What Is A Fiduciary?
The term "Fiduciary" generally pertains to the relationship between a client and the company or individual the client hires for financial advice and planning. In a fiduciary relationship, the advisor has the obligation to act solely in the best interest of the client and put the client's interests ahead of those of the advisor and/or firm. Generally, this includes undivided loyalty in advising and servicing the client as well as disclosing conflicts of interest and providing transparency of fees and compensation for the advice and services. In the Financial Services Industry, more specifically, a Fiduciary is a firm or individual that is compensated for advice and services by the client and not by a third party, insurance company, broker-dealer, investment company, or product sale.
Examples of Fiduciaries may be found in physicians, attorneys, a trustee by title, or a Trust Department of a bank. Examples of non-Fiduciaries are more likely found in brokers, registered representatives of an investment company, a bank representative or an insurance agent. Typically, these individuals have a conflict of interest as they may also represent the priorities of the firms that compensate and employ them and they often have a contractual relationship with these employers. Also, they may have a lower standard in defining their obligation in advising the client or they may only apply the term "fiduciary" to a specific product or service, but not to the overall client relationship. A Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) Professional may or may not be acting as a Fiduciary.