Getting Help With Investing

All securities carry some amount of risk. Staying on top of your investments by yourself will require a strong desire to research and select investments, and to keep up with the markets, industries and businesses you are invested in. This usually involves a lot of time and some degree of expertise.

Selecting the right professional to help you may be one of the most important investment decisions you can make.

Who can help me?

You may be wondering who you can turn to in The Bahamas to assist with making investment decisions. Firms, which are approved by the Commission to provide such services, use several terms when describing themselves and their activities, including investment advisor, investment manager, wealth manager or broker.

What you need to know is that in order to offer investment advice as a business in The Bahamas, a firm must be registered with the Commission to do so. Such a business would be approved to “advise on securities”. The firm’s employee who actually provides the investment advice must also be registered as an “advising representative” by the Commission.

Be sure to check that the individual and the firm he or she is employed with are in fact registered with the Commission. You can also ask the Commission if it has ever taken any disciplinary action against the individual or firm.

All firms registered to conduct securities business along with the type(s) of securities business they are approved for appear on the Commission’s website. Employees and other individuals who are registered with the Commission are also listed. Also, you may call the Commission to find out if a firm or individual is licensed to advise on securities.

When you look at the tables, you may notice that firms can be registered for various securities business, including managing securities or advising on securities. These activities are different. A firm that is registered to manage securities will be able have clients who give the firm authority to make investment decisions on their behalf, whereas a firm licensed to advise on securities can provide their clients with suggestions it feels are best for their circumstances, but ultimately must let their clients make the investment decisions.

As you launch your relationship with your new investment advisor, bear in mind that you are ultimately responsible for your money. It is your responsibility to protect it and make it work for you. In addition to researching the advisor, be sure to find out if any investment funds they may offer you are registered with the Commission. Be sure that you fully understand all products you are considering before investing in them.
Sometimes, a simple phone call to the Commission or a visit to our website can help you to avoid becoming the victim of an investment fraud.

Selecting an Advisor

The obligation of an investment advisor is to offer the best financial advice for his or her particular client. To do this, it is the financial professional’s job to thoroughly understand his or her client’s goals, financial circumstances and risk appetite, as well as to investigate industries and companies and provide that information to the client.
Before you select your advisor, be sure to ask certain questions. Don’t be afraid to ask every question you seek an answer to. You have a right to know you are in careful, capable and licensed hands.

Among the questions you should ask are:

  • What education and professional experience do you have? How long have you been in business?
  • Describe your typical client. Can you provide me with the names of at least two references, preferably clients who can speak to your service?
  • How do you get paid? By the number of transactions or a commission or salary?
  • How would you describe your investment philosophy?
  • How often will you monitor my investments (my portfolio)?
  • How much will it cost me in total to do business with you?
  • Are you on the board of directors of any of the publicly-traded companies I am considering investing in?
  • How often will you be in touch with me? Every transaction? Every month, quarter?

Now that you have a list of questions to ask your investment advisor about himself or herself, here are a few questions to ask to help you ensure you understand the product he or she is advising you on:

  • How will the investment make money?
  • What must happen for the investment to increase in value?
  • What are the risks involved?
  • How does the product work?
  • Where can I get more information?
Be wary of promises of quick profits, offers to share “inside information,” pressure to invest before you have an opportunity to investigate, and offers which sound “too good to be true”. These are all warning signs of fraud! Be sure that you investigate and research before you make any transaction and avoid making rushed decisions.

Check out the Commission’s “Tips to Avoid Frauds and Scams” booklet at http://www.scb.gov.bs to learn more.