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Investment management: How to climb mountains and achieve your financial dreams

Other important things you should consider when looking at a firm is its:

Track record How long has the company been operating and what is its reputation? This includes performance history; overall experience and credentials of its advisors; and, of course, a commitment to ethical business practices.

Accessibility " Can you reach your investment manager when you need to? Referrals can be a good source of accurate information about a firm's practices. Location is also important, because if your investment manager is local they are more likely to be accessible.

Management structure " Are there local decision makers? This is important because it demonstrates a commitment to not only a region but to understanding the unique circumstances of a firm's clientele within a specific region.

Research practices " Don't be afraid to ask a firm how it conducts, or obtains, research on the markets. Strong research tends to equal high-performing portfolios, and firms that conduct their own research often have greater accountability to both their clients and advisors.

MANAGE YOUR RISKS

AND KEEP YOUR OPTIONS OPEN

Just as important as where you want to go tomorrow is analyzing where you are today. Does your current strategy align with your current income levels and long-term plans? If not, then adjust your plan. This is where flexibility and customization becomes invaluable in your relationship with an investment management firm, because your plan should not be dictated by your age, marital status or income level but rather a plan that is shaped by your investment objectives, risk characteristics, pricing limitations and/or any other preferences you may have.

Another characteristic of control and customization is the range of financial products offered. Your investment management firm should be able to offer solutions with a wide range of asset classes, from money market accounts to bonds, real estate, foreign investments, and mid-cap and small-cap stocks that can target for growth, blend and value investment philosophies. This is important because asset perfor-mance can vary from year to year, making performance hard to predict.

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