In today’s very regulated financial marketplace, we as a Firm and as Investors need to be particularly diligent in making sure that Suitability is at the top of our priority list when we are making recommendations for investment products or choosing which investments to place our money in. Simply put, everything we do for our clients comes down to Suitability and what is right for their particular investment needs.
By one definition, Suitability means “the quality of having the properties that are right for a specific purpose”. With that definition in mind, how does one make sure that the products we introduce to our clients and the investment products we purchase have the “properties” that are consistent with the “specific purpose” of our brokerage accounts. The best thing that we as investment professionals and clients can do to ensure the suitability of an investment is to know all that we can know about the product we are investing in. As the investment professional, that means doing the due diligence on a product and learning all the features, benefits, and risks associated with that particular product. As the client, that means making sure that you understand what is being presented to you or what you have opted to purchase in your brokerage account. Ask questions!!! Just as an investment professional asks the client a multitude of questions that help them determine what products are suitable, the client needs to ask questions that test their understanding of the product as well. Both the Investment Professional and client need to have an ultimate goal in mind for the brokerage account, and that requires a partnership between the two. Investing one’s money can be a very emotional decision, thus ensuring Suitability should be of paramount concern to both Investment Professionals and clients.
There are many items to consider when investing, such as time horizons, anticipated liquidity needs, risk tolerance, investment experience, just to name a few. There are specific investment objectives to consider, such as Growth, Income, Speculation, Capital Preservation. After it is determined what the investment parameters are using some of the above mentioned items, it is then imperative that the product that is recommended or is ultimately chosen meets those parameters. As we all know, each investment product has unique characteristics that will or will not be compatible with a clients stated investment objectives. We all need to take part in educating ourselves and being a part of the investment selection process for our accounts.
As we move forward, let us all do our job in the Suitability process by educating ourselves, asking questions and forming lasting partnerships. If ever a client’s questions cannot be answered to their satisfaction, we have a wonderful staff of experienced professionals in our back office that are there to help get the answers you need to make wise investment decisions.