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    As a state licensed life, P&C and health insurance agent; and dual SEC registered investment advisor and representative, Marcinko was Founding Dean of the fiduciary and niche focused CERTIFIED MEDICAL PLANNER® chartered professional designation education program; as well as Chief Editor of the three print format HEALTH DICTIONARY SERIES® and online Wiki Project.

    Dr. David E. Marcinko’s professional memberships included: ASHE, AHIMA, ACHE, ACME, ACPE, MGMA, FMMA, FPA and HIMSS. He was a MSFT Beta tester, Google Scholar, “H” Index favorite and one of LinkedIn’s “Top Cited Voices”.

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HOW THE “FIDUCIARY CONUNDRUM” DEFIES PHYSICS?

And … How We Can Fix It

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA MEd CMP®

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

The Rules As I Understand Them

Securities industry Regulations and Regulators recognize that (registered) investment advisors give advice, while stock brokers sell brokerage products. Thus, the Series 65 license is required to become a financial advisor, while Series 7 licensed stock-brokers are not (and cannot) be fiduciary advisors.

So, advice is subject to a fiduciary duty, while product sales (brokerage) activity is not. The ratio of fiduciary advice to brokerage sales is about 1:99. So, what does that tell you?

A Contentious and Complicated Issue

This issue is so contentious and complicated today that lawyers are needed to define each and every term, engagement, transaction, brokerage or advisory contract, etc. It is far too amazingly contorted and complicated for most; including me; and we have even discussed the industry machinations and political double-talk on this ME-P previously; from some vary sharp industry experts, too.

The Fiduciary Conundrum

The “work-around” for these rules is industry “dual-registration”. Simply put, just get licensed to do both; as I did. Charge a commission when selling stuff and charge a fee for advice. And ideally, do both at the same time; while getting paid for both sides.

As a naïve luddite, I learned this little truism in financial planning school decades ago, and as a doctor and fiduciary for my patients at all times, almost vomited.

Of course, there were more sophisticated students in our classes who regurgitated the standard industry opinion: “We’ll give the client a financial plan for free IF we can sell commissioned products.”

Ideally this meant a fat and fully commissioned wrap account, whole-life insurance policy, LTCI policy; etc. Or, sell products and collect fat ongoing, and often unrecognizable AUM fees [fee-only], too!

From the stock broker-advisor’s POV, it was “Heads I win – tails you loose” for the client. Now, you know why I am a former or reformed certified financial planner.

The Physics Split

Know that as a pre-medical college student years earlier, I leaned about the Werner Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, in physics class.

Of course,  true Advice – is not Sales …  and Sales is not Advice. Both should never be; simultaneously. So, let’s ditch dual registration and decide which to pursue … and then proceed accordingly. Both sales and advice have risks and benefits to client and producer; both have advantages and disadvantages to both; as well.

WHY? Just like the Werner Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle; it shouldn’t [shan’t] be both; at once.

NOTE: In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is any of a variety of mathematical inequalities asserting a fundamental limit to the precision with which certain pairs of physical properties of a particle, known as complementary variables, such as position x and momentum p, can be known simultaneously.

So, in physics, I can tell you where you are -OR- how fast you are going; but not both. Thus, if it is product sales; it is not advice.

Today, since “dual registration” is still allowed, my suggestion to clients is to seek a fiduciary in all matters 24/7/354; get it in writing, and try  to avoid arbitration and “best interest” or BICE clauses! Run from [fee-based and fee-only] AUM fees, too.

PS: I am not against Series #7 representatives and product sales. Salesmen/women often provide a valuable service and should be appropriately compensated. I only object when fees, costs, charges and commissions are duplicative, excessive and/or not fully disclosed to the client. Since excessive is an arbitrary term; full disclosure is the key ingredient.

Assessment

So – How am I wrong, mistaken and/or what did I miss? Do tell! Should We – Can We – Ditch Dual Registration [DDR]?

Oh! In the future, I also hope that State fiduciary standards will potentially cover both non-ERISA and ERISA situations, and employee plan participants will have access to full discovery rights, the one thing the industry fears most.

But, that’s a discussion for another day and time.

Conclusion

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. https://medicalexecutivepost.com/dr-david-marcinkos-bookings/

Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

BOOKS

https://www.crcpress.com/Risk-Management-Liability-Insurance-and-Asset-Protection-Strategies-for/Marcinko-Hetico/p/book/9781498725989

Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™8Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

https://www.crcpress.com/Comprehensive-Financial-Planning-Strategies-for-Doctors-and-Advisors-Best/Marcinko-Hetico/p/book/9781482240283

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What is a Financial Fiduciary?

Fiduciary Trust 101 – For Consumers and Insiders

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***

Assessment

For the financial services industry: An Interview with Bennett Aikin AIF®

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. https://medicalexecutivepost.com/dr-david-marcinkos-bookings/

Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

https://www.crcpress.com/Comprehensive-Financial-Planning-Strategies-for-Doctors-and-Advisors-Best/Marcinko-Hetico/p/book/9781482240283

***

The New DOL Rule Survey

A Conversation?

