At some point in your career, you’ve probably been approached by someone peddling a financial product: insurance, investment opportunities, etc. That “amazing opportunity” may not have been in your best interest. If the person offering this product wasn’t a fiduciary, they were under no legal obligation to put your interests over their own.
As a physician, you've likely spent countless hours and resources becoming an expert in your field. However, when it comes to managing your finances, it can be overwhelming and time-consuming to navigate the complex financial landscape on your own. This is where a fiduciary can be an invaluable, trustworthy resource.
A fiduciary is a financial professional who has a legal and ethical obligation to act in their client's best interest. This means that they must put their client's financial interests above their own, even if it means recommending a course of action that is less profitable for them.
Fiduciary duties are the legal and ethical obligations that a fiduciary must follow when working with clients. They include:
Acting in the client's best interest
Avoiding conflicts of interest
Providing full transparency regarding fees and potential conflicts
Maintaining a high standard of accountability
Provide ongoing monitoring and adjustments to the client's financial plan as necessary
Fiduciaries are held to a higher standard than non-fiduciary financial advisors, who legally are only required to make recommendations that are "suitable" for their clients. This means that non-fiduciary advisors may be motivated to recommend financial products that generate higher commissions for themselves, even if those products are not the best option for their clients.
Non-fiduciary advisors may also have conflicts of interest that could impact their advice. For example, they may work for financial institutions that promote their own products, rather than recommending a product that may cost less or have better historical performance for their clients.
The higher level of accountability and transparency that a fiduciary is obligated to provide is particularly beneficial for physicians when choosing a financial advisor. The unique financial trajectory physicians often have leads to unique financial planning needs. Those needs may require complex planning and investment strategies.
By working with a fiduciary, physicians can feel confident that their advisor is providing unbiased advice that is tailored to their specific needs and goals. A fiduciary's obligation to act in their client's best interest also means that they are more likely to provide thoughtful investment advice, rather than encouraging their clients to take on unnecessary risks.
Additionally, the transparency requirements that fiduciaries must follow ensure that physicians are fully informed about the fees and compensation associated with their advisor's services.
Fiduciary financial advisors may or may not be more expensive than commission-based brokers, as the cost of financial advice can depend on several factors.
Fiduciary financial advisors typically charge fees based on a percentage of assets under management, an hourly rate, or a flat fee for financial planning services. In general, fiduciary advisors may charge higher fees for their services because they are providing personalized advice tailored to their clients' needs.
Commission-based brokers, on the other hand, earn commissions from selling financial products such as mutual funds, annuities, and insurance policies. These brokers may charge lower fees upfront, but they may not always have their clients' best interests in mind when recommending products. In some cases, commission-based brokers may recommend higher-cost products to earn higher commissions.
Ultimately, the cost of financial advice depends on the individual advisor or broker, their fee structure, the products they recommend, and the complexity of the financial situation. It's important to consider not only the cost but also the quality and type of advice you receive when choosing a financial advisor or broker.
While it's true that non-fiduciaries may have their clients' best interests in mind, they are not legally required to act in their clients' best interest in the same way that fiduciaries are. This standard falls short of the higher legal and ethical standard that fiduciaries are held to. Non-fiduciary advisors are definitely able to act in their client’s best interest, but are not legally obligated to and may be incentivized to recommend certain financial products.
The fiduciary duty to act in the client's best interest applies to all clients, regardless of their income or wealth level. Fiduciaries who work with a diverse range of clients can help individuals at all income levels achieve their financial goals by providing personalized, unbiased advice tailored to their unique needs and situation.
Working with a fiduciary can be especially beneficial for individuals like physicians, who may be more vulnerable to the potential financial risks and challenges associated with managing their money. Ultimately, the decision to work with a fiduciary should be based on the individual's specific financial planning needs and goals, rather than their income or wealth level.
Working with a fiduciary financial advisor can provide numerous benefits for physicians seeking to manage their wealth effectively. A fiduciary's legal and ethical obligations to act in their client's best interest and provide transparency and accountability ensure that physicians receive unbiased advice that is tailored to their unique financial situation and goals. Fiduciaries can provide conflict-free advice, offer specialized expertise, and ensure ongoing monitoring and adjustments to financial plans. Contrary to common misconceptions, fiduciaries are not necessarily more expensive than non-fiduciary advisors, and many are willing and able to work with clients at all income levels.
Ultimately, physicians should carefully evaluate their financial planning needs and goals, as well as the qualifications and experience of potential advisors, before making a decision on who to work with. By partnering with a fiduciary financial advisor, physicians can gain peace of mind and confidence in their financial planning, helping them achieve long-term financial success. At Earned, we’re proud to be a fiduciary, where our focus is on the best interests of our physician clients.
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