In her article, “8 things your financial planner won’t tell you,” MSN finance columnist Liz Pulliam Weston warns readers that some financial professionals have secrets and do not divulge all pertinent information to their clients. Read through the first four to see if there is anything that may be an ethical issue for you and if there is anything you need to be more transparent about.
1. You don’t have the qualifications. Pulliam Weston says, “Of the estimated 250,000 people calling themselves financial planners, only about 56,500 have earned the Certified Financial Planner mark.” She notes that there are fewer still ChFCs and PFSs.
She also warns readers that it’s not hard to masquerade as a financial planner and recommends clients check designation status by visiting the websites of the CFP Board of Standards, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Personal Financial Planning Center and the Society of Financial Services Professionals.
2. You have no obligation to put clients’ interests ahead of yours. You’ve taken oath, but do you take it serious? Pulliam Weston says that while planners do have to comply with government regulation, they are only obligated to not sell something totally unsuitable; not to ensure they create the best financial plan for clients.
She recommends clients ask for a copy of their advisor’s code of ethics, in order to be on the same page in terms of what standards the advisor is expected to live up to. We say, be first to mention your code of ethics, and talk with clients about the importance of not just suitability, but of finding the best possible solution available for them.