Anybody can sell investment products whether they are licensed or not. Taken to an extreme a financial advisor may be part of a sophisticated criminal enterprise that makes scams look like real investments.
One of the easiest ways investors can protect their retirement assets is to make sure financial advisors are licensed professionals in good standing with the organizations that licensed them.
Advisors who sell investment products have Series 6 and Series 7 licenses that are issued by FINRA.org. Each advisor has a unique identifier called a CRD number. Investors should require all advisors to provide CRD numbers and use them to check their licensing and compliance records at FINRA.org/BrokerCheck.
Anyone who is selling insurance products has to be licensed to conduct business in a state. Ask for the agents’ license numbers and check them with your state’s Department of Insurance.
Use the same process for people selling real estate products (equity and debt). Obtain their license numbers and check them with your state’s Department of Real Estate.
Alternative Investments for Retirement Assets
Investors are also looking for better returns, in particular increased income and reduced risk, when they invest their retirement assets. In many cases, their quests caused them to buy investments that were sold by unlicensed advisors; i.e., real estate property, real estate mortgages, oil and gas investments, and other types of partnership interests. The investors got away from Wall Street, but they jumped from the frying pan into the fire.
Investors may have made themselves easy prey for unlicensed sales representatives. These unlicensed reps can sell unlicensed products with impunity for years. The only time they risk exposure is when an investor files a complaint with a regulatory agency. Then the rep disappears and re-surfaces in another state.
Do not buy, no matter how alluring the sales pitch, from any person or firm who cannot document their licensing. And, spend a few minutes researching the licenses to validate the accuracy of what is told to you. Trust what you see, not what you hear.