Tracking Your Investments

Whether you work with an investment professional or trade on your own, you should always monitor your investments. Keeping track of them can help prevent minor mistakes from turning into big problems. Take these steps to make sure you're on top of your investments:

  • If you don't get account statements or confirmations, follow up. You have a right to this information. If you're not receiving these documents, let your investment professional know.
  • Read and keep all account documents. Check to make sure that confirmations and account statements you receive from your broker, mutual fund or investment adviser are accurate. And be sure to store them in a safe place. You'll need them later for tax and other purposes.
  • Ask questions if you don't understand something. If investments you didn't authorize appear on your confirmations or account statements, contact your broker or adviser at once. Don't wait to see how the investments perform.
  • Keep good notes when you talk to your broker or adviser. Creating a record of your conversation will help if a problem arises in the future.
  • Make sure all confirmations and account statements are sent directly to you. If you can't look after your own investments, have these documents sent to someone you trust, like a family member, lawyer or accountant.
  • Even if you don't trade online, consider getting online access to your account. With online access, you can conveniently review your account whenever you want to look at past and current account activity.
  • Don't make checks or other payments payable to your broker, adviser or another individual for an investment. In most cases, you should only send money directly to your brokerage firm, its clearing firm or another financial institution. This will help you keep track of the funds you've deposited in your account and avoid the potential for fraud.
  • Review your portfolio on a regular basis. Make sure the securities in your account still meet your investment objectives. You should also understand and be comfortable with the risks, costs and liquidity of your investments. In short, know what you own.

It's a good idea to meet with your investment professional and visit the firm, if possible. And, remember to conduct independent research on your investments. You can get company information on the SEC's EDGAR database. If a problem arises and you can't resolve it with your broker or adviser, talk to the firm's management or compliance department. If that doesn't work, you can submit a complaint to FINRA.