1. Bad players seem to always find a way to work around rules. It is important for consumers to do research, by looking up the financial professional’s background on Finra’s BrokerCheck, for instance. This website includes such information as advisors’ education, business activities and any disciplinary action taken against them.

2. Potential clients should also understand an advisor’s designations. An insurance broker is different from a financial services professional and different from a certified financial planner or an investment advisory representative. If an advisor has only an insurance license, he or she should not provide investment planning or claim to be selling the consumer an investment.

3. Clients should also check the advisor’s education. Much like physicians, advisors can obtain many designations to enhance their expertise.

If an advisor and client can clearly understand the client’s main objectives, they can find a product that suits the client’s needs. Every product is distinctive and should be scrutinized against a client’s goals.

When a financial professional offers a product, the most important questions are:

1. What are the benefits of owning this?

2. What are the risks of owning this—the downside?

3. Are there any guarantees? Are they limited in any way?

4. What am I getting in return for the fees I pay?

Some clients with singular needs such as basic investments may find robo-advisors suitable. Just as carmakers are getting out ahead of disruptive change in the auto industry, advisors who wish to survive in the new financial marketplace must adapt to the clients’ exacting needs.