[By Rick Kahler MS CFP®]

I recently learned about an unexpected response to the new Department of Labor rule which mandates that all financial advisors and brokers act as fiduciaries (that is, in the best interest of the consumer) when dealing with customers’ retirement plans.

This means brokers will be discouraged from selling high fee and commission products to a customer’s IRA or similar retirement plan. The ruling may force many brokers to revamp for IRA products that have lower fees and commissions.

The Survey

However, according to a J. D. Power survey as reported in Financial Planning, customers are not happy with their brokers charging them lower fees. While the survey found that the clients of fee-only advisors were “generally more satisfied with what they pay their firm,” it also found that commission-based clients are going to leave in droves if their advisors switch to a lower-cost, fee-only model.

Let me get this straight

A broker who until now has owed no fiduciary duty to the customer, and who sells high fee and commission products to that customer, will now be forced by their company to place the consumer’s interest first. When dealing with the customer’s IRA, the broker cannot receive commissions and can only earn a lower fee. The broker places a low-fee product in the client’s IRA.

The result?

The client is so upset they will take their business to another firm.

According to J. D. Powers, that is correct. Their survey says around 60% of the customers of brokerage firms that may have to switch to fee-only when dealing with customer’s IRAs will “probably” or “definitely” take their business to another firm.

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***

I am imagining the following conversation between a customer and a broker

Broker:

“Because of the new DOL regulations I can no longer sell you a high fee and commission variable annuity to be owned by your IRA. To comply with the ruling, my company has eliminated the 7% upfront commission on this annuity; we will now charge you a 1% annual fee. They also reduced the annual management expenses from 3% to 1%. Plus, now any advice I give you or product I recommend must be in your best interests.”

Customer:

“So you are eliminating the upfront 7% commission and replacing that with a 1% annual fee, which means 7% more of my money immediately goes to work for me in the investment, right?”

Broker:

“That’s right.”

Customer:

 “And instead of the upfront commission you are charging a new 1% annual fee, but reducing the annual management costs of the investments from 3% to 1%. So I’ll still make an additional 1% every year I own this, in addition to saving 7% up front, right?”

Broker:

“That’s right.”

Customer:

 “And further, you’re now going to look out for my best interests rather than the best interests of your company.”

Broker:

 “Yep.”

Customer:

“This is ridiculous. I’m outta here!”

Broker:

“Where are you going?”

Customer:

“To find a firm that will continue to sell me high commission, high fee products for my IRA and that will work against my best interests!”

Broker:

“You probably won’t find any. Every financial company selling investment products to IRAs has to comply.”

Customer:

 “I’ll find someone, somewhere. Goodbye!”

Assessment

This defies all logic. I can only make up stories as to why the survey found the majority of brokerage customers would leave. Might some believe the new fees would cost them more than they currently pay?

My best assumption is that there was no explanation of what “fee-only” or “fiduciary” meant. So, if the results of the J. D. Power survey don’t make a lot of sense to you, join the crowd.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, urls and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: marcinkoadvisors@msn.com

OUR OTHER PRINT BOOKS AND RELATED INFORMATION SOURCES:

Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

***

Why we cannot assume CFP® equals “Fiduciary”

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Rick Kahler MS CFP

By Rick Kahler MS CFP®

One of the most important ways to find competent and trustworthy investment advisers is to be sure they owe you a fiduciary duty.

This means the advisers’ legal and ethical responsibility is to act in your best interests, not their own or their employer’s.

An ongoing legal case featured in an October 31 article by Ann Marsh in the online Financial Planning magazine highlights both the importance and the difficulty of finding a fiduciary adviser. (Disclosure: I am one of several advisers quoted in the article.)

The whistleblower case against J. P. Morgan involves an adviser and former J. P. Morgan employee, Johnny Burris, who says he was fired after refusing to give in to pressure to sell some of his employer’s high-priced products that he did not believe to be in his clients’ best interest.

Importance?

Here is why this case is important to anyone looking for financial advice: many advisers at investment firms like J. P. Morgan hold the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. According to the website of the CFP Board of Standards, the organization that awards the certification, CFP’s are required “to put your interests ahead of their own at all times and to provide their financial planning services as a ‘fiduciary’—acting in the best interest of their financial planning clients.”

This sounds straightforward enough. Since 2008, the CFP Board has positioned the CFP designation as an indicator that an adviser will put clients’ interest first.

Unfortunately, that isn’t quite accurate.

Here is the tricky part: Advisers who sell financial products are allowed to “wear two hats” in their interaction with consumers. Any time they are giving financial advice and acting as financial planners (as defined by the CFP Board), they are expected to act in the best interest of the client/customer.

