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Finding Good Financial Advice

Unless you’re a financial advisor, you may have missed the SEC’s June release of a revised set of rules for my profession. Collectively called “Regulation Best Interest,” its mission seems noble enough: “to Enhance Protections and Preserve Choice for Retail Investors in Their Relationships With Financial Professionals.”

Time will tell if “Reg BI” works. In the meantime, I’m not convinced it’s going to make it any easier to separate good financial advice from bad. How do you actually find good advice? Here are some key qualities.

Good advice is timeless … and timely. Its principles are permanent, but it must remain relevant in an ever-changing world. Your advisor should be able to help you embrace promising new opportunities and insights, while avoiding the market’s many false leads.

Good advice looks at the parts … and the whole. Good financial advice helps you manage your investment portfolio for preserving or increasing your wealth according to your goals and your myriad related interests: taxes, insurance, estate plans, philanthropic pursuits, business interests, real estate holdings, and more. Good financial advice should bring a unifying whole to your multifaceted parts.

Good advice is personalized … and persistent. Good advice is tailored for you: your money, your interests, your life. A good advisor is there for you, not only at the “sale,” but when your resolve is being sorely tested in turbulent markets. Good advice helps you stay on course when you’ve been sideswiped by the unexpected.

Good advice is wise … and compassionate. Good financial advice is grounded in enduring academic evidence, structured process, and informed experience. But for all that, financial advice is nothing if it fails to contribute to that which brings joy to your life and protects the ones you love.

Good advice is fiduciary, period. Good advice should always and only be offered in a fully fiduciary relationship, which means your advisor must serve your highest financial interest across your entire relationship (not just in one-off transactions).

That which best serves investors best serves everyone, so we would welcome a world where good, fiduciary advice reigns supreme. Until then, I hope I’ve helped you recognize good financial advice when you hear it.

Written by John A. Frisch, CPA/PFS, CFP®, AIF®, PPC™

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