November 30, 2009

Suze Ormans Signs of a Bad Financial Advisor

A couple weeks ago I caught an episode of the Suze Orman show and she gave her top signs of a bad financial advisor.

Here is Suze Orman's list of the signs of a bad financial advisor:

1. They rush you
2. They don't tell you fees or commissions
3. Want you to put everything in one investment
4. Want to meet only you and don't want to meet your spouse
5. Does not ask about your needs

I'd generally agree with all these in most cases.

Rushing you is not good at all. Theres no reason you have to make a decision immediately. You should be able to think on things for a day or two without any worries and if they say otherwise then thats a bad sign.

They should definitely be explaining fees and their commissions. Be wary of anyone who doesn't go into that or share that info when asked.

I think there can be exceptions to #3 for sure. Say you've only got $50k to invest and they recommend you put it into a safe bank account cause you're saving for a house. Thats a good reason to put all your money in one place. Or maybe you're retiring and they suggest you put $100k into a fixed annuity. That isn't necessarily bad advice (depending on the terms of the annuity).

For #4, If you're married or have someone else with a stake in your finances then the advisor should want to talk to all the parties. If they don't then that is generally a problem. But I wouldn't be so hard fast on this one. If a husband or wife seeks some advice without their spouse then I don't think the advisor should necessarily demand to talk to the other spouse.

Lastly if an advisor doesn't ask you what you need then thats not a very good advisor. They can't meet your needs if they don't ask for your needs. Advice can be either good or bad depending on the situation. I wouldn't tell a 20 year old saving for retirement to put their money in a bank CD and I wouldn't tell a 70 year old on a fixed income to put their life savings in stock funds.

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