P.O. Box 1750, Cockysville, MD, 21030
Print PDF version
410-337-9755 Website

10 Questions to Ask a Potential Financial Advisor

Bookmark and Share Your small business financial advisor assists you in maintaining a profitable business. This relationship only works, though, if you hire someone who is competent, trustworthy and likeable. Ask these 10 questions as you interview potential financial advisors.
  1. What are your qualifications?
    The right financial advisor will be educated and financially literate. Ask to see degrees and other qualifications that prove the financial advisor is capable of assisting you.

  2. Are you certified?
    Anyone can learn financial lingo. Be sure the financial advisor you hire is also certified to do the job, and ask to see the certification and any other credentials.

  3. Are you insured?
    Be sure the financial advisors you interview are currently licensed to offer financial advice. That license proves the financial advisor is in good standing in his or her field and provides liability protection.

  4. How often do you attend trainings?
    Two plus two will always equal four, but other details in the financial world change. Be sure financial advisors you interview attend trainings regularly to stay updated on trends.

  5. Do you have a contract?
    A handshake is not good enough in the business world. You and your financial advisor will need to sign a contract that outlines responsibilities, payment and other details of your relationship.

  6. How are you compensated?
    A financial advisor will be paid whether or not your business makes a profit. Find out upfront what the fees are and when payment is expected.

  7. How often are you willing to connect with me?
    You may not need to speak with your financial advisor every day, but you do need to communicate regularly. Find out how often the financial advisor is willing to meet with you and if he or she will answer email and phone calls promptly.

  8. What's the plan if something happens to you?
    If your financial advisor retires or is otherwise incapacitated, you want to know that your account is secure. Find out if there's someone else available for you to contact if this were to happen.

  9. Do you have a list of referrals?
    Always talk to others small business owners about potential financial advisors. Ask what they like about him or her, how often they meet and any pros and cons. With this information, you can decide if the person is a good fit for you.

  10. May I bring a friend?
    Ask someone you trust to sit in on interviews. This person can give you a second opinion and valuable insight that helps you make the best decision for your business.
Hiring a financial advisor is important for your small business's success. Ask these 10 questions as you choose the right advisor for you.

7 Reasons to Have a Small Business Employment Application

Bookmark and Share Hiring employees is a big step for your small business. Because you're not a large corporation, you may think you can skip the employment application. Actually, there are seven important reasons to have an application for your business.
  1. Create an Unbiased Hiring Process
    Every job applicant will answer the same questions on the employment application. Its uniform format reduces bias during the hiring process and allows you to compare candidates impartially.

  2. Rule Out Wrong Candidates
    Instead of interviewing every candidate who applies, use the employment application to filter out the obvious wrong candidates. They may be the ones without the proper training or experience for the position or ones who were fired for insubordination or have a criminal record.

  3. Eliminate Untruthful Candidates
    It's easy for job applicants to lie on a resume but not as easy to lie on an employment application.  It requires applicants to sign an agreement stating that all information in the application is true and that if they fail to tell the truth or omit relevant information, they could be immediately dismissed.

  4. Get Permission to Verify Information
    Your employment application should have a space where applicants sign their name and allow you to verify the accuracy of all information, including employment history and education. Candidates should also be required to agree to background and criminal checks as well as credit and driving checks if those are requirements for the position.

  5. Streamline the Hiring Process
    Interviewing every single applicant requires hours of time and wastes valuable resources. Read employment applications and scan for specific keywords, degrees and other specifics that help you identify qualified candidates. Your streamlined hiring process saves time and money. Plus, its efficiency reduces stress and frees you from unnecessary administrative duties.

  6. Remain Legally Compliant
    You don't want to break legal rules and ask questions on the application or in the interview that are not allowed. Set the tone with your employment application. It should not include invasive questions or ask about protected statuses such as age, race or religious view.

  7. Prepare for Interviews
    When you conduct interviews, you need to know a little bit about the applicants. This way, you are prepared during interviews to ask relevant questions. The employment application gives you clues about a candidate's work history, career goals and personal values and helps you prepare for interviews.
Whether you provide a printed or online employment application, it's an important part of your small business's hiring process. After you create an application, ask your attorney to review it. You're then ready to hire the right employees for your small business.

