For many years, there have been two different standards of care and conduct within the financial planning and investment world. There has been a less stringent "suitability" standard that applies to registered representatives, such as stock brokers and insurance agents that are selling investments to clients. The investments would need to be suitable to their standard, but not necessarily in the clients' best interests. There is also the more stringent "fiduciary" standard that applies to investment advisors, where they are required to do what is in the clients' best interests. As a Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) this fiduciary standard has also applied to the financial planning services we provide to our clients for years.
Recently, there has been a major push within our industry to change the standard. The Financial Planning Association and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, as well as the regulatory environment from proposed regulations with the Department of Labor, are moving the industry towards incorporating fiduciary standards into your financial planning and investment management practice.
I felt that it was important to participate in the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) study program. I successfully passed the exam on June 4th of this year and have now obtained the AIF designation. It is awarded by the Center for Fiduciary Studies, the standard setting body for Fi360. The AIF designation signifies specialized knowledge of fiduciary responsibility, as well as the ability to implement policies and procedures that meet a defined standard of care.
The designation is the culmination of a rigorous training program, which includes a comprehensive, closed-book final examination under the supervision of a proctor, and an agreement to abide by the code of ethics and conduct standards of the organization. Additionally, there is an ongoing continuing education requirement and adherence to the code of ethics and conduct standards in order to maintain the AIF.
While the move towards additional fiduciary standards in our industry is continuing to grow, the number of financial advisors who have successfully completed the AIF program and passed the final exam is still relatively small, when compared with the number of licensed securities professionals. As always, we like to be early adopters, and be at the forefront of what allows us to serve our clients with excellence. This is why I felt it was important to move in the direction of obtaining the AIF designation.
The team at Impel Wealth Management looks forward to continuing to serve our clients and help them reach their retirement and investment goals with the highest standard of care and competence, so that they can move forward in life.