FA Center: Use these online watchdogs before giving a financial adviser your money

Most financial advisers act with honesty and integrity. While their investment philosophies may vary, the vast majority of them will be responsible stewards of your financial assets.

Still, it’s your job to vet an adviser before signing on. Fortunately, the process is relatively painless. Start by entering an adviser’s name into BrokerCheck, a free online tool provided by FINRA, a private, non-governmental group that develops and enforces rules and standards for broker-dealers.

BrokerCheck summarizes an adviser’s experience, employment history, exams passed (such as Series 7, a test that registered representatives must pass to sell securities) and state licenses. It also cites the number of “disclosures” — disciplinary events — based on data provided by advisory firms, the U.S.

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