Why You Need to Update Your Browser

Bookmark and Share Do you have a favorite browser? If so, it's probably because the browser is familiar to you and easy to use. Unfortunately, if your browser is out-of-date, your company is at risk since outdated browsers can include bugs, security flaws and other challenges. Consider updating your browser and improving security for your small business.

Close Security Holes

Manufacturers usually prioritize security holes and release updates that patch those challenges first. If you're using an older browser, though, your computer could be vulnerable to malware, password theft and viruses, and your browser remains vulnerable to cyber criminals who look for easy targets. As an example, Microsoft does not support versions older than Internet Explorer 11.

Check with your browser's manufacturer to see if security hole updates are available. If not, consider switching to a different browser.

Give Customers a More Consistent Browsing Experience  

Modern customers use their smartphones to research your products, prices and reviews. If you use an older browser to design your website, it might look good to you but may not be compatible with the latest digital formats your customers are using.

Update your browser to ensure your website works properly for all users. Not only does an update create a consistent browsing experience for your customers, but it also potentially increases sales.

Improve the Internet

Every year, new web browsing features, tools and extensions are released by browser companies. Use an old browser, and you can't take advantage of the new features. One example is a keychain tool that stores login information and secures your passwords. An old browser may also include bugs and other issues.

Upgrade to enjoy use-friendly improvements and a better internet experience. The updated browser also improves security for your small business.

Update Options

If you decide to update your browser, take one of three steps.
  1. Update to the same generation. For example, if you have Firefox 46, upgrade to 46.0.1. This update is safe and reliable and includes a low learning curve since you're already familiar with the browser.

  2. Update to a newer generation. Go from Firefox 46 to 47 for a safe and reliable upgrade. The website pages on websites will look better and be easier to use, too.

  3. Update to another browser. Switch from Firefox to Internet Explorer for a completely different experience. Even though you'll spend a few hours familiarizing yourself to the new browser and its features and nuances, you also receive multiple benefits.
Your small business can maintain security and stay relevant when you upgrade your browser. After you take this step, be sure to check regularly for updates. Discuss additional security measures with your insurance agent as you minimize your risks and protect your business.

Safety Benefits of Accepting Chip-Based Credit Cards

Bookmark and Share Credit cards are used by millions of consumers every day. Your small business probably accepts credit cards, too, to accept payments in-store or online. New chip-based cards or EMV-enabled cards - named for developers Europay, MasterCard and Visa - provide several safety benefits you should understand as you decide whether or not to switch to a chip reader.

Chip Cards are Difficult to Reproduce

Magnetic stripe credit cards are easy for thieves to copy. Chip-based cards are more difficult to reproduce.

There are two basic chip-based cards, chip and pin and RFID.

  1. Chip and Pin cards require two types of interaction before the merchant can accept the card as payment. The user must swipe the card and enter a PIN. Thieves typically cannot use the card unless they know the user's PIN.

  2. RFID cards use RFID radio technology to transmit data through the air. Consumers don't have to swipe the card or enter a pin. Unfortunately, this type of credit card is easy for thieves to read with an RFID reader. Users can protect their RFID card and prevent data loss with a protective covering or metal foil.
Shift in Responsibility for Fraudulent Charges

Because many new credit cards are chip-based, credit card companies like VISA and MasterCard want to encourage people to upgrade. Small businesses like yours will be liable for any fraudulent charges if you don't upgrade your credit card processing machine.

Additionally, thieves know that non-chip-based credit cards are easier to steal. If you're one of the last businesses on the block to upgrade, your business faces greater risk of theft.

Upgrade All Your Credit Card Readers

Depending on your business, you may accept payment only at an in-store machine. Your credit card processing company will assist you in selecting a new machine or you can buy the upgraded equipment as you reduce your risk and continue to serve your customers.

If you accept payment via phone or tablet, request a new EMV-capable reader for mobile devices. The new technology protects customer data and decreases your liability.

If you don't accept physical cards, your small business won't have to switch to a chip-reader. However, be prepared for more security threats since it's easier for thieves to steal credit card numbers when they're shared over the phone or on an ecommerce site. Consider boosting your online payment security to protect your customers and your business from threats.

Because chip-based credit cards are the new normal, it's in your best interest to upgrade your credit card payment processing machine today. Learn more about protecting your small business and decreasing your liability when you talk to your insurance agent.