For typical people in the economic middle:
- Make a significant improvement in both your financial peace of mind and your actual situation - in your own judgment.
- While only acting in clients' best interests -- my view of the Fiduciary Standard.
“Typical:” Not a hard and fast rule. Married- 1+ kids – own a home – 401k and / or 403b – IRA. If you are never married – no kids – own a home – great pension but no other resources – your situation might not be complex enough to warrant a Fiduciary analysis.
Economic "Middle:" In the US there are a number of a Certified Financial PlannerTM Practitioners [CFP®] who, like me, also hold both Investment (Series 7) and Insurance (Life & Health) licenses in addition to their CFP® Certification. With sufficient experience in all of these areas, in my professional opinion, a number of these Practitioners can competently provide a Fiduciary-level process for people in the economic middle. By my own definition and opinion, if a client can significantly benefit from paying several specialists (over and above a tax-preparer and a CFP® ) to conduct a Fiduciary analysis every year, then that client is above the economic "middle."
Why Fiduciary Standard?
While the Fiduciary Standard is a topic open to interpretation, values and discussion, it is a moral and ethical imperative for me. Using my definition, if I only act in clients' best interests, then in my professional opinion I have done the best possible job that I can do for them. Also, my understanding is that by acting as a CFP® -- Certified Financial PlannerTM Practitioner, I'm required to follow the Fiduciary Standard.
Why "significant" Improvement?
If the only improvement I can make is insignificant, the transition friction - the potential cost of making a change and / or the time, energy and focus of the client - intellectual and emotional - would likely be too negative for such a change to be Fiduciary - only in clients' best interests.
Relationship by itself can be very significant
However, at a Fiduciary level understanding clients' values - goals - family situation - as well as financial facts - is not trivial. So sometimes it is true that simply changing an ongoing advisory Fiduciary relationship is very significant!
Why 1 - 2 no-cost no-obligation phone calls?
First phone call could be non-confidential where you ask questions. A Fiduciary process in my professional opinion requires a Document Review, as well as a conversation (with both spouses, if married) about your your confidential facts, goals and values. The first phone call gives you an opportunity to speak with me before deciding whether or not you wish to have the confidential second phone call. "Sole Provider" requirement is not Fiduciary so I don't and can't require it. But seeing 100% of the documents is the only way to be Fiduciary. So I don't have to have everything, but I have to see everything.
What financial actions might be provided?
Any of these could be provided individually:
- Financial Plan
- Financial Consultation
- Investment Management
Required "bundling" is not fiduciary
Some providers might offer a Fiduciary-level financial planning process and not charge a separate fee if the potential client agrees in advance to purchase some other product and / or service. "In advance" is the critical phrase to become my definition of "bundling." This "bundling" is not a fiduciary arrangement. A possible result of a fiduciary-level process is that no other financial action is needed - i.e. the clients' best interests are to take no other actions. So the client needs the ability - legally - ethically - emotionally - to walk away after the Fiduciary analysis has been completed. "Bundling" would be like agreeing to potentially unnecessary surgery before a medical exam and diagnosis are performed. That's why medicine doesn't work that way! (I hope!