Information on anything and everything is available at our fingertips. In this age of information technology, we investors are blessed to access and gain knowledge about various mutual fund schemes, their returns, etc. And all this information can be accessed for free.
It is no different for those providing financial services, too. There would be a host of emails, messages, and websites hogging to provide information.
1. Qualification of the Mutual Fund Distributor
The Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) makes it necessary that the individuals engaged in service of mutual fund advisory to have a certification issued by the National Institute of Securities Management (NISM).
But merely relying on the certification isn’t enough as you would need to search a bit more into the philosophy (attitude and rationalization) and research process which the mutual fund distributor and his team adopt while advising clients. Moreover, you need to make sure that the distributor is not an individual who peddles investments as side-business. Remember, acting on the advice offered by a mutual fund distributor who doesn’t hold the requisite knowledge, could spell disaster for your money and investments.
2. Expertise of the Mutual Fund Distributor
Check for the expertise of the mutual fund distributor and his team. Check how well qualified they are in terms of education and what kind of knowledge and experience they possess.
Also, look into whether the distributor has good knowledge of the whole variety of asset classes. Such as equity, debt, fixed income, gold, etc.
The mutual fund distributor you choose must be easily contactable. Whether by email, phone, or by meeting in person within a reasonable duration. It is important that the distributor, whom you have entrusted your money with, is accessible as and when you need him. The distributor or team should be able to clarify your doubts within a reasonable period.
4. Provide Complete Financial Solutions
We Indians do not like discussing our finances or financial status with all and sundry. Because we have been taught not to reveal our finances and investments with too many people. We have been taught to keep such things and details, confidential and under wraps.
5. Is the Distributor Asking Questions?
This is the one attribute that will tell you whether a mutual fund distributor is interested in only selling or is he/she really interested in understanding your requirements and needs. And then take the investment forward, accordingly.
Is he/she asking you questions to know better your financial needs, situations and goals? Or are you only being given details about the products to convince you to buy a product and not the solution which you actually are looking out for?
6. Infrastructure and Value Added Services
Apart from assessing his qualifications and attitude towards clients, you also need to judge whether he has the right infrastructure set up. Would you be able to receive prudent advice continuously? Remember entering an investment is only a beginning. You want your investments to be monitored and tracked regularly. Change must be advised promptly if an investment has become redundant or non-performer.
7. What kind of After-Sales Support is Provided?
As stated earlier that entering into an investment is simply a starting point. Only with the help of a prudent and reliable after-sale support, we would be able to monitor, track and further our investment portfolio. All the tracking tools may not be so easily understandable by every investor.
8. Past Track Record
Well, if you are offered this, you would be able to gauge the quality of the advice. You need to cross-check the data provided by him/her with some of his clients as a reference check. The best way is to ask around for referrals.
Use social media, to know if anyone has recommended the advisor or his firm. Check online for any referrals, ask your friends or relatives, if they know of any references. What kind of knowledge and experience is associated? This way you can have an idea about his/her strengths and weaknesses.
A mutual fund distributor is in this business to earn. Whether it is an individual, partnership or a company, it wouldn’t be able to survive for long if it doesn’t get compensated.
Maintaining a website, helping you make a financial plan, gathering data on your behalf, keeping it free for you, and keeping all these services alive requires effort and money.
Many financial planners and advisors could charge a fee for the same. To write out a comprehensive financial plan, taking into account risk appetite, future requirements, and life goals. You are asked to pay them a fee, regularly. It is just that they don’t tell you about is that they get a commission, as well, on all the investments they make on your behalf.