American Capital Planning Blog

ACP Blog, created by Bonnie Ashby Sewell, CFP®, CDFA™, AIF®

Fools and Fiduciary

iStock david and goliath 300x199Here we are again. Apparently financial services firms are staging their usual hissy fits over being asked to level with consumers about who and how they actually serve or fail to. The shocking headline in a recent Wall Street Journal article indicates “Brokers Would Have to Put Clients’ Interests First” and that’s just making the big boys very, very unhappy.

Remember one of this firm’s mantras? Ask more questions, expect better answers. Let’s do a quick tour of Financial Services in America, circa 2015:

You as the consumer get to figure out if you can,

• What qualifications make the person in front of you ethical, experienced and education as anyone can call themselves a financial planner
• How your financial professional gets paid whether through fees or commissions on products they sell you
• Whether the advice you receive is covered under the ‘suitability standard’ or ‘fiduciary’ standard
• How much you’re paying in fees and/or commissions

This is a real David vs. Goliath issue with the entrenched Wall Street interests fighting to keep the old rules and threatening to take their balls and go home by suggesting everyone who isn’t wealthy will lose access to professional advice. It will take consumers insisting on the fiduciary rule for it to happen. John Bogle of Vanguard fame has long beat this drum on behalf of consumers. Robert Port, an Atlanta attorney who represents investors harmed by the misconduct of their stockbrokers or advisors, believes the financial services industry “sells trust, but only wants to be tied to the suitability standard.”

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