The saddest part about the 158 clients that Earl Jones defrauded out of $50 million, many of whom crowded into a Montreal courtroom Monday to hear him sentenced to 11 years in prison? It didn’t have to happen.

Jones held himself out as a legitimate financial advisor. But if his clients had checked to see if he was registered to provide the services he pretended to provide, they would have seen that he was not. Not finding Jones among the tens of thousands of registered investment advisors in Canada is the red flag that could have kept people from trusting him with their money.

Checking advisor registration is the first step to take when you start thinking about trusting someone with your investments. Even if you’re already working with an advisor, you owe it to yourself to check his or her registration. It’s easy to do using the new CSA National Registration Search. And what you learn by checking will make you a more involved and informed investor. This is especially true if you combine your registration search with other kinds of background checks, like looking up an advisor’s disciplinary history and searching his or her name on the internet.

Working with a registered advisor is the only way to ensure that the laws governing advisor conduct can protect you, if you need them. Always take the time to check out an investment and the person selling it before you invest. Follow them and you could save yourself from being taken by the likes of Earl Jones.

To read previous posts on this and other topics, click on Let’s talk about investing.

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