You would think that putting the interests of your client first before yourself would be a given, the mark of an honest steward who oversees of their client’s monetary concerns. It should be an unspoken ethos in our society and culture. But it’s not. Financial professionals’ new mantra in the public domain is advertising your official status as a fiduciary. It’s good PR, but the accountability is greater.
Substantial legal authority in the public domain is great for advertising your firm. The composition of this group is generally made up of attorneys, CPAs and fee only (no commission) advisors. They all view themselves as the pure religion when it comes to money, asset ownership and oversight responsibility. The first two groups are highly educated, the third could be. In our society they carry significant value. But with notoriety also comes increased scrutiny when things go wrong. They’re held to a different and higher standard.
Industry credentials are status symbols. CLU, ChFC, CFP and MSFS are touted as an educational achievement. The CFP community advertising on TV about advisors that have earned their vaulted designations. The public likes the certification as well, but therein lies the problem. Any arbitration case or lawsuit is going to use your credentials as a knowledgeable professional who should have recognized an error, omission or inadvertent action bordering on a misrepresentation.
Keep in mind that these titles are a two-edge sword and if you make a mistake, an error or an omission you may have to fall on that sword because under your fiduciary status, you should have known better.