Yet if they don’t give any financial advice other than what is ancillary to the sale (a very confusing concept) of financial products to the same client/customer, that fiduciary requirement does not apply. The consumer is apparently expected to have the exceptional discernment and knowledge to know which hat is being worn at any given time.

As a consumer, you can assume that advisers holding the CFP® designation have completed many hours of education and passed tests to assess their professional competence.

However, because of the CFP Board’s hairsplitting, you cannot assume “CFP” equals “fiduciary.”

You still have to ask two essential questions:

The first is “In this engagement with me, who are you primarily responsible to, me or your company?” An adviser employed by a brokerage house or investment bank is very likely to be held most responsible to their company and expected to sell that firm’s financial products. This sets up a conflict of interest, in that the products with the highest fees will make the most money for the firm and the adviser, while those with lower fees may well be in the best interest of the clients.

A CFP® adviser who works for an independent financial planning firm may be less likely to be pressured to sell a given line of products. They also may do enough financial planning to be required to be a fiduciary.

However, you still need to ask the second question: “How do you get paid?” Any adviser who receives income from selling financial products cannot fully represent clients as a fiduciary without first overcoming an inherent conflict of interest.

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stock market

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Assessment

An adviser who doesn’t sell any products, who gives investment advice, and whose income comes solely from client fees is answerable and responsible to those clients as a fiduciary. You can trust that such a fee-only adviser will genuinely put your interests first. 

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

OUR OTHER PRINT BOOKS AND RELATED INFORMATION SOURCES:

Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™     Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

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It’s Still Harder to Become a Hairdresser than a Financial Adviser?

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How Come and Why?

[By Jason Zweig]

****

The great journalist H.L. Mencken wrote decades ago
,

“The essence of a genuine professional man is that he cannot be bought.”

And that, in turn, can spring only from a culture of exhaustive training and the highest standards of conduct.

Professions like accounting, law and medicine took decades, often centuries, to advance to the point of requiring rigorous education and licensing for all their members.

***

vintage-beauty-salon-equipment-9

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Assessment

The field of investment advice remains a long way from being able to call itself a profession.

More: http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2016/04/08/how-come-its-still-harder-to-become-a-hairdresser-than-a-financial-adviser/

On Wall Street’s Suitability, Prudence and Fiduciary Accountability

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

OUR OTHER PRINT BOOKS AND RELATED INFORMATION SOURCES:

Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™8Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

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Do Commisson-Based Fiduciary Financial Advisors EVEN Exist?

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Sometimes the Case?

By Rick Kahler MS CFP http://www.KahlerFinancial.com

Rick Kahler MS CFPCan a financial advisor represent your best interests and still earn a commission? Surprisingly, this can sometimes be the case.

But … It’s up to you to find out.

Fiduciary

Being required to put the consumer’s interest first, which means representing a client rather than selling products and services to a customer is called having a fiduciary duty. While fee-only planners are inherently fiduciaries, they don’t exclusively own the fiduciary domain. The definition of a fiduciary duty does not inherently ban receiving commissions. Numerous statutes and applications of common law can require someone receiving a commission from selling a financial product to act in a fiduciary capacity.

One such circumstance was discussed in a blog post at http://www.kitces.com by Duane Thompson, president of Potomac Strategies, LLC, a legislative and public relations consulting firm.

Registered Investment Advisor

Those registered with the SEC as Registered Investment Advisors (RIA) under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 are required to uphold a fiduciary standard of care. Advisors must register as RIAs if they, “for compensation, engage in the business of advising others” about investing in securities and as a central part of the business.

The 1940 Act has almost nothing to say about linking compensation to fiduciary responsibility. While large firms selling financial products can argue whether they must register as RIAs, it is clear that anyone registered as an RIA is held to a fiduciary standard, regardless of their compensation structure.

That said, the chances are an advisor who is compensated 100% by commissions is not an RIA and not held to a fiduciary standard. Of the 11,475 adviser firms registered with the SEC, only four are commission only, according to Thompson. Of the remainder, those that receive  a commission also charge some type of fee.

The Odds

The overwhelming odds are that, if you don’t pay a fee to a company giving investment advice or selling a financial product, they are not legally required to look after your best interests.

Even though an RIA who is totally or in part compensated by commissions has a legal obligation to put your interests first, they may still have a conflict of interest, which the SEC requires them to disclose. The size of that conflict of interest depends on the percentage of an adviser’s revenue derived from selling financial products.

Example:

For example, a RIA receiving 90% of their revenue from the sale of financial products has a large conflict of interest. The sustainability of the company and advisers’ careers depends upon sales. Arguably it’s going to be very difficult for an adviser to remain unbiased, especially if what may be in the client’s best interest is a no-load, low cost index mutual fund or variable annuity; which pay no commission.

