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- Disaster Recovery Plans and Succession Planning RIAs owe a fiduciary duty to clients to prepare for disasters and other contingencies. If an RIA does not have a disaster recovery plan, clients financial well-being may be jeopardized. RIAs should also engage in succession planning, ensuring a smooth transaction if an owner or principal leaves.
This is an extended version of the profile that appeared in the May issue of Investment Advisor, part of AdvisorOne's Special Report profiling this year's members of the IA 25, the most influential people in and around the advisor universe. See the complete list and Special Report schedule for extended profiles of all the 2011 members of the IA 25.
Blaine Aikin is so steeped in the fiduciary issue that Investment Advisor columnist Bob Clark believes Aikin is one of a handful of people responsible for bringing it to the forefront.
Aikin is a member of the Committee for the Fiduciary Standard (along with Harold Evensky, another member of this year’s IA 25), a group that advocates for the authentic fiduciary standard as presently established under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and seeks to ensure a “client first” approach is included in any reform that might come from Washington.
His advocacy for a fiduciary standard for advisors isn’t something he’s recently hit upon; indeed, his life is surrounded by it. Aikin serves as CEO of fi360, a company that promotes “a culture of fiduciary responsibility and seeks to improve the decision making processes of investment fiduciaries.” The company offers training, tools and resources in support of that mission from its Bridgeville, Pa.-based headquarters. The firm offers both the Accredited Investment Fiduciary and Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst designations.
“There are so many different angles occurring simultaneously,” Aikin says, when asked about where the industry stands in getting a fiduciary standard approved. “You have the SEC involvement, and the DOL with their separate definition of fiduciary. And there’s the political aspect, from a funding standpoint. So there’s a lot going on at the moment.”
Aikin notes that even in the uncertain regulatory environment, change is occurring, and he’s seeing firms and individuals who have not traditionally thought of themselves as fiduciaries realize the importance of getting into the space.
“Our business is definitely picking up speed,” he says. “We have 5,000 designees between the two accreditations. We expect to add more than 1,000 this year alone. So that’s a big jump.”
But Aikin is also noting a pick-up for non-designation training as well.
“We’re getting more demand from plan sponsors, investment committees and trustees for training as well, so that’s an area we’re heavily investing in. These people have so much of the fiduciary liability on their shoulders, and with so much happening in that area, they know they have to be better prepared."
Read more about the rest of the IA 25.
Don't see someone on this year's IA 25 that you think belongs there? Submit their name and your justification for why they should be considered among the most influential people in and around the advisor universe in the Comments field below. We promise to consider reader nominations, but please, no ad hominem attacks on those who were named in this or past years.--Ed.