Licensing. Choose someone that is licensed with all the required licensing agencies. If they need SEC or state licensing to do their job, make sure they have it. Don’t be afraid to ask. And always double check that their license is current. Also, make sure they have insurance. If you want to really make sure they are who they say they are and they have the proper credentials, you can always call me because we check these things for people all the time. If you are planning a large investment, it is definitely worth the time.
As part of our series about what one should look for when hiring a financial planner or adviser, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andy Kay.
One of the best in the Private Investigating business for over 29 years, Andy Kay is known for his versatile skills, keen instincts, and innovative thinking in each complicated case presented to him. He has solidified himself as one of the most notable and successful investigators in the industry.
Kay’s life experience has given him the ability to use his expansive knowledge base to get the best results possible every time. He has worked for numerous state and federal task forces and agencies, foreign corporations and governments from South/Central America to the Middle East and Europe, for small businesses and Fortune 500 companies, and has become a top specialist in construction law and investigations. Having studied criminal justice, political science, law, and engineering, Andy acquired his pilot’s license, followed by his PI license in 1992. He also has his general engineering and general building contractor licenses. Kay often serves as an expert witness, strengthening his credibility as the best in the business.
Along with out-of-the-box cases, Kay works with a variety of claims, not limited to; child custody, infidelity, locating asset and verification, construction, fraud, criminal defense, insurance, cyber security, stalking, celebrity security, international surveillance, background checks, and missing persons.
“Every case is absolutely different, so there is no standard approach. That’s part of what I love so much about my work; the diversity of the challenges”, says Kay. His success in all cases starts with his commitment to the business. Possessing a knack for creative thinking, Kay’s methods of developing evidence in cases are what makes him so successful.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I got recruited out of college into the Attorney General’s Office. From there I spent six years working undercover. Then my supervisor at that agency went to work for a private company’s internal security and he recommended me to go there, so I went. My boss from there was a retired FBI agent and when he retired from that job, he started his own private investigations company and offered me a job with him. After a short time, I started my own company.
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting in the industry? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?
There was this one time when we were on a case and had to follow a female subject. This guy who hired us was sure his wife was doing things she should not have been doing. Obviously, this was an infidelity case. So, we set up outside the house, and when she left the house we followed her and took photos, videos, got all sorts of evidence that she was with some guy. When we went back to the client with the photos and videos, he said, “no, that’s my sister-in-law.” I mean, he could have told us that she lives with them and that she looks a lot like her sister.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are always working on new projects. At the moment, we are helping people avoid fraudulent practices by partnering with the BBB on a blog series all about cons, frauds, and scams. This especially has to do with the financial sector. Often times, people don’t know how to properly research or choose businesses, vendors, or lenders to work with, and that can be tragic for the consumer/customers.
Another thing we are working on is future legislation and referendums regarding criminal justice reform that is nationwide. We deal with so many post-conviction investigations and it’s such a long process, that even after we are able to prove something, it literally takes years to get it to any kind of forum to get justice for our clients. We are also moving forward to change current laws so that non-violent offenders are not strapped with a moniker for their entire life for a mistake they made 20 years ago — that should not define who you are now. I am very passionate about criminal justice reform.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?
There have been several tipping points. My success is part of leading a team. There have been many times where my company has expanded into different specializations because of a case that we took and excelled on and became known for it. You have to be constantly learning and bringing in people that are experts in their specific skillset and have years of experience in that specific area.
What three pieces of advice would you give to your colleagues in the finance field to thrive and avoid burnout? Can you give a story or example?
*Not applicable to me*
Ok. Thank you for all of that. Let’s now move to the core focus of our interview. As a “finance insider,” you know much more about the finance industry than most consumers. If your loved one wanted to hire a financial advisor (not you :-)), which 5 things would you advise them to find out about before committing? Can you give an example or story for each?
1. Licensing. Choose someone that is licensed with all the required licensing agencies. If they need SEC or state licensing to do their job, make sure they have it. Don’t be afraid to ask. And always double check that their license is current. Also, make sure they have insurance. If you want to really make sure they are who they say they are and they have the proper credentials, you can always call me because we check these things for people all the time. If you are planning a large investment, it is definitely worth the time.
2. Complaints. Check with their licensing boards and agencies to see if they have any complaints. Check with the BBB and other online review platforms. It’s so important to see what other people say about a business/consultant.
3. Years of experience. It is impossible to stay in business if you are consistently doing a bad job. People who have been in business for a long time are going to be more reputable — or at least have a reputation that you can know of and learn about online and through reviews/complaints.
4. Clean history. How many times have they been sued for things related to their job and services they provide? If he has been sued many times for issues related to the services he provides, then beware. Obviously. But if he has law suits from car accidents, dog bites, or divorce, don’t consider those. Basically, if his clients are suing him, don’t use him.
5. References. You need to see real people that the advisor has successfully helped. You will want to see numbers and actual gains for their clients. Whatever your goals are, make sure that they have been able to provide those for other clients.
I think most people think that financial advisors are for very wealthy people. This is not actually true. Can you explain who would most benefit from hiring a financial advisor and why? Can you give an example?
It depends on the financial advisor. Anytime you want to make an investment, for a home for example, they need to know “is this the right thing to do right now?” If you have less money, it is more important to have an expert handling it so that your decision is not too big of a risk of losing money you don’t have lots of to begin with.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
When I left my career in law enforcement I worked for a private company in their internal security. My immediate supervisor there was an ex-FBI agent and when he retired he offered me a job with him in investigations. That brought me into the private investigations sector. I was lucky enough to work with someone who knew the difference between law enforcement and private investigations and the unique differences that make you good at both. He is now a Senator and I still appreciate his input and everything he taught me.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It would be what we are pursuing with our involvement in criminal justice reform.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
We are very involved in the social media world. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium…we love to connect with people around the world about investigations and getting answers in convoluted situations.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
Thank you for the opportunity. It’s my pleasure to be able to give people insight and answers to things that can help improve their lives and their families’ safety.