Finding the right financial advisor source

By Ryan Sachetta
Medill News Service

CHICAGO – Your editor wants a personal finance story, but there’s one obstacle: You need a financial advisor source. What should you be considering and where should you be looking for potential sources?

Jim Pavia, senior editor at large at CNBC (Cassidy Trowbridge/Arizona State University)

That’s exactly what Jim Pavia, senior editor at large at CNBC, and John Waggoner, a columnist and reporter for the Money section of USA Today, discussed at Friday’s “Can You Trust That Financial Advisor?” session, moderated by Rachel Elson, editor-in-chief of Financial Planning, a New York-based B2B publication.

Pavia described himself as “bullish” on financial advisors and believes that each individual should hire one, but stressed that as a journalist, he must “walk the middle of the road” and provide the relevant information.

“Our job is to present good data for the reader and for the advisor as well,” he said.

Here are four suggestions the pair discussed with regard to selecting a reputable financial advisor source.

1) U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings are your friends

The SEC provides public filings of Form ADVs by current and former financial advisors where you can search via individual advisor and firm. Additionally, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority publishes BrokerCheck.

2) Vet your sources and cut through the jargon

Treat potential advisors with extensive vetting. “Credibility is key,” Pavia said. Without it, you can ruin a story, or worse, undermine a media company.

3Don’t put too much emphasis on an advisor’s various designations

Waggoner pointed out that designations from the Certified Financial Professionals Board and the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute are the industry’s most common. However, Pavia said that he doesn’t think “they mean anything to the average consumer,” calling some instances of multiple designations an “alphabet soup”. “I would seriously challenge an advisor who is swimming in alphabet soup,” he joked.

4) Reach out to local financial advisors listed on The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.

Reporters can narrow their search results by geography or area of expertise.

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