Financial advisors can be the secret weapon your company needs to take your business to the next level. Especially if you don’t have a business degree and don’t have any experience in this area. Let’s face it. You can be great at what you do, and still get the cold sweats when you hear terms like “balanced portfolio” or “risk profile.”
You’re not alone, and if you do fall into this category of business owner, getting the right financial advice when you need it is essential.
However, while a good financial advisor can take your business to heights you never imagined before, the wrong one can lose you a small fortune, or even land you in legal trouble. Use best practices in your background checks to ensure you choose the former and avoid the latter.
Word of mouth referrals are still a great way to find service providers like financial advisors, and if you belong to a business networking group, chamber of commerce or similar organizations, other members may well have recommendations for you. This is not the last step in your process of due diligence when you’re selecting a financial advisor, but it’ll give you a short list to work from.
Check Their Credentials
There are several pieces of legislation that govern financial advisors in Australia, and if the organization you are considering are also insurance brokers (which some are) there are additional requirements for insurance industry compliance.
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission and the Insurance Council of Australia are two bodies governing these sectors, and are a great source of information on licensing and regulatory requirements for these industries. Make sure that the companies and individuals you’re considering hiring meet all their compliance and certification requirements.
Do a Background Check
Typically, in Australia, you need permission from a person before you can do certain background checks, including criminal record checks and financial or credit history checks. You usually also need a good reason to run those checks, but there’s no better reason than that you are considering entrusting them with your company’s financial well being.
Don’t shy away from asking permission to do a full background check on the company and individuals you are considering working with, or hire a professional to do so on your behalf.
It doesn’t happen very often, but there are cases where financial advisors have pending cases in court, or other negative records, that they aren’t telling you about.
Get Everything in Writing
Once you’ve done your due diligence and chosen your financial advisor, and completed your screening process, the final step in the process is to formalize the arrangement. Make sure that you have a written contract that sets out the terms of your relationship with the company, what their responsibilities are, and their fees, your recourse in the event that you’re not happy with the service, and how either party can cancel the arrangement. Read the contract carefully, and don’t agree to any terms that you’re not completely comfortable with.
The relationship with a financial advisor is one of trust, so whatever you do, don’t rush into one if you’re not completely sure that you’ve made the right choice.