This investor and her friends and neighbors were victimized by a friendly financial advisor who was also a criminal. See For Retirees, Investment Fraud Can Have a Friendly Face. The good news is this type of criminal theft is a fairly rare occurrence. What is not so rare is legal fraud by licensed financial advisors. This occurs when financial advisors put their financial interests ahead of their clients, sell bad products that pay big commissions, and misrepresent or omit pertinent information about themselves. For example, they neglect to tell you six weeks ago they were selling used cars at Joe’s, but now they represent themselves as trustworthy financial experts.
This type of sales activity, legal or illegal, takes advantage of human nature. If a financial advisor can get you to like him, he knows you inherently trust people you like. Once trust is established the financial advisor can sell you anything including illegal Ponzi schemes and bad investment products that pay big commissions. To make matters worse, these advisors may belong to your organizations (church, country club). Bernie Madoff used this sales tactic. Now they are likable and you have a common interest (also called affinity marketing). This is why some of the biggest frauds in history have occurred in churches.
How do you protect yourself from friendly financial advisors? You could remind yourself personalities have nothing to do with financial competence or ethics. But, this is not easy. You are up against your own predisposition to trust people you like. A better solution is to use the free research tools on the Paladin Research website (www.PaladinRegistry.com). They gather objective data that you can use to compare advisors and select the one with the best qualifications. Of utmost importance, Paladin’s tools are not influenced by advisor personalities or sales skills.
These free Paladin Research & Registry tools also make sense for another important reason. Financial advisors know you will not commit the time it takes to create your own objective selection process. They know it is so much easier to make subjective decisions based on personalities and undocumented sales claims. Unfortunately it is also a dangerous way to select advisors. Now, you don’t have to develop your own process, Paladin has done it for you. Paladin Research helps you make the right decision and it is free. All you have to do is spend a few minutes on the Paladin website.