Friday, April 6, 2012
One important question you should ask your financial adviser is whether he or she is acting as a fiduciary. Acting as a fiduciary means your customers’ interests come first. In addition to acting on your behalf, fiduciaries owe you undivided loyalty and a duty to act in good faith, must avoid engaging in a conflict of interest, inform you of any conflicts, and then provide full disclosure of any advice that they offer.
There are advisers who cannot legally refer to themselves as a fiduciary but still act like one and there are some who are regulated as fiduciaries but still put their interests ahead of the client. Though an open discussion with your adviser about whether he or she is a fiduciary is not a foolproof method to decipher between the two, it can certainly put you in a better position to evaluate your situation.
See Carl Richards, A Few Things to Ask Your Financial Adviser, The New York Times, Apr. 2, 2012.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.