The type of work DMMs handle for their clients is highly personal and confidential. Whereas your personal judgment and instincts are important in determining the honesty of any professional with whom you may do business, you can take additional steps to safeguard yourself against becoming involved with a dishonest person.
First, ask for a referral from someone you know and trust, such as a friend, relative, lawyer, accountant, or doctor. If none of these people can put you in touch with a DMM and you must hire a basically "unknown" person, be ready to address the following issues before hiring a DMM:
What is the scope of your work? (Do you only do bookkeeping, or are there other ways that you can be of assistance?)
Review the scope of the work before you agree to having the DMM start working for you. Many times this is accomplished at the initial meeting.
How long have you been working as a daily money manager?
What percentage of your clients are elderly? Busy professionals? Small businesses?
What are the ways in which you have assisted your clients?
What kinds of professional insurance do you have? Do you have Errors & Omissions insurance and, if so, how much? (If you want the DMM to act as a Power of Attorney or Executor you will also need to ask if they have Errors & Omissions insurance with additional Fiduciary coverage).
To what professional organizations do you belong?
Are there industry standards and code of ethics to which you adhere?
Make sure to ask to see the industry standards and codes of ethics. The American Association of Daily Money Managers is committed to promoting high standards of client services provided by members, and to supporting the growth of the daily money management industry, in numbers of providers, in recognition of the field, and in the quality of services provided. Members follow the principles found in the association's Standards of Practice and abide by the Code of Ethics.
Do you have any professional certification or designation? Are you certified as a Professional Daily Money Manager (PDMM)?
AADMM promotes excellence in services through a voluntary certification program that emphasizes both experience in the field and continuing education. Those who meet the requirements and pass the exam earn the designation of Professional Daily Money Manager (PDMM). Learn more.
Are you required to take continuing education courses to maintain the certification?
With what professionals in other fields do you collaborate regarding your clients’ issues?
Are you willing to involve another person in their work, such as a lawyer, accountant, or family member?
What are the costs of your services and what are the common billing methods?
(What are your fees? Do you charge hourly or by the project? Do you charge for travel?)
Some DMMs offer a free initial consultation -- ask in advance for their policy on first meeting charges. Most DMMs charge for their services on an hourly basis, with rates varying with geographic areas.
In addition to the hourly rates, most DMMs charge for their travel time and for out-of-pocket expenses such as postage stamps provided to their clients and long distance charges for calls made on a client’s behalf.
Be sure that you understand the billing arrangements before the work begins.
Some DMMs request payment at the time of service and others bill on a monthly or bi-weekly basis. Some local governments have reduced fee or free services available for low-income clients. Visit our volunteer outreach page to learn more and view a listing of agencies by state.
Do you have a letter of engagement? Does it include a confidentiality clause?
With which local organizations are you affiliated?
If your DMM is active in community organizations such as the chamber of commerce, a church or religious organization, community action groups, or a local provider’s council, connections in these groups will help your DMM better serve you since they will be able to refer you to other professionals and resources in the community.
Can you provide a reference list?
A reference list should include two or more clients or their family members and at least one professional; it may include a personal reference.
Take the time to call the references on the list, asking them whether the DMM is: respectful, dependable, efficient, empathetic, and professional in manner. Ask if there have been any conflicts, and if so, how they were resolved. Find out if asking for explanations of things not understood has been a comfortable situation. Ask if there were any times when the client felt uneasy about the work done by the DMM.
A Business Relationship
Your access to your own records, especially financial records, should not be restricted by the DMM. If you are being kept in the dark about the status of your own affairs, take this as a sign of trouble.