Are Your Investments Ready for the New Year? FINRA Offers 6 Tips for 2016
WASHINGTON – The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) wants investors to start 2016 on the right financial foot and is offering several suggestions to help investors step back and take stock – literally and figuratively – of their investment portfolios.
“The dawn of a new year is an ideal time to assess your progress toward your investment goals, and make adjustments as needed,” said Gerri Walsh, FINRA’s Senior Vice President of Investor Education. “What has worked in the past is not always what’s best for today and the future, particularly as the interest-rate environment is changing. Whether you are an experienced investor or just starting, it’s a smart New Year’s resolution to periodically review your finances.”
FINRA’s suggestions focus on planning, staying abreast of changes in the market and their impact on your portfolio, and protecting your investments:
- If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. Are your goals current, or have they changed? Setting clear, prioritized goals – each with steps to achieve the goal, a price tag and a time frame – will help guide your investment approach.
- Focus on your financial security. Take advantage of day-to-day opportunities to help build your finances for the long term, such as benefiting from tax breaks for college savings or retirement; paying your credit-card debt on time and in full; and setting aside some funds for the unexpected.
- Understand the impact of higher interest rates. Yes, the Fed raised the federal funds rate and might do so again, but that alone might not change your investment strategy. There are several factors to keep in mind as you consider what action, if any, you need to take regarding rates.
- Track and rebalance your investments. Whether you work with a broker or adviser, or you trade on your own, you should always monitor your investments to prevent minor mistakes from turning into big problems. In particular, evaluate whether it’s time to rebalance your portfolio in view of your current goals and the changing investment environment.
- Know your investment professional. Understand what the different types of investment professionals offer to help you achieve your goals. Whether you’re looking for a new broker or investment adviser or just want to re-check the credentials of your current financial pro you can use BrokerCheck to obtain registration, disciplinary history and more on brokers, investment advisers and the firms that employ them.
- Protect your money. Fraud is a growing threat, but can be avoided. Know the basic techniques of scammers and strategies to deal with them, such as how to end the conversation or ask questions and turn the tables on fraudsters.
And here’s a bonus tip: Be sure to check your retirement safety net. Starting in 2016, new rules close loopholes that allowed married, two-income retirees to use certain strategies to increase the amount they collect from Social Security. Find out more about saving for retirement at FINRA.org.
Investors can obtain more information about, and the disciplinary record of, any FINRA-registered broker or brokerage firm by using FINRA's BrokerCheck. FINRA makes BrokerCheck available at no charge. In 2014, members of the public used this service to conduct 18.9 million reviews of broker or firm records. Investors can access BrokerCheck at www.finra.org/brokercheck or by calling (800) 289-9999. Investors may find copies of this disciplinary action as well as other disciplinary documents in FINRA's Disciplinary Actions Online database. Investors can also call FINRA's Securities Helpline for Seniors at (844) 57-HELPS for assistance or to raise concerns about issues they have with their brokerage accounts and investments.
FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services. FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business – from registering and educating all industry participants to examining securities firms, writing rules, enforcing those rules and the federal securities laws, and informing and educating the investing public. In addition, FINRA provides surveillance and other regulatory services for equities and options markets, as well as trade reporting and other industry utilities. FINRA also administers the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and firms. For more information, please visit www.finra.org.