The Retirement Advisor Profile
The advisor: Blaine Aiken
The firm: fi360
The Web site: www.fi360.com
What Your Peers Are Reading
The approach: Promoting the fiduciary standard worldwide, and educating companies and individuals as to their fiduciary responsibilities
The financial servicesworld may finally be catching up with the fiduciary standards that Blaine Aiken has been espousing for years. With new fiduciary expectations from the Department of Labor for advisors who provide services to clients with retirement savings accounts to kick in under DOL rules implementing provisions of the Pension Protection Act this month, clarity on who is a fiduciary and why it matters is paramount.
Aiken is CEO of fi360, a Pittsburgh-area based firm that offers education and management support for the investment fiduciary profession. On a global scale, fiduciary lapses have played a large part in the current economic crisis, Aiken asserts, with an entire web of professionals failing to fulfill their fiduciary roles. “Some of the firms did not take their roles as they should have…it’s a relationship of trust. You enter into a fiduciary [relationship] in a number of ways.”
The fiduciary lapses Aiken lists include inadequate attention to the risk of the products themselves; a lack of product transparency; the extent of bundling of mortgage loans by the firms doing the bundling; and the inadequate understanding of the products involved–and their fiduciary responsibilities–by the banking and mortgage industry’s managers and executives.
Aiken goes so far as to note that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was perhaps “not acting as fiduciary, either, with the bank and insurance giants’ bailouts. He has a duty to the citizens of the United States,” but the bailout(s) have first and foremost looked at “stabilizing the financial services industry,” Aiken says. However, he argues, “the mission of civil servant is to serve the citizens.”