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It's About Context...

People frequently ask my opinion on financial issues and economic events. This blog allows me to answer their questions and provide context for those things that affect their financial health.

Tangible Proof of the Monetary Value of Professional Financial Planning Advice

When it comes to financial planning most people would agree that they "should" have a financial plan.

So why is it that 70% of US households don't have a financial plan?"

People come up with all kinds of reasons why they haven’t planned for their financial future:

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The urgent need for a universal fiduciary standard

I closed my last entry with the question: Under which standard would you rather the professional financial advice giver work: suitability or fiduciary?

The answer is obvious, but let me share with you what’s happening behind the scenes.

For decades, the term fiduciary has been foreign to the investing public. Over the last decade and with enactment of Dodd-Frank, it is now entering the public consciousness. (The Dodd-Frank Act is the most extensive financial regulatory laws enacted since The Great Depression. Among other things, the laws aim to prevent another financial crisis and increase consumer protections).

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Work with someone who works in your best interest

There is a lot of confusion about how different types of financial “professionals” work. On one hand, you have brokers or registered representatives (RR) who work for broker-dealers and insurance agents who represent insurance companies. On the other, you have investment advisors (IAR) who work for Registered Investment Advisors (RIA). While people use the generic term financial advisor to describe all three, there is a substantive and legal difference among them.

(The term financial advisor did not exist until the late 1990s and was a deliberate and brilliant marketing tactic to recast product sales people (i.e., brokers and agents) in a more positive light and blur the distinction among RR, agents and IARs). Suitability or Fiduciary?

RR’s and insurance agents work on the suitability standard. This means that as long as they get information about your net worth, determine how much risk you can handle and verify that you are financially qualified, he or she can recommend a product that is not necessarily in your best interest. You bear all the risk. Suitability is essentially a “buyer beware” standard filled with conflicts of interests.

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"What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say." ---- Ralph Waldo Emerson