How to pick a financial adviser

Check their background

When you’re reading over an adviser’s Form ADV, make sure to read item 11, which requires advisers to disclose any disciplinary history.

You should also do an Internet search for the adviser’s name plus keywords like "fraud," "scam," "fine," "suspension," "complaint" and "lawsuit."

Keep in mind that an adviser who is a fiduciary now might have a past as a broker. That means you should see what comes up when you search for the person in two additional places:

  • FINRA's BrokerCheck website, www.finra.org/Investors/ToolsCalculators/BrokerCheck.
  • The National Association of Insurance Commissioners website, naic.org/state_web_map.htm. It will point you to your state’s insurance regulation website, where you can research their history.

No background check is foolproof, but at least you’ll make sure you don’t miss any red flags you could have caught up front.