All businesses need good, sound financial advice - especially today. While many financial advisers are perfectly competent professionals, some no doubt are unqualified or practice business in an unethical fashion. How do you tell the good from the bad? It is not easy when you are focused on the day-to-day operations of your business.
If you are looking for advice, start looking within your own company. Sometimes your finance staff is in a good position to make recommendations about the overall tax, investment, or retirement-savings strategies that is best for your company.
If you have the time, and you are computer savvy, you may want to try researching financial advice on your own. There are several sophisticated financial software programs available. And, the Internet offers a host of online stock trading services and advice on selling, trading and buying stocks. But be careful, there are a lot of web sites that offer plenty and deliver little to nothing. And, be cautious of unsolicited e-mail offering you get-rich-quick investment schemes.
For the business owner pressed for time, hiring the right financial adviser might pay off. Before you hire an adviser, the Better Business Bureau suggests the following:
- Investigate stockbrokers, financial planners, insurance salespeople and any other financial experts you may be considering.
- Take the initiative. Rather than waiting for experts you do not know to call you, put together your own short list of potential advisers - when and only when you have identified your needs. The best way to get names is by asking friends, relatives, corporate advisers and fellow business owners.
- Examine track records closely. If someone gives you an expert's name, make sure you know how he or she has performed.
- Interview several candidates. Find out what their skills are, how they were trained and certified and how long they have been in business. Ask if they have ever been censured, fined or otherwise disciplined by a regulatory agency. Also ask for referrals. Check out every fact the adviser has given you for accuracy.
- Check the company out with your Better Business Bureau.