Biz Bits: How to choose a financial adviser

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Tip of the Week

Even if you have a good handle on your investments, you may find that hiring a financial adviser - who can put the time and energy into making sure you and your family plan for a secure financial future - may be a worthwhile investment. By hiring an independent registered investment adviser - commonly referred to as an RIA - you can make sure your investments are managed on a full-time basis by a professional adviser, while still having control. TD Ameritrade offers these tips to consider as you choose an independent financial adviser or RIA:

- Just as it is wise to do research on the background of anyone who would take care of your children, you should investigate the person or company you enlist to handle your money. The Securities and Exchange Commission (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (www.finra.org), Certified Planning Board of Standards (www.cfp.net), National Association of Personal Financial Advisers (findanadviser.napfa.org/Home.aspx), Financial Planning Association (www.fpanet.org) and your state securities agency all collect background information on financial professionals that can be accessed through their websites.

- Know the difference between working with an independent RIA and a stock broker, or other financial services provider. Independent RIAs, for example, are bound by law to act in their clients' best interest. Brokers, on the other hand, are held to a "suitability" standard, meaning the advice they give must be suitable to that client's situation.

- While RIAs are required by law to act in your best interest, there are other ways that you can ensure they will do what is best for you. One is to ask how they are compensated. Fee-only compensation generally minimizes conflicts of interest and means that your adviser is paid only for the management services and advice he or she offers, and only by you, not by investment product providers. When an adviser is paid on commission, there's a greater chance he or she will make choices with your money that serve not only your interests, but their own as well. That's not to say that advisers do not work fairly under this model, but potential conflicts of interest are something to consider as you choose an adviser.

- ARA

BBB Watch

Everyone loves a good movie, and with today’s movie theater tickets costing more than 10 bucks a pop (and that’s not even including the “pop”), many moviegoers are opting to watch their favorite movies at home for free instead. “Free,” however, comes with a cost, a cost that many consumers don’t realize. The Better Business Bureau warns consumers against downloading “free” online movies. 

According to researchers from cloud security provider Zscaler, movie sites like www.letmewatchthis.com, www.letbobwatchthis.com and www.movie-source.org all look harmless when, in fact, they are luring consumers into a copyright infringement trap. Sites like these house hundreds of pirated movies and by downloading them onto your computer you are committing a copyright infringement.

“Consumers need to know the consequences of using such sites,” said Steve Cox, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “It is ultimately their responsibility to ensure that the files they are downloading and sharing are legal copies.”

According to the United States Copyright Office, an individual who uploads or downloads online movies that are protected by copyright law without the authority of the copyright owner can be subjected to copyright infringement violations. Such cases can be considered liable for statutory damages up to $30,000 for each work infringed.

For more information, go to www.bbb.org.

The List

According to a report by CNNMoney, here are the worst credit cards to have:

1. Applied Bank Unsecured Visa Gold Card

2. First Premier Bank MasterCard

3. Baby Phat Prepaid Visa RushCard

4. Hooters MasterCard

5. The Shack Credit Card

Number to Know

$47.7 billion: The amount that U.S. consumers spent on their pets in 2010, according to a report on CNNMoney.

Tech Talk

T-Mobile announced its turning off the data service that serves the Sidekick on May 31.

GateHouse News Service