Here are three key questions you should ask and three tools to help you find information you may need at key points in your life.

How much do you really know about investing?

Make sure you have a good understanding of the basics of investing. Topics like knowing your risk profile, which products are insured, and how changes in interest rates can impact your financial situation can be critical.

One way to find out how much you know is to test your investment knowledge. The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) recently developed an investor knowledge quiz that covers a range of topics including interest rates, stocks, and bonds, and is designed to test how much you understand about the basics of investing.

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Remember, even if you score well on this test or any other test, it is important that you continue to educate yourself and be an informed investor.

How do you know if your advisor has the right skills to meet your investment needs?

Look beyond the letters that follow an individual’s name or business title. The number of financial certifications in use can be overwhelming and it can be difficult to know what a certification means, and the skills and services an individual can provide.

“It is important  that you continue to educate yourself and be an informed investor.”

The standards for achieving certifications can be diverse. Some may be obtained relatively easily, while others may include rigorous exams and continuing education.

If someone uses a certain certification or states that he/she has special expertise, ask questions and find out what these credentials really mean.

To help sort through the various financial certifications commonly used in Canada, you can use IIROC’s Glossary of Financial Certifications. In one location, you can learn about and compare what the various certifications mean and what an individual did to achieve them.

How much do you know about your advisor’s background, qualifications and history?

If you are a retail investor who is purchasing stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or ETFs, the person selling and advising you must be registered in the province or territory where you live.

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Checking an advisor’s registration status is one way to protect yourself as an investor, since regulators will only register individuals who are qualified.

Those registered with IIROC will be searchable in the online IIROC AdvisorReport, where you can learn more about their educational qualifications, employment history and whether they have been disciplined.

Make sure to ask questions and do your research when choosing or using an advisor.