The Department of Labor has issued rules that clarify the fiduciary responsibilities of advisors who work with individuals and their retirement accounts. All advisors/representatives who manage IRAs are now required to be fiduciaries. This means they must act in the best interests of their clients when providing investment advice.
It’s worth noting that as a CFP® practitioner and Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®), I have always adhered to the fiduciary standard of acting in your best interest, regardless of industry regulations, and this rule won’t alter the standard of integrity and care I have always offered. It does, however, impose new requirements on the way I manage retirement accounts (including IRAs). As someone who has always employed a fiduciary approach, I believe the intent of the rule is consistent with the overall direction the financial services industry is heading (fee-based business vs. commission-based business). The rule is a significant step toward addressing conflicts of interest and providing more transparency of the costs associated with financial advice.
In summary, this rule changes the way accounts are structured. With this, I will transition the remaining commission-based retirement accounts to a fee-based model by December 31, 2017. My process will start with employer based-plans and finish with IRAs.
Joseph K. Bannon, Jr., CFP®, CFS®, AIF®
Here is a definition of fiduciary from Investopedia.com:
Essentially, a fiduciary is a person or organization that owes to another the duties of good faith and trust. The highest legal duty of one party to another, it also involves being bound ethically to act in the other's best interests. A fiduciary might be responsible for general well-being, but often it involves finances – managing the assets of another person, or of a group of people, for example. Money managers, bankers, accountants, executors, board members, and corporate officers can all be considered fiduciaries.
Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®)
The AIF® designation certifies that the recipient has specialized knowledge of fiduciary standards of care and their application to the investment management process. To receive the AIF® designation, individuals must complete a training program, successfully pass a comprehensive, closed-book final examination under the supervision of a proctor, and agree to abide by the AIF® Code of Ethics. To maintain the AIF® designation, the individual must annually renew his or her affirmation of the AIF® Code of Ethics and complete six hours of continuing education. The certification is administered by Fi360 at the Center for Fiduciary Studies™.