Websites offer help managing money

By Reid Kanaley The Philadelphia Inquirer

There’s no shortage of people who want to manage your money, so how do you check them out? Guard against becoming the victim of the next Bernard Madoff with the help of these sites.

BrightScope.com, which describes its mission as being an independent service to “increase the retirement security of America’s workforce by bringing transparency and efficiency to the 401(k) plan market,” provides a search page for finding a financial planner or firm.

You may search by location, specialty, compensation arrangements, total assets under management and other criteria. Entries for each adviser show contact information, client ratings, employment history and ratings on a “BrightScope Advisor Metrics” bar chart. bit.ly/OzZov4.

Three questions: Dadditudes, a site about fatherhood that includes posts about making and managing money, features this recent post on what the author considers the three most important questions to ask when vetting a financial adviser.

Asking for references is No. 1. Beyond that, it’s important to have the adviser explain how he or she makes money — by commission or flat fee — and how long he or she has been in the business. bit.ly/P7xtpl.

BrokerCheck hotline: The Financial Industry Regulator Authority, at FINRA.org, has a free Web service for researching brokers, investment advisers and their firms. FINRA is a self-policing regulator for about 630,000 registered securities representatives.

The detailed reports on a firm can run to 30 or more printable pages and cover a firm’s history and any actions against it by regulators, or its disclosed involvement in civil or criminal judicial proceedings.

By the way, FINRA also has a toll-free BrokerCheck hotline: 800-289-9999. bit.ly/P7xx8l.

SEC resources: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has a page of other things you can do to vet brokers and investment advisers. It suggests using the FINRA resources, and links to other groups and services with a hand in monitoring or insuring the industry, such as state securities regulators.

State sites are also where you go to file a complaint.1.usa.gov/aNU4pj.