Choosing a financial advisor is a weighty decision. After all, you are entrusting an advisor with your future, hoping that they will help protect and grow what you have worked so hard to accumulate over the years, so you can realize your goals and dreams. How can you be sure that they are putting your needs ahead of their own and providing you with the best possible advice? Be sure that you are working with advisors that are following the Fiduciary Standard!
What is a Fiduciary?
Investopedia.com defines a fiduciary as someone that “acts on behalf of another person or persons to manage assets.” A fiduciary has a legal and ethical obligation to always place another’s best interest at the forefront of their advice and decision-making. Fiduciaries can be found in many types of business relationships – lawyers & clients, corporate board members & shareholders, trustee & beneficiary, financial advisors & clients. Basic expectations of these relationships include duty of loyalty, duty of care, and duty to follow client instructions.
How do I Know an Advisor is Acting Under a Fiduciary Standard?
There are several ways to determine whether an advisor is acting under the Fiduciary Standard. The first is simply to ask them directly! An advisor should be able to clearly explain how they do or do not utilize the Fiduciary Standard and how it directs their planning and advice. You can also ask to see their form ADV, which is a form under the SEC that discloses services, fees, details of the firm, and any conflicts of interest. The last option would be to confirm their licenses and designations. In order to provide investment advice, an advisor must have a series 65 or series 66 license. There are also certain designations that come with fiduciary responsibilities, such as the CFP® designation. You can look up an advisor’s licenses, designations, experience, and other items on www.brokercheck.org.
What are Some of the Responsibilities of a Fiduciary?
I am bound to follow the Fiduciary Standard with my series 66 license, which permits me to act as an Investment Advisor, and because I hold the CFP® designation. As a CFP® Professional, there are 15 specific fiduciary standards to which I am held:
- Fiduciary Duty to Clients
- Disclose and Manage Conflicts of Interest
- Providing Information to Clients (and Prospects)
- Communicating (Clearly) with Clients
- Sound and Objective Professional Judgment
- Confidentiality and Privacy
- Properly Representing Compensation Method
- Due Diligence Duties When Recommending, Engaging, and Working with Additional Persons
- Comply with the Law
- Duties When Selecting, Using, and Recommending Technology
- Not Borrowing From, Lending To, or Commingling Financial Assets with Clients
Stonegate Financial arose out of a desire to put clients’ needs at the front and center of our business. We see the Fiduciary Standard not only as a regulatory requirement that helps protect you, the client, but also as the guideline for how we walk side-by-side with you, day in and day out. It’s the reason why we spend so much time identifying your goals and what is most important to you. Our planning and advice are driven by your needs, not our own.
If you know someone who would like to work with an advisor who prioritizes their needs and best interests, please share this blog and encourage them to give us a call at 919-460-4688.
Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Stonegate Financial is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.