Most people are familiar with the Hippocratic Oath: a sworn oath taken by physicians requiring them to uphold ethical standards. The Oath begins with the Latin words Primum non nocere, which translate as “First, do no harm.” It’s quite comforting to know that the person you entrust with good health has your best interests at heart.
But what about your financial health? Is there a similar oath for financial advisors requiring them to “do no harm” when assisting clients? As you might expect, there is no simple answer—which is precisely why President Obama’s announcement that advisors would soon be required to meet a fiduciary standard has been making headlines.
Here’s the issue: an investment advisor who pledges a fiduciary duty to you must adhere to very stringent standards ensuring that, at all times, your best interests are paramount. But many providers—bankers, brokers, insurance agents and others— choose a less stringent path by serving in a more transactional capacity. Brokers are held to a lower standard called “suitability” when offering products. As well, there are dually registered brokers who are self-described as fee-based, and who benefit from two revenue streams: fees from you, and commissions from product providers. It’s not difficult to jump to the conclusion that the lure of commissions may easily sway a broker from “the client’s best interest” toward interest in his or her bottom line.
In this recent New York Timesarticle, David Certner, AARP’s legislative counsel, stated, “We think all advice should be subject to a fiduciary standard.” At Klein Financial Advisors, we couldn’t agree more. While the pending legislation would impose a “fiduciary duty” on every investment professional, we are proud to say we’re already there. Here are the top reasons why we have always been committed to fee-only planning and putting our clients’ best interests above our own:
- Offering strictly objective advice is aligned with our evidence-based investment strategy. Evidence clearly shows that, over time, markets are relatively efficient and can help build and sustain wealth. Tactical attempts to identify and exploit marketing inefficiencies or deficiencies can create friction against the returns to which investors are entitled, through transaction costs and taxes. Esoterically, trading in markets tends to be a zero-sum game. We believe a similar equation applies to our successful relationship with you: by taking a holistic approach to your wealth, we focus on making the most of your family’s wealth.
- As a fiduciary advisor, we are confident that we fulfill our core value: integrity. Our goal is to create relationships that are more profitable for our clients than for us. Even as large corporations offer cheap, internet-driven “robo-platforms,” we are confident that our personalized advice—and our evidence-based service model—is the optimal solution for you and, in turn, for us.
Want to learn more about the fiduciary standard and why we agree it’s vital to your financial health? Call me any time to discuss this topic—or anything else that’s on your mind.