[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Many people could use help from a talented financial advisor, but they don’t know where to begin to look for the right advisor to trust with their finances. It’s estimated that there are 300,000 people in the United States calling themselves financial advisers, but chances are that number is much larger when including insurance agents, brokers, and financial planners.

Within this group is a wide variety of skill levels, areas of expertise, bonus services, and personalities and we get how this can just add to the confusion when you’re on the hunt. But the biggest differentiation is whether or not your advisor operates as a fiduciary. When it comes to business solutions, personal finance, investments, or insurance – you truly only have one chance to pick the right advisor to entrust your finances.

But sadly, we often times still choose poorly.

Although we’ve written in the past about how to properly evaluate a financial advisor, we want to provide one simple piece of advice that will make a huge difference if followed.
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To make a long story short, it all comes down to fiduciary status.

Some of you may call to mind our short educational article and video from February 2016 that highlighted the broker vs fiduciary models. If not, the takeaway is this: brokers are like butchers and fiduciaries are like dieticians –  You trust your butcher to sell you great meat regardless if your health dictates you would be better off eating some salmon; The dietician doesn’t care about selling you on their favorite foods or something that will interest them, rather they have your overall health in mind and only want you to be at your optimal health level. The graphic below clearly delineates the different responsibilities suitability standard advisors  and fiduciary standard advisors (like our advisors at Ark Financial) have to their clients.

Why should your advisor operate as a fiduciary?

CNBC reported last year studies and surveys regularly showing that the vast majority of American investors don’t know what a fiduciary is, let alone if their advisor is one. What they do know is whether they trust their advisor—and that’s what matters to them.

Before hiring an advisor, look into their background to see if they are credentialed – such as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA), or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). But most importantly, make sure your prospective advisor is a fiduciary if you want truly conflict-free advice.  Fiduciaries are obligated to put your best interest ahead of their own, which means they can’t recommend investments simply because of a commission.

John Oliver lays it out best during his June 12th episode of Last Week Tonight, where he turned attention to retirement planning, financial advisors, and shady practices.

Thankfully these conflicts of interest are coming into more focus, particularly as the Department of Labor issues new rules governing financial advice.

Remember: All of these terms – financial advisor, financial planner, retirement advisor – are just job titles.  These titles in no way guarantee competency, experience, or knowledge and hold no real credential (in fact you can download a certificate calling yourself a “financial advisor” on John Oliver’s website now.)

Not a fiduciary? Just walk away.

So for those of you that will be choosing a financial advisor in the coming months, please make the decision to do what we’ve suggested here:

“If an advisor is not a fiduciary, just walk away.”

By taking this step, you just may save major stress, headaches, and money too. Entrusting the wrong advisor with your finances, retirement, insurance, and general financial livelihood can be a costly mistake we don’t want you to make.

If you have a truly comprehensive financial advisor in your corner, the advice and service provided will often extend well beyond your investment portfolio itself. A fiduciary backed, conflict-free financial planner can help you keep fees low, avoid common behavioral mistakes investors tend to make, and help clients engage in good financial behavior – a lifelong skill.

Questions about your personal or business finances? Want to learn more about Ark Financial? Contact us today to see if we’re a good fit for you or your business.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”2805″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center” css=”.vc_custom_1509086240710{margin-top: 40px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row]