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Are You Confident That Your Financial Advisor Is Working In Your Best Interests

You would think that a financial professional dispensing financial advice would be required to put their clients' interests before their own.

But according to an article by Kara McGuire, in reality, that's not the way it works. "Today, broker-dealers fall under what's called a suitability" standard, meaning they must suggest investments that are appropriate for their clients, but could pick a suitable investment that also happens to earn them the highest commission."

Registered investment advisers, on the other hand, must adhere by the "fiduciary" standard, which requires them to think of their clients above all else, including their own wallets.

A little bit confusing? Adding even more to the confusion, McGuire goes on that a financial adviser, or planner, or consultant, or whatever their title, can be both a broker and an adviser, depending on the type of financial transaction they're conducting. Doesn't that make you feel secure about your retirement planning!

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) agrees that the current system leaves average investors scratching their heads. In a highly anticipated report released a week ago, the SEC staff recommended that the commissioners create rules requiring anyone dispensing financial advice to be governed by the fiduciary standard.

"Under a uniform fiduciary standard, retail investors can be made more confident in the integrity of the advice they receive as they invest for their own and their families' critical financial goals," the SEC wrote.

Surprisingly, the report received a positive response from the broker-dealer trade group, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. "It will mean that individual investors can walk into any financial institution and talk to any wealth management professional and know that regardless of who they're dealing with, they will have the same level of protection," said John Taft, chairman of the trade group and CEO of Minneapolis-based RBC Wealth Management.

Until there is a fiduciary standard, one solution to finding an objective and trustworthy advisor is the The National Alliance of Objective Financial Advisors (NAOFA). This organization pre-screens America's top advisors for you.