Alert: Read the Fine Print!
As independent financial advisors, we don’t represent any one firm, strategy or product. So financial service vendors solicit us all the time, asking us to consider recommending their products. We’ve had a huge uptick in solicitations over the last couple months, and I think I know why.
As of April 10, 2017, the Department of Labor’s “fiduciary rule” goes into affect, aimed to require all financial advisors to recommend what is in the best interests of clients when they offer guidance on 401(k) plan assets, individual retirement accounts or other tax qualified monies saved for retirement.
Sounds like a fair expectation, right? But this is actually a stark difference from the current environment, which allows advisors to operate under a less stringent standard that only requires that investment advice be “suitable.” The rule also requires advisors to disclose information to clients about fees and conflicts of interest. So at the very least, more disclosure and documentation will be required, meaning the days of hiding important information in the fine print to make a quick sale will hopefully be over.
With April now only 6 months away, the clock is ticking for certain companies that may be adversely affected by this rule to make a final push to acquire assets under the current standard. That’s probably why we are getting all these solicitations, and might be why you’re being approached too – to get business in before the buzzer sounds. In fact, we’ve been getting postcards in the mail boldly proclaiming increased incentives for use of certain products and services.
Here’s why we bring this up:
If you’re being pushed a product, know there may be greater incentives for someone to be pushing it. Read the fine print to be sure you know how it works, what you’re obligated to and the fees associated with the offering. This is especially important if the product or service includes some sort of contract that locks you into a decision for a period of time.
The product may be appropriate for you. Or, it may not be. If you’re not sure, call us before signing anything, especially if it involves some sort of contract. While the fiduciary rule is meant to protect the consumer, there are still 6 months between now and then. So we suggest you continue reading the fine print and getting a second opinion before signing anything. We’re happy to be that second opinion. It’s part of our promise, to help align your personal values, vision and wealth.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.