April is Financial Literacy Month

Have you checked the background of your financial professional?

Welcome to April and Financial Literacy Month! Have you set some financial goals to become financially healthy? One important component of Financial Literacy month is SmartCheck Week, April 6-12, 2016. SmartCheck Week promotes the importance of checking the background of financial professionals.

In 2015, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) received 3,250 investor complaints which resulted in 736 individuals suspended and 496 individuals barred. It is important to research any professionals that you may work with because not all financial professionals are the same. Some have different certifications, educational backgrounds, or reputations. You can check the background of a potential financial professional and find other resources by visiting the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commissions, SmartCheck website.  You can also SmartCheck challenge and see how you do at finding the fraudster.

In addition to using the SmartCheck website, Investor.gov recommends that you should ask the following questions when deciding to work with a financial professional. They include:

  • What experience do you have, especially with people in my circumstances?
  •  What are your qualifications and what is your experience?
  • What licenses do you hold? Are you registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Michigan’s Department of Financial and Insurance Services, or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)?
  • Exactly what services do you provide?
  • Do you provide periodic portfolio performance reports?
  • How do you charge for your services?
  • Who else may be handling my account?
  • Will you provide me with a recent copy of your U-4 or form ADV Part I and Part II?

Asking these questions will determine if the financial professional is the best person to manage your finances.

Finding the right financial professional takes time, patience, and research. Want to see how you fare on a financial health survey, don’t forget to check out the Michigan State University Extension online Financial Health Survey and get your score.

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