It is a rare privilege to be among the few Fee-Only Financial Advisory firms who are members of NAPFA, the nation’s leading professional association of Fee-Only, Certified Financial Planner™ professionals. Given there are over 600,000 licensed brokers known to consumers as ‘financial advisors’, a professional membership of 6,000 is truly rare.
So, what exactly does this distinction mean to consumers? Simply stated, it means:
- Fiduciary – Legally sworn and obligated to always place the interest of the client ahead of their own;
- Independent – Not affiliated with any brokerage firm, bank or insurance company; and,
- Fee-Only – Compensated only by their client without compensation for any kind of product sales.
There’s another distinction that raises the bar further and that’s the body of knowledge required of Certified Financial Planner™ professionals, attained by fewer than 86,000 designees. Taken together, it’s no wonder people have a hard time finding what many are increasingly looking for in financial advice.
Let’s look at a little history. NAPFA began in 1983 and has developed into an organization renowned for high ethical standards. Its growing awareness has promoted consumers throughout the country to contact them seeking professionals who meet the highest practice standards for professional competence, client-focused financial planning and Fee-Only compensation. As a member of NAPFA, each advisor must sign and renew a Fiduciary Oath every year and subscribe to their Code of Ethics.
Every year, NAPFA recognizes the achievements of members and public figures who have made extraordinary contributions to the association, the profession and the practice of financial planning. This year one of our good friends, Michael Kitces, was awarded NAPFA’s Special Achievement Award and we wanted to share with you some of his valued comments and experiences. Michael is a highly regarded member of the financial planning world, a commentator, speaker, blogger and educator. You can check out his Nerd’s Eye View blog at Kitces.com. His passion is in support of fiduciary rules protecting the public from non-fiduciary “advice” that is frequently presented in at least the form of financial planning.
Michael’s story resonates with us. Our career path and experience parallel his in a deeply personal way. Having begun our careers as a commission-based insurance agent, we were encouraged to market as “financial Planners”. Like Michael, we were stunned to learn we were expected to recommend financial advice with little more than 40 days of product training. And like him, it really hit us hard when we realized we could easily and unwittingly have destroy a client’s savings with a few minutes of ill-advised product recommendations. These experiences ignited Michael’s (and our) passion for learning, coming to the realization that financial advisors have a sacred duty to clients to deliver the best advice possible.
For Michael, we applaud his incredible influence and impact in the area our hearts align with in our profession. Michael states it best, “As someone who has a passion for learning and sharing myself, I’ve found that I can have the most positive impact on the world by learning as much as I can and sharing it as far and widely as I can.” Find out more about Kitces at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Kitces.
Have a great weekend!