pinpoint advisors that solely sell insurance products.
  11. Find out the advisor’s background – Work with an advisor with an educational background in finance. Why did the advisor choose to work in finance?


We hope that these eleven tips will help you and your family make wise choices about who to trust with your money. Prevent Mistakes. Preserve Assets.

[1] United Nations – http://www.un.org/en/events/elderabuse/