It’s still your job, not the government’s, to protect your retirement savings.
Under new rules imposed by the Department of Labor, anyone being paid to provide specific investment advice on retirement accounts must do the right thing for his or her clients.
While the regulations are likely to reduce costs and improve returns for many savers and retirees, they raise a new risk: That investment salespeople will use the term “fiduciary” as marketing magic.
By law, a fiduciary must be impartial, seek diligently to avoid conflicts of interest, disclose any remaining conflicts and always serve the best interests of clients. Until now, only registered investment advisers — not most stockbrokers and insurance agents — have had to be fiduciaries. From now on, all of them will be when they get paid for specific investment advice on retirement accounts.
But the new rules don’t oblige stockbrokers and insurance agents to act in your best interest on your other investments. Nor do the regulations prevent these salespeople from calling themselves “financial advisers” when they aren’t registered as investment advisers.
Confused? You aren’t alone. In an online survey of nearly 500 investors last month, 51% said — incorrectly — that brokers must always act as fiduciaries. Only 44% correctly said that about investment advisers.
Now that just about everyone getting paid to handle a retirement account must act as a fiduciary, it’s up to investors to ensure that he or she behaves like one.
A fiduciary is, literally, someone in whom you place faith — and that kind of confidence ought to go down to the bone.
Personally, as the author of The Confident Investor, I suggest that you don’t use a financial adviser. Read my book and follow the simple logic there. You can purchase my book wherever books are sold such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books A Million. It is available in e-book formats for Nook, Kindle, and iPad.