October 25, 2023

How To Tell If a Financial Advisor Is a Fiduciary

If you’re wondering how to tell if a financial advisor is a fiduciary these five steps will help.

By Mike Rogers, AIF®, Founder and President of 360 Financial

Mike Rogers is a fiduciary financial advisor with over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry as an investment advisor and financial planner. He founded 360 Financial in 1995 and holds series 7 and 63 security registrations with LPL Financial.

5 Ways to Tell If Your Financial Advisor Is a Fiduciary

1 – Ask them directly: A genuine fiduciary will straightforwardly affirm their role and commitment to act in your best interests.

2 – Review the advisor’s credentials: Certifications such as CFP® (Certified Financial Planner) or AIF® (Accredited Investment Fiduciary) often indicate a fiduciary standard.

3 – Examine their fee structure: Fiduciaries typically operate on a fee-only or fee-based structure, avoiding commission-based payments that could influence product recommendations.

4 – Research their registration: Check if they are registered with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) or state regulators, as Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) are held to a fiduciary standard.

5 – Request a written commitment: A fiduciary should be willing to provide a signed document that attests to their obligation to act in your best interests at all times.

Common Questions About Fiduciaries

How do I know if a financial advisor is a fiduciary?

To determine if a financial advisor is a fiduciary, you can directly ask them and also verify their status by checking their credentials and registration with regulatory bodies like the SEC.

Do all financial advisors have a fiduciary duty?

No, not all financial advisors have a fiduciary duty. Only those who are registered as such and commit to acting in the best interests of their clients carry this responsibility.

Why is it important to work with a fiduciary advisor?

It’s important to work with a fiduciary financial advisor because they are ethically and legally bound to act in your best interests, ensuring you receive objective advice and minimizing conflicts of interest. While there are great advisors out there who are not fiduciaries, you may wish to check if the advisory firm you’re working with has a fiduciary environment. 

Some firms will have CFPs and AIFs who are fiduciary advisors. They may have other advisors who are not fiduciaries but are guided by the firms policy to always act in a client’s best interest. 

The main reason people choose to work with fiduciaries is because then they can be sure they’re not being sold packaged products such as mutual funds that have excessive fees.

What is the difference between a fiduciary and a non-fiduciary advisor?

The difference between a fiduciary and a non-fiduciary advisor is that a fiduciary advisor is legally obligated to act in the client’s best interests, while a non-fiduciary advisor might prioritize their own interests or those of the institution they represent over the client’s. They do not have a fiduciary duty to their client. 

Are there any red flags to watch out for when assessing an advisor’s fiduciary status?

Yes, when assessing an advisor’s fiduciary status, red flags to watch out for include vague fee structures, reluctance to provide a written fiduciary commitment, or promoting products that offer them high commissions without clear benefits to the client.

What questions should I ask my financial advisor to confirm their fiduciary duty?

To confirm their fiduciary duty, you should ask your financial advisor if they are a fiduciary, inquire about their fee structure, and request a written statement affirming their commitment to act in your best interests.

Are there regulatory bodies or organizations that oversee fiduciary standards?

Yes, there are regulatory bodies that oversee fiduciary standards. In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and state regulatory bodies supervise fiduciary standards, and professional organizations like the CFP Board set standards for certified professionals.

What legal obligations do fiduciary advisors have towards their clients?

Fiduciary advisors have the legal obligation to act in the best interests of their clients, disclose any potential conflicts of interest, and provide advice that aligns with the client’s goals and financial situation.

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If you need a wealth management team to help you achieve your big-picture goals, we recommend scheduling a call with a financial advisor at 360 Financial.

360 Financial is one of Minnesota’s best independent wealth management firms. We work with clients in Minnesota and across the US. If you’d like to work with a team that always puts your best interests first and is committed to helping you create a lasting legacy, please get in touch. 

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About the Author

Mike Rogers

Mike Rogers

Mike Rogers is the founder and president of Minnesota-based financial advisory firm 360 Financial. As the founder, Mike’s priority is that 360 Financial always serves the clients with empathy, integrity, and honesty. This customized, client-centric approach allows the firm to help clients decipher between the things they can control and what truly matters.

In other words, Mike understands that money is not the end-all-be-all; instead, it’s the “how” that fuels the “why” to the question: “What’s important to you?”

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This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.


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