What resources should I use to research a prospective financial planner or investment manager?

The SEC offers an excellent resource to research financial professionals: the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website. The tool allows consumers to lookup information regarding both individual advisors and investment advisor firms. The database pulls data from the individual’s firm’s filings, FINRA’s BrokerCheck system, and state securities regulators. For investment advisor firms, the database also includes the firm’s Form ADV. The reports include employment history, disciplinary actions, professional registrations, criminal convictions, civil judgements, and arbitration awards—all details you should know before investing your money with someone.

When reviewing the report, pay particular attention to the section titled “Disclosure Event Details,” where any so-called disclosure events are listed, including, “certain criminal charges and convictions, formal investigations and disciplinary actions initiated by regulators, customer disputes and arbitrations, and financial disclosures such as bankruptcies and unpaid judgments or liens.”