Is it Free Financial Advice or a Sales Pitch?

financial advice or sales pitchI happened upon a free financial advice talk show on the radio; the guest was an expert, someone who had been a long time manager in a Social Security office with great knowledge and experience to share.  The “host” was a local broker, and while there was good information to be gleaned, it didn’t take long to figure out that the show was mostly an infomercial designed to lure investors in for a sale.  The guest provided stories about people who hadn’t understood the Social Security system and talked about how listeners could maximize their benefits.  Callers asked questions about unusual life circumstances that left them vulnerable to Social Security mishaps.  When there were breaks in the interview, the host or an announcer talked about the difficulty and importance of understanding one’s Social Security options, and offered a “free” analysis for listeners who were within five years of retirement and had at least $250,000 in investible assets.  This “free” analysis sounded to me like a screening mechanism for prospective commission generation.

None of us in the “for profit” world can work for free for very long, I understand that as a business owner.  But the “free financial advice” offer seemed less than genuine when qualified by the amount of investible assets the potential client had.    Will the financial advisor be acting in the best interest of the Social Security recipient, or focusing on what can be sold during the consultation?  Will the Social Security financial advice be comprehensive and customized, or a quick stop on the path to an investment or insurance sale?

It is very helpful to get counsel when making any financial decision, and important to know the experience and motivation of any person providing advice.   Unfortunately, many of the “advisors” people turn to are not set up to offer unbiased advice.  Commissions taint recommendations, even from honest sales reps working hard to help their customers.  At the end of the day, they “only eat what they kill”, as I once heard a broker say, and without a sale there isn’t a payday.

It is important to seek financial advisors who are working in your best interest.  Find out as much as you can about your financial planner or advisor; verify their credentials and find out whether they uphold the Fiduciary Standard.  To read about your advisor’s background you can visit SEC.govPaladin Registry is a source for searching out Fiduciary Advisors; advisors pay a monthly membership fee to be listed and are vetted by Paladin before joining.

To learn more about Sharon Weaver, view her Paladin Registry profile.

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