Part I provides a quick summary of this advisor’s credentials, ethical history, and business practices. See additional descriptive information in Parts IV through VIII of this research report.
Part II provides general contact information
You should use the Internet to conduct your own online research for advisors before you select them:
This part of the research report contains important information that describes an advisor’s relationship to various financial firms.
RIA (Registered Investment Advisor): This type of firm registration permits the advisor to provide financial advice and services for fees.
Broker/Dealer: This type of firm licenses representatives who sell financial products for commissions.
Relationship: The advisor may be an owner, employee, partner, or independent contractor.
Tip: Make sure you know who owns the advisor’s RIA and Broker/Dealer (if applicable). The firm may look independent, but it may be owned by a bank or insurance company. Google the name of the owner to make sure there is no history of financial fraud, misrepresentation, or omission.
You want a real expert with documented credentials helping you plan your financial future and invest your assets in the securities markets.
Real experts have valid, documented credentials that include degrees, experience, and high quality certifications.
Experience: Years of experience is the best way for advisors to become real financial experts.
Education: Degrees should be from accredited institutions. Use the Internet to research schools you may not have heard of. Some advisors buy degrees to appear more knowledgeable than they really are.
Certifications: Also called designations, certifications are the best way for advisors to acquire specialized knowledge in shorter time periods. Some certifications are extremely valuable (CFA, CFP, CIMA, CPA). 35% of certifications are fake (Source: Paladin Research).
Associations: Membership in quality associations can also be a source of specialized knowledge if the organizations have continuing education requirements.
Firm Credentials: Some advisors represent firms that employ or license multiple professionals. Some of these professionals may impact your financial results.
Tip: Real experts have good educations, years of experience, and high quality certifications and designations.
You want a real financial expert. You also want an expert you can trust.
Registration: Only Registered Investment Advisors (firms) and Investment Advisor Representatives (professionals) can provide financial advice and ongoing services for fees.
Type of Registration: RIAs with less than $100 million of assets register with your state’s Securities Commissioner. RIAs with more than $100 million of assets register with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Industry Licenses: These licenses permit advisors to sell investment and insurance products for commissions.
Registration & License Numbers: Use the advisor and firm’s registration and license numbers to check compliance records at: FINRA.org, SEC.gov, your State’s Securities Commissioner, and your State’s Insurance Commissioner.
State Licensing: Make sure the advisor is licensed to sell investment and insurance products in your state. Make sure the advisor is properly licensed before you buy.
Financial Fiduciary: RIAs and IARs are fiduciaries who are held to the highest ethical standards in the financial service industry. Salesmen are held to lower ethical standards that do not require them to put your financial interests first.
Compliance Record (Investment): Does an advisor or firm have disclosures on compliance records that are maintained by FINRA.org, SEC.gov, or your state’s Securities Commissioner?
Compliance Record (Insurance): Does an advisor or firm have disclosures on compliance records that are maintained by your state’s Insurance Commissioner?
Criminal Disclosures: It may be hard to believe, but convicted felons can obtain securities licenses if their crimes were not securities related.
Additional Disclosures: Advisors and firms have the option of providing additional disclosures that are published on their Paladin Research Reports.
ADVs: RIAs file ADVs with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These documents provide valuable information about advisory firms.
Links: Click on these links to view additional information about advisors and firms on third party websites.
Part VII describes the advisor’s business and practices. How does the advisor’s business practices compare to other professionals you are considering?
Business Philosophy: Every advisor has a business philosophy. This makes philosophy a differentiating characteristic. Compare philosophies and select the one that has the highest probability of helping you achieve your financial goals.
Minimum Asset Requirement: A high percentage of financial advisors have minimum asset requirements for new clients. Advisors with bigger practices tend to have higher minimums. Advisors with smaller practices tend to have lower minimums. Some advisors will work with anyone who would benefit from their services.
Number of Current Clients: An indicator for the scope of an advisor or firm’s current business.
Assets Under Management or Advisement: An indicator for the scope of an advisor or firm’s current business.
Method(s) of Compensation: A critical variable when you select a financial advisor. Real advisors are compensated with fees. Salesmen are compensated with commissions. Some professionals receive both types of compensation.
Methods of Communication: Traditional advisors will meet face-to-face in your location or their offices. Virtual advisors communicate via email, telephone, or Skype. All Robo advisor communications are online.
Types of Reports: Performance reports are the most important type of documentation. You may also want brokerage statements, market environment reports, and newsletters.
Second Language: It may be important to you that your advisor speaks a second language.
Value Statement: This statement may describe how this advisor or firm produces value that offsets expenses that are deducted from your accounts. The statement may also describe differentiating characteristics.
Tip: Select an advisor or firm that has an investor-friendly business model and practices.
Ayaz Mahmud is the Founder and CEO of West Branch Capital. He is a dedicated Portfolio Manager for Client accounts of the firm and also serves as the firms Chief Compliance Officer. Mr. Mahmud earned a Bachelors Degree from Syracuse University in 1976 and a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Arts from Syracuse University in 1982.
Part VIII provides information about this advisor or firm’s clientele and services.
Types of Clients: Describes the types of clients this advisor or firm works with. You should ask for a breakdown of clients to make sure the advisor works with a lot of clients like you.
Types of Services: Describes the types of services that are provided by this advisor or firm. Make sure the advisor provides the services that you are seeking.
Discretionary Asset Management: Some advisors and firms make investment decisions for clients without the clients’ approval in advance.
Limited Engagement Services: Some advisors provide limited engagement services that do not require assets.
Custodian(s): Financial advisors are not allowed to come in contact with your assets. They use the services of third party or firm custodians to hold your assets for you. Make sure the advisor uses the services of a brand name custodian or a custodian with a long history of providing services to investors with billions of dollars of assets.
Tip: There are five types of financial advice and services: Planning, Investment, Insurance, Tax, and Legal (wills, trusts).
Certification: Advisors certify the data in this research report are complete and accurate. Check Most Recent Update to determine the last time this advisor or firm updated this report.