Conversely, an advisor receiving 99% of their revenue from fees and 1% from commissions on the sale of low-cost term life insurance has almost no conflict. The sale of the insurance is most likely a convenience for clients and has an insignificant financial impact to the adviser.

face-off

[Fiduciary Advisor versus Sales Man/Woman] 

In order to find out the likelihood of advisers upholding a fiduciary standard, first ask whether they are a RIA with the SEC. If not, they owe you no fiduciary responsibility. You are a customer.

Assessment

If an adviser is an RIA, however, don’t assume there is no conflict of interest that may taint the fiduciary relationship. Ask how much of the firm’s gross revenue comes from commissions on the sale of financial products and how much comes from fees paid directly by clients. The higher the percentage of revenue that comes from fees, the lower the conflict of interest and the greater the chance you will receive unbiased, client-centered advice.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

OUR OTHER PRINT BOOKS AND RELATED INFORMATION SOURCES:

Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners(TM)

Do You Consider Yourself a Fiduciary – Are You?

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2015 IBD Report Card

By Diana Britton of WealthManagement

Why and How to Become a Certified Medical Planner™

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IBDRC-fiduciary

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Link: http://wealthmanagement.com/ibd-report-card

How This Survey Was Conducted: Between Jan. 14 and Feb. 25, 2015, REP. magazine emailed invitations to participate in an online survey to print subscribers and advisors in the Meridian-IQ database at over 80 independent broker/dealers. By Feb. 25, a total of 2,069 completed responses were received. Brokers rated their current employers on several items related to their satisfaction. Ratings are based on a 1-to-10 scale, with 10 representing the highest satisfaction level.

Note: Large IBDs, over 2,000 advisors: Cambridge, Cetera Advisor Networks, Commonwealth, LPL, Raymond James Financial Services, Securities America and Voya. Small IBDs, fewer than 2,000 advisors: CUNA Brokerage Services, Independent Financial Group, Investacorp, Investors Capital, NFP, Securities Service Network, Sigma, Signator, Summit, The Investment Center, United Planners and VSR.

More:

Read even more:

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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cmp-program1

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

OUR OTHER PRINT BOOKS AND RELATED INFORMATION SOURCES:

Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners(TM)

An Educational Niche Resource Supporting Doctors and their Consulting Advisors

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By Eugene Schmuckler PhD MBA MEd CTS [Academic Provost]

About the Medical Executive-Post

We are an emerging online and onground community that connects medical professionals with financial advisors and management consultants.

We participate in a variety of insightful educational seminars, teaching conferences and national workshops. We produce journals, textbooks and handbooks, white-papers, CDs and award-winning dictionaries. And, our didactic heritage includes innovative R&D, litigation support, opinions for engaged private clients and media sourcing in the sectors we passionately serve.

Through the balanced collaboration of this rich-media sharing and ranking forum, we have become a leading network at the intersection of healthcare administration, practice management, medical economics, business strategy and financial planning for doctors and their consulting advisors. Even if not seeking our products or services, we hope this knowledge silo is useful to you.

In the Health 2.0 era of political reform, our goal is to: “bridge the gap between practice mission and financial solidarity for all medical professionals.”

More: Letterhead.iMBA_Inc.

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niche

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Enter the Certified Medical Planners™

There is no certification program, course of study or professional designation for FAs who wish to enter the lucrative financial planning space serving physicians and healthcare professionals.

That’s why the R&D efforts of our governing board of physician-directors, accountants, financial advisors, academics and health economists identified the need for integrated personal financial planning and medical practice management as an effective first step in the survival and wealth building life-cycle for physicians, nurses, healthcare executives, administrators and all medical professionals.

Now – more than ever – desperate doctors of all ages are turning to knowledge able financial advisors and medical management consultants for help. Symbiotically too, generalist advisors are finding that the mutual need for extreme niche synergy is obvious.

But, there was no established curriculum or educational program; no corpus of knowledge or codifying terms-of-art; no academic gravitas or fiduciary accountability; and certainly no identifying professional designation that demonstrated integrated subject matter expertise for the increasingly unique healthcare focused financial advisory niche … Until Now!

Enter the Certified Medical Planner™ charter professional designation. And, CMPs™ are FIDUCIARIES, 24/7.

FAs

Video: http://vimeo.com/84247360

An Interview with Bennett Aikin AIF®

Physician-Investors and the “F” Word

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Conclusion

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How may we assist you?

Finding a Fiduciary Financial Advisor

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A Critical Life Skill? 

[By Rick Kahler MS CFP® http://www.KahlerFinancial.com]

Rick Kahler CFPIn today’s complex world of technology, regulations, and finance, a critical life skill is finding advisors and service providers we can trust.

Few of us know how to repair a laptop, grasp the details of income tax regulations, or understand the nuances of selecting the best mutual fund.

We must rely on others to help us out.

