Fiduciary Best Practices
It has been some time since I added to our blog. In 2013 I began a term on the Board of Directors for National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. While it was a great three-year experience, it was quite demanding. Several things just didn’t get done. Some of them were good for us and our clients. Bryan Hankla and others could take over and learn from things I should have stopped doing long ago. Writing regular commentaries, like this, was difficult to continue.
Serving on the NAPFA Board put me in frequent contact with people who shape the future of financial services – particularly financial planning. For about half my term, NAPFA was heavily involved in a successful push for the Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule, which will be effective in the spring of 2017. It dramatically improves fiduciary care required of anyone professionally providing investment advice to retirement plans, including 401(k)s and IRAs. The abuse we have seen come through just our office has been difficult to accept sometimes. For the first time, consumers will have real ability to hold perpetrators accountable when abuses are discovered, which should reduce the number of people hurt. There was a very strong lobby working to continue their virtual immunity to responsibility. It was not an easy process.
Unfortunately, The Rule covers only retirement accounts. Resource Advisory Services and our NAPFA colleagues have held ourselves to very high fiduciary standards and pressed for better consumer treatment since our organizations were formed (1983 for NAPFA and 1985 for us). In one of my “rants,” I said I have been working on these concerns for 30 years and we should stick to our position. We did.
During my Board term, I was also introduced to The Institute for The Fiduciary Standard, which published its Best Practices: A Professional Code of Conduct, on September 13, 2016. Resource Advisory Services affirms adherence to these Best Practices. For us, it is quite easy. We have lived these standards, which clearly define what fiduciary should mean for every client, in every circumstance. They are the standards everyone should expect for every account, not just retirement accounts. They give us, and others who can live by them, an opportunity to articulate our fiduciary standards with specific and strong language. Click here to read the Best Practices.