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William Shakespeare on Trust and Financial Planners

Professional financial planning is built on a foundation of trust. You entrust not just your money but also your hopes and dreams with an adviser and planner like me. Above all, you want your planner acting with your best interests at heart.

And yet, Shakespeare’s famous advice — "Love all, trust a few" — rings as true today as it did hundreds of years ago. Trust and money can indeed be a dangerous combination 😉

Good financial planners expect to earn the trust of their clients every single day. Early in the relationship, I encourage you to ask your planner:

  • What are your credentials and professional affiliations? Is your compensation aligned with my best interests? Do you have a fiduciary responsibility to your clients? Who are your 5-10 reference clients? Are you affiliated with a broker, insurer, or service provider?

And later on:

  • How are you being paid for the work you’re doing? Would other planners offer the same advice? Are there less risky or more economical ways to do this? How will your advice, specifically, help me achieve my goals? Can I sleep on this advice for a day or two?

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In today’s show, I tackle this basic question head-on: how, exactly, do you find a financial planner you can trust? And then, in more detail I look at some related questions: Is there an important difference between fee-only, fee-based, and commission-based advisers? Is it wise to deal with an adviser affiliated with a bank, mutual fund or brokerage? Why is an adviser with a fiduciary responsibility to their clients so important?

As you listen, I’ll share my feelings on the difference between various pay structures, discuss the merits of advice from institutions like Fidelity, Vanguard, or Charles Schwab, and explain why transactional relationships usually aren’t the best for clients or planners in the long run.

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