Trust Owed

In the legal sense, there are very few people who “owe” us their trust. Certainly, those selling us goods owe us accuracy and honesty. When I buy a 48-ounce bottle of 100% pomegranate juice from Safeway, I expect it to contain exactly 48 ounces and be 100% pomegranate juice, not a blend of pomegranate, grape, and apple. However, I cannot trust Safeway to know whether the health claims behind pomegranate juice are accurate or whether I can find it cheaper elsewhere.

Sales People

In a similar fashion, salespeople for appliances, cars, or cable service have one basic goal, to sell products to their customers. They owe us honesty about the costs, features, and condition of their wares. But it is up to us to research products and decide whether they are good values for us.

Professionals

Professionals in some fields give unbiased advice about certain products or services as they relate specifically to you. In a legal sense, such professionals do owe you trust. They have a “fiduciary” duty to be your advocate. The law requires a professional held to a fiduciary duty to work solely in the consumer’s interest. Examples of such professionals are physicians, attorneys, accountants, trustees, trust officers, and most real estate consultants.

When a professional has a fiduciary duty to you, you are called a client. When a professional is selling you a product or service, you are a customer.

Conflicts of Interest

One of the primary issues affecting how easily fiduciaries can advocate for you is their level of freedom from a conflict of interest. At times a potential conflict of interest can be so significant that a fiduciary will decline the engagement. Attorneys, for example, will turn you down if you want to sue someone they have represented in the past. The past association may cloud their ability to effectively advocate for you.

Compensation

One of the greatest potential conflicts of interest is how you compensate the fiduciary. Typically, paying a flat or hourly fee is the easiest way to insure there is no compensational conflict. Compensating a fiduciary with commissions almost always carries some type of potential conflict. The greater the compensation from a commission, the greater the potential conflict.

pennies

Example:

For example, Real Estate Agent A acts as a buyer’s broker with a fiduciary duty to a buyer, who pays her an hourly fee plus 1% of any amount that the final purchase price is reduced from the list price. Agent B, also a fiduciary buyer’s broker, is only compensated by a commission if there is a sale. Which agent has the larger potential conflict of interest? Without a question, Agent B. He may face a situation where his client’s interest would be best served by a sale with a lower commission or even no sale at all. Advocating for his client would mean a direct financial loss for Agent B.

To minimize such potential conflicts, in most states real estate agents are required to clearly disclose fees and get clients’ written acknowledgement. Unfortunately, the total fees charged by investment advisors, and whether you are their customer or a client, is seldom clear, often even when the advisor assures you that you will be a client. Many advisors don’t know the difference.

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Assessment

What can you do to protect yourself? Next time I will give you a five-minute solution.

Conclusion

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About the AIF® Designation

Certified Medical Planner

A Fiduciary Moniker?

[By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP®]

DEM blue tieInvestment fiduciaries and professionals are constantly exposed to legal and practical scrutiny — it comes from multiple directions and for various reasons.

And, it is likely that complaints and/or lawsuits alleging investment mismanagement will continue to increase.

Although some of these allegations may be justified, many can be avoided by having clear knowledge of who constitutes a fiduciary and what is required of one.

AIF® Designation Training 

The AIF Designation Training and designation help mitigate this liability by instructing in practices that cover pertinent legislation and best practices. The Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) designation represents a thorough knowledge of and ability to apply the fiduciary practices.

And, did you know that all Certified Medical Planners® are fiduciaries for their clients? http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

Assessment

So all FAs, feel free to check em’ out at: http://www.fi360.com/

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Conclusion

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Are “Financial Advisors” True Professionals or Employed Sales Representatives for Retail Products?

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White House Sides With Sales Reps On Overtime

Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™

[ME-P Editor-in-Chief]

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

As the US Supreme Court is preparing to review the contentious debate about overtime pay for sales reps, the US Solicitor General has filed an amicus curaie, or friend of the court brief, and sided with pharma reps. The move is not surprising, given that the US Department of Labor has, several times, taken a similar step in federal courts around the country where cases were heard.

Far Reaching Implications?

The review is expected to have far-reaching implications for the pharmaceutical industry, and I believe the financial services industry, as well. Why?

Both sectors have been fighting a growing number of cases nationwide over the past several years, but has had mixed results as the issue has continually divided the courts. At the same time, drug makers, Wall Street and broker-dealers have been laying off thousands of sales reps – “financial advisors”, “wealth managers” and stock brokers – as they try to cut costs and alter their business models to prepare for some level of fiduciary accountability.

The Issue

At issue is whether drug reps, and FAs by extension, are exempt from overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA overtime compensation requirement does not apply to employees who work as outside salespeople, but the law does require employers to pay overtime for hours worked beyond 40 hours a week, unless a FLSA exemption applies.

Link: http://www.pharmalot.com/2012/02/white-house-sides-with-sales-reps-on-overtime/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Pharmalot+%28Pharmalot%29

My Issue

And so, does this mean that most “financial advisors” are really stock-brokers and product pushers after all? At least in medicine, we doctors know what a pharmaceutical rep is – and we understand his/ her roll is to push pharma products, DME and drug sales.

