What you don’t know about your financial advisor can destroy your dreams of a comfortable, secure retirement.  Secrets are the information that Wall Street does not want you to know. If you had this information you would not buy what Wall Street representatives want to sell you.

Wall Street spends millions of dollars per year fighting regulations that would require it to disclose its secrets to you. Wall Street lobbyists own the politicians who control regulations that govern the industry’s business practices. That is why there are no mandatory disclosure requirements for financial advisors.

What is the bottom-line? It is your responsibility to ask advisors the right questions. If you do not ask the right questions they are not obligated to volunteer information that may cause you to reject their sales recommendations. This self-serving business practice makes any withheld information (secrets) your fault.

Following are five types of information that advisors withhold from you. The lower the quality of the advisor the bigger the secrets and the greater their impact on you. It pays to know the secrets exist.

Secret #1 – Real Advisors

Every advisor claims to be a real financial expert. That is not even close to the truth. What is the secret? 75% of advisors are really salesmen who are paid commissions to sell Wall Street’s products. There is no regulation that requires salesmen to disclose their real role to you. They can claim to be real financial planners or advisors with impunity.

Secret #2 – Real Experts

Salesmen claim to be investment experts and there is no regulation that requires them to disclose their sources of knowledge to you. For example, they do not have to disclose college degrees, years of experience, or certifications (CFA®, CFP®, CIMA®). What is the big secret? There are no education requirements, not even a high school diploma, or experience requirements to sell Wall Street’s investment products. But, that does not mean inexperienced reps do not claim to be investment experts. It helps them sell investment products.

Secret #3 – Trusted Advisor

You want a financial expert, but you also want someone you can trust. Unfortunately, every advisor is going to claim to be a trustworthy professional. Like expertise, it is your responsibility to determine if the financial advisor is telling you the truth.

The good news is there is a reliable, online source that provides information about advisers’ records of compliance. Go to FINRA.org and click on the BrokerCheck function. The bad news is very few investors know about this service and the information can be complicated.

Compliance records are important, but they do not provide the whole picture. The advisor may not have any complaints on his FINRA record, but you still do not know if the advisor is providing ethical advice. What is the secret? You don’t know if the advisor’s investment recommendations are in your best interests.

Secret #4 – Expenses

Wall Street would like to extract as much money from your assets as possible. It has a lot of overhead and its executives like big bonuses. Part of its strategy is to withhold expense data from you or make the data so complicated you do not understand it.

For example, there are layers and layers of fees. The four primary fees include: Planning fees, advisory fees, management fees, and custodial fees. These fees do not include transaction charges, commissions, marketing fees, and administration fees. What is the secret? Advisers withhold the combined expenses that are deducted from your assets.

There is another reason for keeping this information a secret. Your advisor does not want you to know how much he makes from your assets. You probably don’t care what he makes if you are earning double-digit returns. You probably care a lot if your returns are flat or negative.

Secret #5 – Conflicts of Interest

There is one primary reason why 90% of advisors have conflicts of interest that have the potential to damage you. You need assets to achieve your financial goals – for example, a comfortable, secure retirement. Your advisor needs your assets to maximize company revenue and personal income. There is no way around this core conflict. You and your advisor have conflicting interests.

Why keep conflicts a secret? You and your advisor can win in bull markets. There is only one winner in flat or bear markets and its not you.