Questions to ask before investing money
Many people who ask me about investments or setting up an appointment often preface it by saying, “I’m sorry, this is probably a stupid question, but…”
Most people are afraid to ask questions about their investments for fear of sounding ignorant or admitting in some way that they don’t have all of their “stuff together.”
But there truly are no stupid questions when it comes to investments. Every question leads to more knowledge, and that’s a good thing.
Here are some questions you should always ask before investing your money:
First, let’s start with questions about the investment itself:
Is this product registered with the SEC or my state agency?
Does this investment match my investment goals? Why do you feel it is suitable for me?
How does this investment make money? Dividends? Interest? Capital gains?
What are the total fees to purchase it? Not just commissions but any underlying fees as well.
Is this investment liquid? Are there any fees associated with accessing my money?
Can you tell me about the management team? Many companies tout past performance, but that may have come from a team that isn’t there anymore.
What is a reasonable return to expect for this investment? How has it performed over the long run? Many managers who highlight performance do so after a great year. If you are a long-term investor, that might not be meaningful to you.
What are the risks associated with this investment? What would cause it to lose money?
Next is a list of questions you should ask about the adviser:
How long have you been in business?
What education or credentialing do you have? The credentials should match the advice you’re looking for. For example, if you need planning advice, the advisor should be a Certified Financial Planner professional. If you want investment advice, then they should hold designations such as Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®), or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®).
What is your investment philosophy?
How do you get paid? Do you get paid more if I buy this vs. that?
How often should we meet to discuss my investments?
If I leave your firm, what fees will I be charged, if any? Most custodians charge a fee for outgoing transfers and/or closed accounts.
These questions are not inclusive, and you may have more depending on your situation. Ask a question more than once if you don’t understand the answer the first time — or ask your adviser to rephrase the answer.
Understanding your investments and doing your due diligence on the adviser you’re working with is similar to researching a physician and understanding your prescribed medications.
You wouldn’t leave your health to chance, and the same type of care should be taken with your money.
T. Eric Reich, CIMA®, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, is president and founder of Reich Asset Management, LLC.
This article was written by and presents the views of the author, not Kiplinger editorial staff. Check adviser records with the SEC or FINRA.
© 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.