Shouldn’t a salesman – be a salesman – and an “advisor” – be an RIA or RIA rep? I don’t often agree with the White House, but I do on this one.

FAs can’t be independent client advocates – and employees – at the same time

Now, isn’t it time for the public to know that the vast majority of FAs are just salesmen [still SBs], too? Just selling retail financial products to doctors and others; not drugs. After all, FAs can’t be independent client advocates – and employees – at the same time.  And, it appears with this potential filing and ruling; that they truly wish to be the later. Now FAs, admit it!

Assessment

Why do you think FAs are licensed as “registered representatives”? Rarely; a fiduciary among them!

Conclusion

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The One-Woman Physician Investors Should Not Trust

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Why We Should “Run” from the SEC’s Mary Schapiro

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]

OK, I’ve opined about fiduciary accountability for stock brokers, FAs and FPs – as well as Mary Schapiro [Chairman of the SEC] before – on this ME-P. And usually, in not so glowing terms!

But now, Mary really chaps my ethical and linguistic sensibilities.

Why I’m So P…… Off!

According to Bloomberg, and Advisor One [a financial services industry trade magazine], the chairwoman is considering something called the “business model neutral” rule that retains proprietary financial products, and brokerage sales commissions.

This concept of ‘business neutral’ is the one sought by many in the brokerage and insurance industry in order to redefine the term ‘fiduciary’ as an enhanced form of ‘suitability’ with opt-out provisions.

But, it is not sought by me, and should not be accepted by physicians.

Definitions

Suitability Rule – According to the Free Dictionary:

A stated or implied requirement by a regulatory body that a broker or investment adviser must reasonably believe that a certain investment decision will benefit a client before making a recommendation to him/her. That is, the broker or investment adviser must act in good faith, and may not knowingly recommend bad investments. Different regulators and self-regulating organizations incorporate suitable rules in different places in their bylaws. Two commonly referenced suitability rules are Rule 2310 for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and Rule 405 for the NYSE. See also: Due diligence, Prudent-person rule, Twisting.

Fiduciary Rule – According to the Free Dictionary:

A uniform standard for financial advisors that requires them to put retail customer interests ahead of their own financial interests.

This is clearly a higher duty [level of care] than suitability. Insurance agents, stock brokers, BDs and most “financial advisors” hate it.

Link: http://www.advisorone.com/2011/12/09/reaction-to-schapiro-comments-on-fiduciary-rule-ar?ref=hp

“Suitability on Steroids”

Some pundits suggest we think of this new “business model neutral” rule as “suitability on steroids.”

However, as most of us in medicine know, steroids are not a panacea and are typically used as a quick fix for short term gain, only.

Otherwise, the excessive use of anabolic steroids is bad for our physical health. Just like Mary Schapiro is bad for our fiscal health. But, a Certified Medical Planner™ is a fiduciary at all times http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

More: Enter the CMPs

Assessment       

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. I was an insurance agent and certified financial planner for almost 15 years [Series 7, 63 and 65] before I resigned all – in disgust over the fiduciary flap.

Doctors are fiduciaries. I am a fiduciary, a doctor, and a financial advisor. Shouldn’t all physician-investors demand same from their own financial advisors [NASD-FINRA, RIAs, RIA-Reps]?

But hey – I’m just a medical provider.

Conclusion

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Front Matter with Foreword by Jason Dyken MD MBA

[BY DOCTORS – FOR DOCTORS – PEER REVIEWED – NICHE FOCUSED]

***

My “One” Criterion for Hiring Physician Consultants and Doctor Advisors

More about the Frightening “F” Word

Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]

As you begin to search for a medical practice business advisor or healthcare consultant, be sure to contact the advisor and request a short initial meeting that should be free of charge.

Just as you would select your own physician, you should base your consulting decision on credentials, experience and especially education. Fee schedules are probably of least importance. And, by understanding the “F” word, you stand the best chance of finding an advisor that’s right for your budget, practice and personality.

The Traditional View

The traditional view of medical management consulting, or the financial advisory or financial planning business, is not of a fiduciary. Historically, in the view of many, attorneys, doctors, CPAs and the clergy are proto-typical fiduciaries, as are the small but emerging class of contemporary Certified Medical Planners [CMP™]. They have a clear duty to put the best interests of their clients, patients, congregation, etc., above their own and to disclose conflicts of interest, etc. Too many others who retain this title function as poseurs.

Link: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

The stock market collapse, SEC debacle, home mortgage and real estate fiascos of the past few years, all highlight the lack of general accounting, financial, business and advisory oversight of Wall Street, the NASD/FINRA and related private and government monitoring agencies. This includes financial and investment advisors, wealth managers and healthcare consultants.

