“Transparency is the new credibility,” says Steve McCarty, chairman of the National Ethics Association (NEA). Too often, McCarty, below, sees advisors hedging more toward being opaque than transparent with their clients and prospects. McCarty hopes to change that with the creation of an advisor database at www.ethics.net. The benefit of the database, which currently houses information on some 20,000 financial professionals, is twofold. First, it’s a place where consumers can go to “check out” that advisor who’s been pitching them products. Each advisor’s page is set up in a format we’re all accustomed to — almost like a LinkedIn profile, but very specific to the advisor’s credentials and provides contact information to regulatory agencies, both state and federal.
For the advisor, the profile allows them, as McCarty states, “credibility.” They can offer links to their various multi-media pages and provide key information about their practice. How it’s different than an advisor’s webpage? Well, basically, it’s just the facts. It’s a third-party organization housing these 20,000 advisors. Financial professionals don’t get brownie points or prettier profiles than their colleagues. And it allows consumers to see their proposed advisor on “neutral” turf, so to speak, and, ultimately, to check them out and see if they are who they say they are. As long as the advisor is doing things the right way, it’s a win-win for both sides, and that’s really all either party can ask for.
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