Tuesday 8 March 2016 9:35 am

Why you can't trust your financial adviser: Seven per cent of US FAs have misconduct records

Financial advice is a mixed bag. Taking it might save an individual money in the long run, and yet some financial advisers push products for their own personal gain (i.e. generous commission payments) rather than the a customer's best interests.

Research by economists Mark Egan, Gregor Matvos and Amit Seru paints a sobering picture of the industry over in the US. 

They found that around seven per cent of financial advisers in the US have misconduct records. Meanwhile, prior offenders are five times as likely to engage in new misconduct, compared to the average financial adviser.

That's not to say wayward advisers don't suffer penalties. They're likely to remain unemployed for longer, move to less reputable firms, and accept a 10 per cent wage cut.

And yet, somewhat surprisingly, 44 per cent of those who lost their jobs found employment in the industry within a year.

The researchers built a database of financial advisers (about 1.2m) registered in the US from 2005 to 2015, representing about 10 per cent of employment in the wider finance and insurance sector. 

It included all customer disputes, disciplinary events, and financial matters from advisers' disclosure statements during that period. The disciplinary events include civil, criminal, and regulatory events, and disclosed investigations.