Fiduciary Definition

According to Bennett Aikin, Accredited Investment Fiduciary [AIF®], a fiduciary consultant is someone who offers advice, or manages the assets of another person and stands in a special relationship of trust, confidence, and/or legal responsibility [personal communication].

Link: https://medicalexecutivepost.com/2009/03/01/an-interview-with-bennett-aikin-aif%c2%ae/

Financial designations that indicate fiduciary duty do not exist absent the proto-types mentioned above. Rather, it is function that determines who is a fiduciary; not designations, certifications or licenses to hold a particular trade-mark, service-mark or registration-mark.

So, a fiduciary advisory, according to these definitions can be held accountable for a breach in fiduciary duty, regardless of any expertise they do, or do not have. This underscores the critical nature of understanding the fiduciary standard and delegating certain duties to qualified “professionals” who can fulfill the parts of the process that a non-qualified fiduciary cannot.

Fiduciary? – Get it in Writing!

But, this does not mean it is impossible to find a healthcare consultant who accepts fiduciary responsibility and acknowledges the same. The best way to rectify confusion is to get fiduciary status acknowledged in writing and review all of the necessary steps in the fiduciary process to ensure fulfillment. An acknowledgement of fiduciary status letter can even be a simple checklist to ensure the entire fiduciary process is being covered.

Link: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

About http://www.fi360.com

Public resources for understanding the fiduciary process and for choosing appropriate consultants include the Department of Labor, the AICPA’s Personal Financial Planning division, and iMBA Inc. Private resources are available from the law firm of Reish Luftman Reicher & Cohen. The firm specializes in employee-benefits law and is considered leading ERISA experts. More resources from www.fi360.com include:

  • Fiduciary Standard of Excellence
  • Safe Steward Document
  • Stewardship Handbook
  • Legal Memorandum Handbook

Conclusion

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The Uniform Prudent Investor Act versus Fiduciary Accountability

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A Primer and Review for Financial Advisors

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA, CMP™

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

More than a decade ago Charles L. Stanley, CFP™ gave an overview of the legislation and highlights areas of change for financial advisors and planners and to the financial services industry. To date, the Uniform Prudent Investor Act (UPIA) has been enacted in most states. Essentially, the act changed the legal criteria for “prudent investing” for trusts. All assets owned by a trust are considered “investments” for purposes of the Uniform Prudent Investor Act. Consequently, if a trust owns a life insurance policy or an annuity, it is considered an “investment” for purposes of the UPIA. Trustees and their advisors are subject to the act.

Background Review

The UPIA (California Probate Code Article 2.5) was adopted by the Uniform Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1994. When determining whether or not certain investing is “prudent,” the standard is applied to the whole portfolio rather than to individual investments.

The UPIA radically changes the analysis of risk. The UPIA considers that risk is unavoidable. For example, fixed income instruments carry the risk of loss of purchasing power, even though the principal may not be reduced in terms of real numbers. Risk is often desirable so long as it is sufficiently compensated. The UPIA seeks to compel the trustees to analyze the trade-offs between risks and returns, taking into consideration the needs and objectives of the trust.

Restrictions Reduced

The restrictions on what type of investments can be held in trust have been eliminated. The trustee can invest in anything that plays an appropriate role in achieving the risk/return objectives of the trust and that meets the other requirements of prudent investment. The trustee’s duty to diversify trust assets is codified in the UPIA. It is now recognized that proper effective diversification may enhance returns and/or reduce risk at the same time.

The UPIA rejected the traditional trust rule that generally prohibited “delegation of duty” by trustees, especially the duty of investment of trust assets. Delegation is now permitted, subject to safeguards. Agents are now made liable if they do not follow the new law.

What Must a Trustee Do to Comply with the Act?

According to Stanley, to comply with the UPIA, trustees must review trust assets and make and implement decisions to either keep or discard assets in order to bring the trust portfolio into compliance with the purposes, terms, distribution requirements, and other circumstances of the trust:

  • The trustee must diversify the assets of the trust unless it is prudent not to do so (16048). For example, it would not be acceptable for the trust to hold all municipal bonds.
  • The trustee must either comply with the Act in full or have the trust amended to restrict the requirements to diversify trust assets.
  • The trustee must delegate if he or she believes that he or she doesn’t the expertise to perform certain functions, this is particularly anticipated in the area of investment management. The trustee is expected to document all of the above to be available for review either by beneficiaries and/or courts should they become involved. This includes a written Investment Policy Statement. The act doesn’t specifically require this, but how would one prove they had been acting as a prudent trustee without documentation?
  • The trustee must periodically review the circumstances, assets and any professional delegates whom he or she has retained to assist him or her. The portfolio must be periodically rebalanced to maintain the established risk/reward characteristics identified in the Investment Policy Statement. This is not specifically stated, but is implied in ¤16047(b) and is a part of proper portfolio management under Modern Portfolio Theory. The act requires the costs of management to be “reasonable.”
  • The trustee must deal impartially with beneficiaries when there are two or more beneficiaries and must invest impartially, taking into account the differing interests of the beneficiaries.

