Is Your Financial Advisor a Fiduciary?
If an advisor claims to be a fiduciary but is not willing to put that on paper -- which would force him or her to stand behind their word in court -- run away. An advisor who acts like a weasel before he has your money to work with is sure to turn into a rodent once he gets your cash.
That said, you may still be interested in working with advisors who are not fiduciaries.
There's nothing inherently wrong with an advisor who does not agree to live up to the fiduciary standard; it's just that you need to be aware of the potential conflicts and be on guard at all times when working with that person. "On guard" does not mean you'll lose sleep every night wondering whether he is about to rip you off; it's more like reminding yourself, every time he gives you a recommendation, to make sure that he has kept his interests aligned with yours, so that his vision of "appropriate" equals your version of "best."
By Chuck Jaffe