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AFTER BONNIE Kirchner learned that her husband, financial adviser Brad Bleidt, stole more than $30 million from clients in a Ponzi scheme, she wrote a book to keep others from being scammed. (He's now her ex and he's in jail.) Kirchner, author of Who Can You Trust With Your Money?, offers these tips:

Get referrals. Ask people you trust about their advisers, and check their backgrounds. Go online and use BrokerCheck at no cost ( and the SEC's Investment Adviser website (

Interview up to three. Ask about advisers' clients and rule out those whose clients have income, assets or problems far different from yours. Don't be snowed by titles like “senior specialist.” “A lot of these are meaningless,” Kirchner says.

Ask about their pay. Some financial advisers work for commissions. Others charge hourly fees (typically $150 to $400) or a percentage of the assets you invest. Putting together a financial plan may cost you $1,000 to $5,000.

— Richard Eisenberg

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