Saving for retirement can seem overwhelming, but getting started is often the hardest part, First, evaluate your current financial situation and long-term goals. That will help you determine what type of investment is right for you and if you need to enlist the help of a financial professional.
Determining your willingness to take risk
Are you willing to risk losing some or all of your money in order to earn higher returns, or are you more comfortable with lower returns knowing your initial investment is safer? Understanding how much risk you are comfortable taking determines your “risk tolerance,” which in turn informs which types of investment products are most suitable for you.
Choosing among your investment options
Each investment comes with certain characteristics, risk levels, and potential returns. Understanding your situation -- risk tolerance, time horizon, and specific goals -- will make it easier to choose the right investment for you.
Working with financial professionals
If you think you need guidance sorting through investment choices and monitoring the markets, you may want to seek the services of a financial services professional.
Verify that your financial adviser has the expertise you need and check that they are licensed through Commerce or the Securities and Exchange Commission. Defining what services you want will help decide which investment services provider is right for you.
Confused by titles?
The following are types of financial professionals that may provide securities-related advice:
- Investment Advisers (and investment adviser representatives) make specific investment recommendations based on your needs and owe a fiduciary duty to make those recommendations in your best interest. The investment adviser is paid a fee for the service they provide or may charge a percentage of the market value of the securities in your portfolio.
- Financial Planners are not licensed under Minnesota laws and rules. Any person may call themself a “financial planner.” If a financial planner provides investment advice for a fee, they must be registered as an investment adviser (investment adviser representative). If someone presents themselves as a financial planner, you should ask them about the licenses they hold and the services they provide.
- Brokers (and broker agents) buy and sell securities on your behalf and may provide investment recommendations. When making a recommendation, the agent is required to make suitable recommendations based on your investment objectives and risk tolerance.
Investigate before your invest
- What are all the fees, charges, or penalties involved in this investment?
- What products are your offering? (e.g., Annuities, Securities)?
- Who regulates this product or service?
- What are the risks?
- How does this product meet my investment objectives?
- What registration or licenses do you hold that authorize you to sell this product?
- How will you get compensated for selling this investment?
Red flags of fraud
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- An investment that seems to have no downside or risk, yet yields high profits. A high return almost always means high risk. Be skeptical of get-rich-quick schemes.
- Exaggerated claims and high pressure sales tactics
- A financial adviser who wants complete control of your money or requires complicated arrangements to send funds.
- A claim such as the offer is only "good for today" and the promise that you are getting insider or secret information.
Don't be a courtesy victim. Con artists will not hesitate to exploit your good manners. Save your politeness for friends and family members, not strangers looking for a quick buck!