Managing Your Money

5 Tips to Avoid a Real “Wolf of Wall Street”

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for WolfIntro.jpgIt’s Oscar Season! Recently, the Wall Street Journal did a story on Jordan Belfort, aka “the Wolf.” According to the WSJ, Belfort has left the country and may be reneging on his promise to repay investors he bilked. This tale of the Wolf is a very sad story. While Hollywood loves to hammer Wall Street, the “Wolf of Wall Street” is not about Wall Street. It is about a persuasive character’s vices and his eventual downfall. Though it has nothing to do with financial planning, it does offer an opportunity to remind investors about key basic tenets they should follow when researching or selecting a planner. Using the movie’s 2014 Oscar nominations, here are five simple tips to always keep in mind to protect you and your financial future.

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• Best Screenplay Adaptation •

Keep it Simple. Though not a pretty story, the screenplay writers kept it simple and stuck with Jordan Belfort’s story. Investing is similarly simple. Always remember two things: be comfortable and be in control. Never be pressured into a deal that is too good to be true.


• Best Supporting Actor •

The Award Goes to… Jonah Hill may be up for the award, but the Best Supporting Actor when it comes to financial planning is you. When you are searching for a Certified Financial Planner™, go to FPA’s PlannerSearch.

FPA PlannerSearch Participants:
• Are FPA members in good standing
• An RIA or bank affiliate
• Adhere to FPA's Code of Ethics
• Abide by the FPA Standard of Care
(Photo credit: Mary Cybulski - © 2013 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.)


• Best Actor •

Research your Planner. There’s a reason director Martin Scorsese likes Leonardo DiCaprio so much…he’s that good. Consider the CFP Board (CFP.Net) your go-to resource to check out a CFP® Professional's background. FINRA and the SEC also have search capabilities for registered participants. At a minimum make sure your selected planner is licensed. Additionally, Registered Investment Advisors must provide a disclosure brochure. Be sure to read it.
(Photo credit: Mary Cybulski - © 2013 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.)


• Best Director •

Reputation Counts. Ultimately, your investments will be held in custody at some bank or trust company. A high quality custodian is not going to allow illicit shenanigans to be conducted on their platform. Seeking a good custodian is by far your first line of defense.
(Photo credit: Mary Cybulski - © 2013 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.)


• Best Picture •

Think Big Picture. The most effective planners are long-term thinkers. While capital market volatility may at times trigger some fast decision making, planners will typically not entice you with a "we need to move now" offering. (Parting shot: it goes without saying, if your planner’s nickname is “Wolfie,” hold on to your wallet!).
(Photo credit: Mary Cybulski - © 2013 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.)

By Bill Harris, CFP™ and Financial Planning Association of Massachusetts Program Director
Bill Harris is a certified financial planner practitioner. He is a member of the board of directors for the Financial Planning Association of MA and an Ed Slott Elite IRA Advisor. He is a co-founder and principal of WH Cornerstone Investments in Duxbury and Kingston.

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