She presented herself as a divorcee who had received a legal settlement and needed advice about investing, tax and estate planning, college savings, retirement and insurance (all true, by the way). She left out only that she would be writing about the experience. Of course, our field test was hardly scientific. But we found out that in their new roles, many brokers seemed just as confused as their customers. The good news: We picked up a lot of attractive graphs and pie charts, and a couple weeks’ worth of free coffee.
My, that’s comforting. Sadly, the article didn’t come to many helpful conclusions. No broker performed significantly better than any other, so you’ll just have to shop around for someone who seems like they know what they’re doing and then do some research about how they get paid and what their title means. SmartMoney did say that they got the most accurate advice from a “total jerk.” Hmm.—MEGHANN MARCO