Why We All Should Take Reagan's Advice

Every time we hear a story of a professional athlete or someone close to us that has had money stolen from them by a financial advisor, manager or family member, we feel bad, but all ask that one question, “How did they let this happen?”

The answer, believe it or not, is very simple: time. As most victims admit, 'I didn’t have enough time to pay attention to what was going on until it was too late.'

Whether it is Richard (Rip) Hamilton, who is accusing his former business manager of stealing $1 million or individuals involved with Bernie Madoff, the theme is the same.  The reason Rip's manager and Bernie were able to carry on their alleged crimes against their victims for years is that people lacked the time (or desire) to check over their statements.

This should be a lesson for all of us - if you feel that you don’t have the time to monitor your finances, you too could be a victim. 

It is very important that you check every account at least every 3-4 months, just to make sure everything looks right; especially if you suspect an advisor, family member or even spouse who has access might be up to something.

If you don’t have a clue what you’re looking at, ask questions.  Lots of questions.  Keep going until you feel comfortable.

It is your money and if your gut says something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.  Here is a quick list of questions that you should ask to anyone who you are considering hiring to help you with your money: 

· How do you make your money?
· Am I a client of yours or your firm?
· If I have a problem or complaint, who do I call?
· Will you put all your recommendations in writing, on your letterhead?
· What areas of my finances will you provide me advice on?
· Who will hold or be the custodian of my money?

Even after you hire someone, continue to do your homework. Look at your statements, ask questions, and do as Ronald Reagan used to say during the cold war: “Trust, but verify.”

Mr. Beck is a partner at Wealth Management Group of North America, LLC, a state Registered Investment Advisory firm – Farmington, CT and is registered with National Planning Corporation (NPC), Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.  He is not employed by NBC Universal or NBC30.  For more information please visit his website by clicking here

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