When it comes to managing your money, your financial needs must come first. You want to be confident that any financial advice you receive presents the best options for you, considering your goals, risk tolerance, and unique circumstances.
If you are working with a financial planner, how do you make sure they have your best interest in mind? By focusing on this important word: fiduciary.
A fiduciary is someone who advises another person and always puts that person’s best interest ahead of his or her own. If, for example, a financial planner is evaluating two investment options for a client — a more expensive, high-commission product and a lower cost, no-commission fund — they would be required to recommend the less expensive fund, assuming the two options are otherwise equal.
Not all financial advisors are required to act in their clients’ best interests, but CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professionals are. In fact, acting as a fiduciary — at all times — when providing financial advice is an obligation of CFP® professionals’ certification.
Here are four other things to know about fiduciary financial advisors:
1. CFP® professionals are held to the highest standard. Advisors who are not fiduciaries are held to the lower suitability standard, which requires only that their recommendations are suitable for a client. That means the advisor could recommend financial options that are not necessarily in your best interest (such as the pricier, high-commission investment product in the example above).
2. Fiduciary financial planners must fully disclose any potential or existing conflicts of interest that could affect their recommendations.
3. Financial planners must also disclose their compensation method upfront. This means you will always know if the financial advisor is paid through fees only or if some or all their compensation is tied to a specific product or recommendation.
4. If a financial planner practicing as a fiduciary does not act in your best interest, they may have their professional certifications and licenses revoked or face legal penalties, among other consequences.
You can trust that a CFP® professional will put your interests ahead of their own when providing financial advice, and will provide you with the competent, ethical advice you need to make sense of your finances.
Whether it be planning for retirement, healthcare, education or a special event, CFP® professionals are available to help you reach your personal financial goals. Visit LetsMakeAPlan.org today to find a CFP® professional near you.