Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Is there a fiduciary in the house?

Two excerpts from The Five Key Rules To Heed Before Hiring a Financial Adviser in today's WSJ:
That brings me to today's fun fact. In Malaysia, to call yourself a financial planner, you must be qualified, such as earning the local equivalent of the CFP or the chartered financial consultant designation. But in the U.S., to hang out a shingle as a financial planner, all you need is a shingle and a place to hang it.

Advisers don't necessarily act in their clients' best interest. This issue has been brought into sharp relief by the heated debate over the Securities and Exchange Commission's so-called Merrill Lynch rule. Under the rule, fee-based advisers at brokerage firms often aren't considered fiduciaries, meaning they are supposed to recommend products that are best for their clients. Instead, they are held to a lower "suitability" standard, which means they are only required to recommend products that are a reasonable choice for their customers.
By the way, what ever happened to brokers called brokers? At Morgan Stanley, according to this WSJ report, they seem to have vanished entirely. The Retail Brokerage unit is now the Global Wealth Management unit. (Hey, welcome to our blog, guys!)


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