If there’s one message Jack Waymire wants to send to advisors, it would be that you're being watched.

The founder of Paladin Research and Registry, an independent information services company, announced Tuesday the launch of online tools and guides that will give investors access to pre-screened information about advisors nationally.

"The bottom-line is to protect investors from advisors who may not have their best interest,” says Waymire, who is also the author of the book "Who’s Watching your Money?", written as a response to the 2002 dot-com bubble. “We’re providing them the process to find out about the advisors they’re thinking of hiring – with a focus on certification, ethics, business practices, and services provided.”     

Paladin’s registry provides different tools and resources to investors, from an "Advisor Scorecard" that produces a quality rating for each professional, to "Check a Credential" service investors can use to identify fake credentials.

There’s also a questionnaire investors can send their advisors in case they aren’t sure of what questions to ask. Responses are then uploaded into the Advisor Scorecard, which gets moderated by an algorithm that eventually calculates an overall rating (Eg. 20 years of experience scores more than 2 years of experience).

The push for transparency seems to have aided many investors. In fact, up to 240 fake certifications have been exposed, according to Waymire. 

“The good guys will have absolutely no problem with this process, while the bad guys will hate it,” he says. “In the end, the investors win.”

While Paladin seems to benefit investors, advisors also share much of the pie.

Originally, Waymire developed Paladin as a means to match advisors with investors, but investors would only have access to those in the firm’s registry. With the launch of the website and its tools last month, the registry is now open to any advisor who is willing to be screened.

“A lot of visibility for advisors is through word of mouth,” says Waymire. “With the registry, we give them a unique URL that they can integrate to their marketing.”

Even so, some advisors prefer to keep to themselves for varying reasons. Some may be concerned by making their track record so transparent, while others don’t see the immediate appeal.

“I don’t know if it’s very helpful, because we advisors mostly get our clients through referrals,” says Claire Friedrichs, first vice president of investments at Raymond James. “Advisors’ clients tend to look very much like the advisor – they have the same likes and dislikes. When investors ask their friends about advisors, performance isn’t always the main concern. It’s more about trust and being able to communicate and connect.” 

But whether investors go through Paladin’s registry or referrals, the buzz on the street seems to be this:  The more transparent and trustworthy an advisor, the more likely they are to be hired, says Waymire.

For now, investors can access Paladin’s tools for free, but users may be charged a nominal fee in the future. The rationale, according to Waymire, is that by having users pay a nominal fee, the potential notion of Paladin being paid by the ads they feature is alleviated.

“If it’s free, how good can it really be?” he adds. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

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