Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

Where to Turn for Help with Investments

Investor Checklist

The key to finding the right investment services provider is asking the right questions - both of yourself and of prospective providers. Below are some questions that should help you identify the right provider for you.


Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Invest

Do you need help developing strategies to reach your financial goals or do you simply want suggestions on appropriate investment products to implement your goals?

Do you want assistance with a few targeted areas, or do you need a comprehensive plan for your finances?

Do you already have a portfolio of investments you would like help managing?

How involved do you want to be in decisions about your specific investments?

Do you prefer paying for investment services through a fee, commissions, a percentage of assets in your account, or a combination of these?

Do you prefer working with someone who is primarily considered a salesperson, an adviser, or a combination of the two?

How important is it to you that your provider have a legal obligation to act in your best interests and disclose potential conflicts of interest?


Questions to Ask Your Investment Services Provider

What services do you offer?

What qualifications do you have to offer those services?

How do you charge for those services? Do you receive compensation from other sources if you recommend that I buy a particular stock, mutual fund, or bond?

Would my account be an advisory account or a brokerage account?

Are you required by law to always act in my best interests? Will you put that commitment in writing?

What potential conflicts of interest do you have when recommending investment products to me, and will you disclose those conflicts?

Will you provide me with a written record of any disciplinary history for you and your firm?

Will you give me your Form ADV (the registration form that must be filed by investment advisers) and/or your Form U4 (the registration form used by persons who work with brokers)?

Source: The Coalition on Investor Education

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