Many of us need legal, financial, retirement, accounting, estate, long-term care or similar planning services. We seek help from planning advisors possessing the necessary training. Many planning advisors are well-qualified, capable, and make fair disclosure of pertinent information to their clients. Unfortunately, unqualified or dishonest individuals masquerade as expert planning advisors. Many of them provide sub-standard services or have hidden financial motives in providing their “planning services.”
H.E.L.P. has developed the Ask First! form as a tool to help you. Using the Ask First! form, you ask the advisor to disclose in writing his or her credentials and ways of being paid. Keep a copy of the form handy. Use Ask First! at the beginning, before you start a relationship with a new advisor. If the person is reluctant to complete the form, take this as a warning.
- If the person will not put your interests first, take this as a warning.
- Review the person’s answers, and look for missing or inconsistent information.
- Check out the person’s licenses and other credentials, and past complaints and sanctions.
- If the person doesn’t answer all the questions, or if the answers make you uncomfortable, or if the answers do not “check out,” do not do business with the person. Look for another advisor!
At the same time you use Ask First! be sure to ask for and check the advisors references.
Ask First! is a PDF form that can be downloaded free, and printed out for your use. If you do not have a PDF reader — you can obtain one for free from Adobe.
Remember: Ask First!