after day, week after week, month after month, the
headlines keep screaming the same sad tales.
theft, fraud, investor scams. It all happens far too
first line of defense when you’re investing money? It
starts with the person in the mirror. Every investor
needs to be doing their due diligence, financial
advisors say. If you’re going to be investing your
money with a financial planner, you better know
everything you possibly can about that person and his
sure there are no red flags," said Plantation,
Fla., financial planner Ben Tobias. He recommends doing
thorough research and also asking questions about what’s
in it for the planner when he or she is recommending
investments. Many may be more interested in their
commissions and personal earnings than they are about
their clients’ portfolio performances.
in writing the dollar amount of that compensation,"
said Tobias, who has served on a national board
reviewing complaints against financial planners.
"If someone is getting paid to give you advice,
shouldn’t you know how much that person is getting
paid and where their loyalties lie?"
financial advisers may be tempted by high commissions to
recommend an investment that may not be as financially
sound as others — and not be the best for a client,
now-disbarred Florida adviser, Jeffrey Rubin, encouraged
31 NFL players to invest in a now-bankrupt Alabama
casino where he was getting paid $500,000 and a 4
percent ownership stake, according to the Financial
Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, the largest
independent securities regulator in the United States.
football players ended up losing some $40 million,
regulators found. Several players have now filed
lawsuits, some in Broward Circuit Court.
avoid a similar financial meltdown, investors should
first check the advisor’s background before parting
with any money, Tobias said.
fact, investors should check on any broker or financial
adviser before they take their friends’ or colleagues’
advice to invest with the person, said Pembroke Pines,
Fla., financial adviser Eric Pettus.
scammers rely on others recommending them — such as
convicted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, who met many
investors at the Palm Beach (Fla.) Country Club. Rubin,
who operated Pro Sports Financial in Fort Lauderdale,
Fla., handled the finances of mostly professional
football players, some of whom attended the University
of Florida in the 1990s when he did.
can go to FINRA.org and click on "BrokerCheck"
to see if any complaints have been filed against a
broker or financial adviser.
for example, had several complaints — one as early as
2004, according to FINRA records. Investors complained
of faked signatures, negligence and misrepresentation,
the records show. He also was accused of recommending
unsuitable, high-risk and speculative investments.
Earlier this month, Rubin voluntarily agreed to give up
his broker’s license without admitting guilt.
could not be reached for comment for this report. His
West Palm Beach, Fla., attorney, Patricia Christiansen,
said earlier she would not have any comment about his