Enlisting a Financial Professional Lisa January 22, 2014 Business Banking, Business Tips It’s a tale as old as time – or at least as old as Hollywood. A financial professional generates squillions of dollars on the stock market with apparent ease, living it up as a cosmopolitan sophisticate. Sex, champagne, and extravagant vessels are all-but-constant presences, until everything comes crashing down. It could be due to a stock market crash, or something more sinister . The ‘dark side of the high-stakes financier’ story has become a well-worn film premise. From Wall Street to American Psycho, to Rogue Trader, the first wave of what we could identify loosely as “trading films” took aim at corporate greed and capitalism gone mad in the 80s and 90s – sometimes literally. The genre’s experienced a resurgence since the GFC, with Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, this year’s controversial The Wolf Of Wall Street,and Ben Elton’s 2010 novel Meltdown taking aim at the hamartias of stock market professionals. Of course, most of these films are only based loosely on fact – if at all. Today, the securities fraud depicted in the 90s-set The Wolf Of Wall Street would be nigh impossible to even think of getting away with, due to the safety net of checks and balances that are now in place to prevent financial corruption. This said, you can never be too careful with your money. If you’re going to trust someone to take care of and hopefully expand your wealth, then it’s worth being entirely confident that they’re prudent, ethical, and genuinely knowledgeable. A number of tactics can verify your choice of financial manager, and stand you in good stead for years to come. Recommendations Beginning the search for a financial adviser/manager/professional of any description is probably the most difficult step in the process. Where does one start? In many cases, people will look to their family or close friends for a reference. Considering more than one recommendation is a good idea – although your parents might be financially secure in their golden years, there’s every chance that their own accountant is nearing retirement, too. When asking people for recommendations, be sure to clarify exactly what you want out of a financial professional. Is it a quick return, a stratospheric but risky portfolio, or a safe but small growth from year to year? Also take into account that individuals may feel pressured to tout the success of anyone they currently enlist – nobody wants to admit to poor investment decisions or big losses. Send requests for recommendations out via email, rather than face-to-face, to allow your sources to consider whether they’re comfortable with providing a contact. National Criminal Police Checks Before jumping into bed with a financial professional, every base should be covered. If you’re particularly concerned about risk, and want to avoid a slimy accountant at all costs, consider submitting your prospective new confidante to a National Crime Check to set your mind at ease. Criminal history record checks will flag any prior legal issues, and help quell any latent concerns that you’re about to employ the next Gordon Gekko. Wining and dining Emotions and intuition play a role in most significant business decisions. It’s easy to brush off niggling concerns or unanswered questions, but they’re often worth addressing. Money is inherently personal – enlisting an accountant or financial professional involves giving somebody access to some of your most private information. It makes sense, then, that you might hope to forge some sort of trusting relationship with your prospective new aide. A coffee, dinner, or other form of interaction away from the office will help you get a feel for a financial professional, setting your mind at ease.