Acumen Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Adviser, is held by law to the highest standard of responsibility to our clients. Under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, investment advisers are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and held to the fiduciary standard requiring RIAs to always act in their clients’ best interests. The SEC regulates the fiduciary standard and encompasses these major principles:
Fiduciaries have a duty to care, which means they are committed to continually monitor a client’s financial situation and uphold the highest ethical standards throughout the relationship. Fiduciaries follow a prudent due diligence process when making investment recommendations in the client’s best interest and thoroughly explain details, so the client understands why the recommendations were made. For a fiduciary, this may mean recommending a product resulting in zero or reduced fees because it’s in the best interest of the client.
“Trust is earned when actions meet words.”
Not all financial professionals, such as broker-dealers, are held to the fiduciary standard but are held instead to the suitability standard, a lower standard of care, and are regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The suitability standard states financial professionals must only fulfill an obligation to recommend investments suitable for their client. For financial advice to be considered suitable, the financial professional must only have an adequate reason to believe a recommendation fits the client’s financial needs and situation. These recommendations are not required to be in the client’s best interest. Once a transaction takes place, their duty to a client’s investments ceases and these financial professionals are not required to continue monitoring the client’s financial situation over time.
If two comparable investment products are available for a client and one has a higher commission, an investment advisor held to the fiduciary standard cannot recommend the more expensive investment because paying a higher fee would not be in the client’s best interest. An investment professional, operating under the suitability standard, would be allowed to recommend the more expensive product provided they believe it’s suitable for the client. The suitability standard can cause conflicts of interest between an investment professional and a client because these broker-dealers can be incented to sell their own products ahead of competing products that may have lower fees. A broker’s loyalty lies with the broker-dealer he or she is employed with while the fiduciary’s loyalty always lies with the client.
Independent Registered Investment Advisers (RIAs) are required to publicly disclose details about their firm and register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and any applicable state securities authorities by filing a Form ADV. RIAs are required to provide a summary of material changes to clients annually. When hiring an independent adviser, request and read thoroughly both parts of the adviser’s Form ADV. You may review an adviser’s Form ADV, including Acumen’s, on the Security and Exchange Commission’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) website at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov.
Acumen believes in the value and power of education. We routinely deliver relevant information to our clients, so they can make informed decisions on important financial matters. One of Acumen’s educational tools is our newsletter, Market Insights.
We encourage you to sign up for Market Insights to stay up to date with changes in current economic conditions and learn more about our firm’s perspective and investment strategies. You can also schedule a meeting to discover ways we can help you and your family.