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What’s a Fiduciary?

What It Means To Be A Fiduciary from W Phil Ratcliff on Vimeo.

The battle over whether investment advisors, brokers, and insurance providers should be fiduciaries has been raging for almost 30 years now.  Not a lot has changed regulatory-wise.  But there are a growing number of professionals that have drawn a line in the sand to stand up and state flatly that they are fiduciaries, and will always look out for the best interests of their clients.  If you ask an advisor straight out if they are a fiduciary to you and they can’t just say “yes,” then you may want to find one that will.

Why are we a  Fiduciary:

Money and finance are some of the most sensitive subjects in almost all societies.  It is one area full of countless violations of trust and fidelity.  If you are going to accept advice about what you should do with the resources that make all of your other financial goals possible then you should be confident that those professionals will have an obligation to serve your best interests first. We believe in what we do and the advice we provide.  We are willing to take responsibility for our actions and the advice that we give to our clients.

How are we a Fiduciary:

We are a fiduciary because we are in the business of providing investment advice.  If you pay us for that advice, on any subject, then we are a fiduciary to you and will look out for your best interests first.

Plainly Disclosing Our Potential Conflicts of Interest:

  • We prefer to be paid as a percent of assets under management rather than a flat fee for planning because revenue streams are more predictable and statistically higher over time, which influences us to recommend this over fee-for-planning arrangements.
  • At the Ohio universities we only have agreements with TIAA CREF and Fidelity to directly manage your investments, which could influence us to recommend these providers over other investment choices.
  • We have multiple agreements with various insurance companies , which have differing compensation agreements.  This could affect our judgment for the insurance policies we recommend.
  • We often refer to third party professionals, and while we do not accept any form of compensation from them, our familiarity with them could bias our recommendations versus other available professionals.

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