Many Americans may not know the ins and outs of who is a fiduciary, but new research by Financial Engines finds that a big majority — 93% — think advisors should be legally required to put their clients’ interests first, especially when it comes to retirement savings.
The research was based on a survey conducted in late February of 510 adult men and 508 adult women.
The poll results come as the Department of Labor’s final “conflict-of-interest” rule, which will have major ramifications for 89 million participants in defined-contribution plans and providers of retirement advice, is expected to be released soon.
Sixty-six percent of survey participants said they did not know the difference between an advisor who was a fiduciary and one who was not, and 16% were unsure.
Even among those who used financial counsel, 43% did not know or were unsure whether their advisor was a fiduciary.
Nearly half thought that all financial advisors were already required to put clients’ interests ahead of their own.
Financial Engines, an independent investment advisor and fiduciary for retirement plans that supports the DOL’s fiduciary rule, said industry jargon may sow confusion about what it means for an advisor to be a fiduciary. Only 18% of respondents purported to understand the meaning.