SOURCE: Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards

CFP Board

October 29, 2009 11:56 ET

The New Financial Realities: Putting Your Interests First

A Fiduciary Is an Advisor You Can Trust

Personal Statement by Eleanor Blayney, Consumer Advocate for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board):

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - October 29, 2009) - In the current financial crisis, we have learned the hard way that we can no longer afford to think about our personal finances as we did in the bubbly pre-recession days. There are new financial realities that must concern every consumer.

These new realities mean that we must re-examine some basic assumptions. In doing so, each of us can take control of his or her financial future. Over the course of this series, we will be looking at nine important financial strategies. This week: Putting your financial interests first.

Today's financial markets are complex. If you are not an expert, you can get hurt. Make sure that you're getting financial advice from someone you can trust. This means finding someone who is required to put your financial interests ahead of his or her own.

Consumers must understand what the "fiduciary standard" means; it is a legal standard of client care. Financial advisors who follow a fiduciary standard are required to put the needs of clients first. They must fully disclose how they are compensated, and any conflicts of interest they might have. In essence, it means that you come first.

Although some financial advisors, such as Certified Financial Planner™ professionals, are bound to the fiduciary standard, not all advisors are under such obligation, and it's not always easy to tell the difference. Consumers need to become educated as to what they can and should expect from their financial advisor.

Know how that person is compensated, what your costs are and how and why the advisor made the recommendations made. Financial planners can be compensated in a number of ways. Your financial advisor should make it clear how he or she is paid (commission, fee-for-service, salary, etc.) and you should get these terms in writing. You want to be sure that your advisor is keeping your specific needs and goals foremost, not just trying to make a sale.

In light of these unsettling financial times, the fiduciary standard has become even more important. If you have trust in your financial planner you will gain a sense of control; allowing you and your planner to create an effective plan of action that will guide your financial future.

Remember:

--  A financial planner who is a fiduciary is required by law to act with
    undivided loyalty to the client
    
--  This includes disclosure of how the financial planner is compensated,
    and any related conflicts of interest
    

I'm Eleanor Blayney, CFP®. As Consumer Advocate for CFP Board, I want you to remember that a financial Fiduciary puts you first.

As you navigate through your personal finances, know that you are not alone. On behalf of CFP Board, and the more than 60,000 professionals who hold the CFP® marks, thank you for visiting CFP Board's Website, and I wish you the best on your journey to a healthy financial future.

To view the new financial realities series, please visit http://www.cfp.net/learn/advocate.asp

Follow Eleanor on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EleanorBlayney

Follow Eleanor on FiLife: http://www.filife.com/user/eleanorblayney

About Eleanor Blayney, Consumer Advocate CFP Board:

Eleanor K. H. Blayney, CFP® is the Consumer Advocate for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board), the credentialing authority for over 60,000 CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals. CFP Board works on behalf of the public by upholding the highest standards for personal financial planners. With an increasing number of people calling themselves financial planners, as CFP Board's Consumer Advocate, Eleanor provides much needed guidance on what to look for in a financial planner and encourages consumers to seek out professionals who practice according to a fiduciary standard. Eleanor also helps consumers to take control of their personal finances and stresses the importance and benefits of having a formal financial plan. As a seasoned practitioner herself, Eleanor understands that consumers need strategies for addressing the rapidly-changing financial realities and alerts them to the "red flags" that may be undermining their financial security. Eleanor has more than 20 years of experience in the financial planning profession and is recognized for helping to develop the practice standards for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals.

CFP® - The Recognized Standard of Excellence in Personal Financial Planning

Contact Information