Of course, the fiduciary advisor will have to meet the professional standards of prudence, loyalty and adequate asset diversification, as well as compliance with all ERISA regulations. The clients' best interests must always come first when making any recommendation, although possible benefits to the fiduciary advisor and/or the employer may also be considered, as long as they are subordinate to the needs of the employee.
Broker-dealers are regulated by the SEC, but they are not required to be fiduciaries. Rather, they are held to the “suitability standard”—they only have to prove that an investment is suitable for their client at the time of its purchase, not that the advice was in the client’s best interest. Broker-dealers typically earn a commission on sales of investments.
The financial services field is constantly evolving and changing. Recent decades have seen the rise of unified managed accounts, the development of exchange traded funds (ETF), the evolution of annuities and insured investment products, and a host of other developments. Change is par for the course as the industry adapts to dynamic economic conditions and changes in what investors want and how they wish to deploy their assets.
Peter Schiff is a contrarian investor who caught the attention of the financial world after correctly predicting the dotcom bubble of 2000 and the collapse of the U.S. housing market in 2008, long in advance. For many years, Schiff has served as the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Euro Pacific Capital, an investment firm that focuses its asset allocation outside of the American market. Schiff records a daily two-hour show and follows it by recording audio podcasts that focus on analyzing and explaining recent headlines in financial news from around the world. "The Peter Schiff Show Podcast" is an informative resource for anyone looking to understand what is happening in the global economy. Schiff also provides his listeners with strategies on how to hedge their investments in international currencies and markets. Schiff has also been known as a prominent "gold bug", promulgating the long-term value of this precious metal as a key component of one's portfolio.
A fiduciary advisor, by definition, is an advisor who is paid a retainer by an employer to advise employees on their retirement plan investments, as well as to provide a complete range of other products and services. Fiduciary advisors are not responsible for the entire company's retirement plan; they are only accountable for the advice which they give to employees on an individual basis.
What services will the fiduciary advisor provide to employees? Will the advisor provide simple retirement plan advice, or will comprehensive financial planning also be included? Is it appropriate to also offer other financial products and services to employees; things like mortgage advice, income tax planning and preparation, and estate planning? If so, how will these services be charged for and compensated? Will the employer foot the bill for all services, or will some services be considered ancillary benefits that come at an extra cost to the employee?
Investment advisors who work with retirement accounts are now held to the Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary standard. These advisors must disclose all fees and conflicts of interest. They cannot recommend products that represent a conflict within retirement accounts. In other accounts, RIAs can recommend products that represent a conflict as long as they disclose the conflict first.
You should also request a copy of a financial advisor’s Form ADV and Form CRS, which is paperwork the SEC requires advisory firms to file. This will provide information about an advisor’s business, pay structure, educational background, potential conflicts of interest and disciplinary history. That information is also available online through the SEC’s Investment Advisor Public Disclosure (IAPD) tool. You should also request a performance record and list of client references to contact.
Compensation: The employer must consider the compensation arrangement required by the advisor. Will the advisor charge hourly or annual retainer fees, or commissions, or some combination thereof? Will compensation for all services be the same? May the fiduciary advisor charge a flat fee for offering retirement plan advice, and then make a commission on the sale of long-term-care insurance to the same employee?
The R.F.P. is the older (established in 1987) and more stringent of the two publicly monitored designations. All R.F.P.s must first demonstrate their competency, then abide by a code of ethics and adhere to rigorous practice standards as defined by the granting body, the Institute of Advanced Financial Planners (IAFP). Every R.F.P. must attest each year that financial planning is their primary vocation.