How Other Investment or Financial Representatives Work
Any “Advisor” compensated or structured in any way listed below (in other words…not completely fee-only) only has a responsibility to the company or companies they are registered to sell for. Therefore, their interest is aligned with that of the investment product…some of which may pay the “advisor” more or less than another product bringing significant conflict of interest to the relationship.
A commission is generated as the result of a transaction. The commission occurs when a financial product is purchased, sold, or even both. Some products such as annuities can generate higher commissions which can lead an advisor to sell a product that will pay them more. The “advisor” does not have any responsibility to the client after that transaction is complete.
Fee based advisors can charge a fee for certain things like financial planning, but can also charge a commission when selling products and investing your assets. It is common for a financial plan to recommend specific products that will generate a commission for the advisor.
A dually registered advisor is one who can act as either a fiduciary, or can switch hats and collect a commission to sell you products. The difficulty for clients is to determine when the advisor is a fiduciary and when he/she is a sales person. How do you know which “hat” they are wearing when they advise you?
An advisor under this standard does not need to act in your best interest; they merely need to make sure the product they sell you is suitable at the time of sale. Should your needs change in the future; they have no obligation to change the product to meet your new needs. If an adjustment is made, it will often result in an additional commission paid to the advisor. Commission, Fee-based, and Dually-Registered advisors selling investments are all held to this standard rather than the Fiduciary standard.
How Can You Tell The Difference?
The best thing to do is have your advisor complete a Fiduciary questionnaire. For your convenience, we have signed and unsigned Fiduciary questionnaires available for you to download:
A Fee-Only, Fiduciary firm like AMG will only refer to itself as a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). A Fee-Only Fiduciary advisor will only be referred to as Investment Advisor Representatives (IAR).
Still unsure? We invite you to come in and speak with one of our advisors who are qualified to explain the structure of your current portfolio with you.