Market interactions become easier if you have knowledgeable bond brokers. Good bond brokers will be explicitly trained in the bond markets. A broker specifically educated in bonds can pass on substantial amounts of useful knowledge a general broker will not know. They should quite literally be able to train you in their specific area of capability. You should not rely on them for advice outside of their specialization. They are your bond broker only for bonds. They should also be willing to educate you on any issue regardless of direct purchasing. They should be useful for you as an investor, and not simply as a provider of investments. Even if you are buying bonds elsewhere your broker should still be willing and able to assist purchasing decisions.
Licenses & Certifications
You should immediately ask if your bond broker or financial provider is licensed. Ensure that your broker has the following licenses, if they are American brokers. A FINRA Series 7 license allows a broker sell the vast majority of securities, including bonds, with the exception of commodities futures. A Series 63 NASAA License is required by each state in the USA, any broker with a Series 7 must also have a Series 63. A Series 65 License is absolutely necessary for anyone charging for financial advice or services without charging commissions. If you chose to use an advisor or financial planner, this license applies. If they have a Series 66 license, this combines the series 63 and series 65 into a single test. Finally, if you are using a Financial Planner, ensure that they are registered with the Certified Financial Planner (CFP license) and National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (shortened to NAPFA). You should also note that NAPFA advisors are a great source of fee only investment consultation.
A poor broker well attempt to simply sell you financial investments. A horrible broker will attempt to manipulate you for profits. Both categories will not educate you in the least unless it profits them. The worst kinds of brokers will directly attempt to churn you into investments, while collecting income from your commissions. Beware of brokers managing your accounts that move you in and out of investments often. Brokers who sell you financial products unnecessarily are churning you for commissions. You should always locate brokers, financial planners, or agents who have payment structures that do not conflict with your financial interests. Flat rates and hourly fees may be better for your financial health than fees or commissions. Compare your cost structure with your objectives and avoid unnecessary commissions whenever possible. If your broker or agent purchases bonds in large quantities, discount prices usually occur as a result. Always ask your financial provider if they buy bonds in wholesale or retail prices. This difference can save you cash.
Remember that your cost structure should be measured in time. It should not cost you large amounts of future interest to engage in trading. The larger the investment’s cost, the more interest you lose. Interest is delivered over time, and each reduction from fees results in more time the investment must be held to generate solid returns. Don’t waste return in fees when you are already putting up all of the capital and taking all of the risk.
Going It Alone
If you would rather go it alone, be aware that you lose out on potential information a broker could provide. Be very prepared to study the market yourself, excessively if necessary. While on this path you will need a brokerage for trading investments at a minimum. You can easily fill this role using online brokers. While these brokers are generally cheaper, you should still compare fees to be sure. If you are buying treasury bonds, you won’t need any assistance if you can purchase them directly from the treasury or government representing your nation. Check the treasury responsible for issuing bonds before buying them from the secondary market or via a broker.
Spreads (the price between ask and bid price) will still exist with any financial broker, advisor, planner, or provider. You can use the Trace system to determine if the pricing is fair or poor for certain bonds. You should note that you cannot always use Trace or CUSIP numbers with all bonds for pricing updates. If a broker or financial provider is attempting to purchase your bonds check the trace pricing before selling.
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