A recent editorial in The New York Times points out that consumers of financial services aren’t yet safe even though the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule will likely go into effect. They are not yet safe because the new secretary of labor, Alexander Acosta, is now proposing a replacement rule that will essentially rescind the original fiduciary rule. In case you’re not familiar with the issue at hand, the editorial board explains that “While some financial advisers must adhere to a legal duty to act in a client’s best interest, many others face no such obligation. One result is that consumers pay an estimated $17 billion a year in excessive fees because advisers steer them into high-cost products when lower-cost ones are available.”
Why would Mr. Acosta propose such a rescission? “Mr. Acosta objected that the rule ‘as written may not align with President Trump’s deregulatory goals.'” The editors go on to explain how striking this is given that “Mr. Acosta’s job as labor secretary is to advise Mr. Trump on how to help working people, not how to achieve his deregulatory goals. The fiduciary rule, as written, will help working people. Rescinding it will not.”
So what is the consumer to do? The article is correct when it says that “some financial advisers must adhere to a legal duty to act in a client’s best interest…,” but who are these advisors? These advisors are fee-only advisors, and many of them are members of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. If you don’t want to worry about whether or not an advisor has your best interest in mind or, if the current administration is going to act to protect your financial interests, then be sure to work with a fee-only advisor. Fee-only advisors are legally obligated to act in a fiduciary capacity and must always place your interests ahead of their own.