How to pick an adviser you trust

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Customer satisfaction with investment management companies has climbed back up to about where it was in 2008, after plummeting in 2009 right after the economic meltdown, according to marketing information company J.D. Power, which released its annual investment management satisfaction survey Thursday.

Despite greater satisfaction in some areas, the customers of investment managers are still unhappy about some key issues. Customers are more critical of the service provided by the financial adviser with whom they deal directly. They are complaining more frequently about investment performance and fee levels, says David Lo, director of investment services at J.D. Power.

Lo says that investment managers are actually paying more attention to their clients than they did before the meltdown — advisers are contacting their clients more frequently.  But because investors are increasingly likely to be using social media to share their investment experiences, they are more critical of investment services than they used to be. “Investor expectations have increased,” Lo says.

Here are the top six adviser firms whose satisfaction scores bested the industry average. They are:

  1. Edward Jones.
  2. Fidelity Investments.
  3. Charles Schwab.
  4. LPL Financial.
  5. Raymond James.
  6. UBS Financial Services.

Picking the right investment adviser can be very important for anyone doing retirement planning. J.D. Power offers this advice for choosing someone reliable and trustworthy:

Interview more than one adviser candidate. Ask each adviser you interview the same basic questions. Eliminate the ones from the running who don’t give you understandable and transparent answers. Make sure you understand how your account will be managed and what the commissions and fees will be.

Pick an adviser who fits you. If you are an investor with a modest amount of retirement savings to invest, you probably won’t get very good service at a firm that specializes in people with more than $5 million in the kitty.

Seek a second opinion. Use websites to see what others are saying about the investment firms you’re considering.