If you are keeping an eye on the financial press, you may be noticing a flurry of commentary of late, with respect to a financial advisor’s duties and obligations to his or her clients. The White House recently released its report, “The Effects of Conflicted Investment Advice on Retirement Savings.” Shortly after, the Department of Labor reignited its own efforts to raise the bar on retirement plan advisory stewardship.
Much of the storm and fury in the resulting debates stems from the fact that there are currently two very different standards of advisory duty found under the guise of financial advisor:
- Fiduciary advice obligates your advisor to serve your highest financial interests, even ahead of his or her own, and to fully disclose any conflicts of interest that may exist.
- Suitable advice is not held to the same demanding level of duty and allows conflicts of interest to go undisclosed.
The challenge is, as the White House report describes, “Consumers may not know which legal or conduct regime applies to the advice they are receiving at any moment.”
Too true. This is why we give a thumbs-up to the notion of universal fiduciary advice. Who wouldn’t want all financial advice delivered by all financial professionals to be strictly in the best interest of those receiving it? We believe it’s no coincidence that the loudest critics of this “no duh” notion seem to be those who stand to lose the most should the requirement come to pass
Repeat visitors to our blog may recall that our stance on this important issue is nothing new. In November 2014, we published a prescient four-part series, “The Worth of Sage Advice,” in which we explored the importance of fiduciary advice (particularly in Part III) and other qualities worth seeking from your financial advisor. For convenient access, we have compiled our November series into a single, “Worth of Sage Advice” report. Whether you’re reading it fresh or refreshing your memory, we hope you find our insights helpful as you consider current coverage of the debate over fiduciary advice. As always, if you would like to explore any questions or ideas you may have by speaking with us directly, we welcome your call.
Sage Serendipity: Did you celebrate Pi Day last Saturday wearing your commemorative t-shirt? The optimal moment for good cheer was at 3/14/15, 9:26:53. That’s Pi – 3.141592653. Hoot-hoot!