It can be so frustrating for someone to know where to go for financial advice. Have you ever felt like the professionals you talk to don’t really have your best interests at heart? When getting advice, always ask, or at least consider how that person gets paid before taking their advice.
So let’s say you decide you need help investing your money.
Say the first person you speak to is your stockbroker. He tells you that stocks and bonds are always the best place to invest and shows you their 75-year average annual return. Then you remember the two recent bear markets and decide to get a second opinion.
When you ask a real estate agent, she will say that you need to buy a rental property because real estate is always a great long-term investment. She will show you her own 50-year average annual returns. But then you remember what happened to the real estate market in 2008, and you remember how many of your friends are underwater on their mortgages today, so you keep searching for better advice.
Then you meet with the insurance agent, who assures you that the long-term safety of a variable annuity is what you need. Funny, you don’t remember even sharing much information about your finances with the agent, yet he seems to think he knows exactly what you need. You also remember reading somewhere that the internal fees in variable annuities can be very high, which makes it difficult to achieve your goals. You keep searching.
Next, you go to your banker. She says the safest place to invest will be a CD. This sounds reasonable since this is a sure thing. After looking at the current rates, you conclude that there are actually two sure things; you won’t lose any principal, and you are sure not to beat inflation!
Finally, you go see your most trusted advisor, your CPA. After listening to your ordeal, the CPA agrees that none of these options seem like a good place for the bulk of your investments. You are feeling better now that he confirmed your thoughts, so you ask him what does he recommend? He replies that he doesn’t recommend anything. He isn’t licensed to give specific investment advice!
You might feel frustrated at this point and ask your CPA why every one of those “financial professionals” had a different suggestion. Aren’t they supposed to give you the best advice? The answer is that, by law, they are not required to give you the best advice, since stockbrokers, real estate agents, insurance agents and bankers are not Fiduciary Licensed! They each recommended the instruments that they were licensed to sell, often based on the most attractive commission to them.
Let’s face it: If someone is selling widgets, everyone they look at needs a widget.