Note: In most states, trust language can draft the trustee out of any and all requirements of the Uniform Prudent Investor Act. Many attorneys are doing this. So check trust language carefully.

Assessment

This essay is not a “final answer” in regard to compliance with the Uniform Prudent Investor Act. Financial advisors should consult with a competent attorney if you have any questions about a specific application with a specific physician investor or other client.

http://www.amazon.com/Financial-Planning-Handbook-Physicians-Advisors/dp/0763745790/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276795609&sr=1-1

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. How has the fiduciary standard altered the above Act; or the current Dodd-Frank Act [Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act]? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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What is the Role of a Physician-Focused Financial Advisor?

Changing Times – Demand Changing Roles

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA, CMP™

Editor-in-Chief

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

As a financial advisor for more than 15 years, it has been my experience that many doctors who require assistance in developing a comprehensive personal financial plan also need help with implementing any investment planning recommendations. While perhaps not so true before the “flash-crash” of 2008-09, the issue seems especially true today as retirement portfolios have been decimated, and the specter of healthcare reform is no longer just a threat but a political reality. The mindset of hubris has been replaced by a tone of fear in many medical colleagues.

The Financial Advisors

Physician investors who develop an investment plan may use a competent financial advisor [FA] or other specialist in the investment area. A financial advisor can help clients understand their current financial situations and develop strategies for achieving their goals. Other FAs are specialists that help clients design and implement plans for investing. Still others use a more comprehensive approach to the entire financial planning process with extreme degrees of healthcare specificity

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

These Certified Medical Planners™ are fiduciaries at all times and put client needs first as registered investment advisors [RIAs], not commissioned sales agents or mere stock-brokers despite often confusing monikers.

Implementation

Implementation may be accomplished using professionally managed portfolios and mutual funds. The following shows how a plan may be implemented with an advisor assisting the physician-investor. The process may include:

• Developing investment policy and strategies

• Selecting and implementing managed portfolios and mutual funds

• Evaluating performance on a periodic basis

• Periodically reviewing and adjusting the investment plan as required

Note: The advisor may provide all of the investment services, or the physician investor may use other advisors in the process.

Example: 

A financial planner has developed a number of financial planning recommendations for a client. One recommendation is to develop a written investment plan, review current investments, and implement changes. The planner has recommended an investment advisor experienced in selecting and monitoring managed portfolios and mutual funds. The financial planner will meet with the client and advisor initially and once each year to monitor the plan.

Example: 

A financial planner has developed a financial plan for a client. The financial planner specializes in developing investment policy but not in implementing investments. The financial planner will use asset allocation software and develop a written long-term plan for the client. The doctor-client will work with a major brokerage firm to implement the plan using managed portfolios and mutual funds. The financial planner will monitor the brokerage firm and help the client evaluate performance.

Example:

A financial planner has developed a financial plan for a physician-client and will assist the client in developing asset allocation strategies. The planner has extensive knowledge in implementing the asset allocation strategies using managed portfolios and mutual funds. The planner will select and monitor the choices. The planner will provide the client with a quarterly performance report and meet with the client every six months to review the plan and strategies.

Assessment

Understanding the above is more critical than ever as physician-income continues to shrink going forward in the era of healthcare reform.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Do you seek professional assistance with your investing needs, or do you go-it-alone; why or why not? Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Are Primary Care Doctors Becoming More Like Financial Advisors?

Hospitals [BDs] “versus” Family Practitioners [FAs]

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Editor-in-Chief]

The Big Mistake

Those who believe that hospitals need medical specialists like radiologists, pathologists and oncologists, more than primary care doctors, are mistaken. And, those doctors who believe that the majority of “financial advisors” work for their clients are also mistaken. Here’s why in analogy format.

Why Hospitals Need PCPs

Hospitals generally need primary care physicians, more than specialists, because insurance contracts can be negotiated from a position of strength. A solid [large] primary care panel is a must-have for most insurance contracts. Just recall more than a decade ago – when PCPs were told of an emerging new renaissance where they would reign in place of the medical specialists? It never happened then, but it may happen now following healthcare reform.

Also, recall that the growth of fiduciary Registered Investment Advisors [RIAs] was slow until the stock market collapse of 2008. The pace is accelerating today with the political dawn of financial reform.

Patient’s Love their PCPs – Not their Hospitals

Moreover, please realize that few patients shop around for specialists, or hospitals, as they do for PCPs. OK, the OB-GYNs are unique in that they can play a dual role – as specialist and primary care doctor – just ask my wife who would rather eat nails than change her [female] female doctor.

Hospitals also need PCPs as referring physicians to generate business through their ERs, admissions department, outpatient centers, and/or by ordering invasive and non-invasive radiology tests, images, scans or laboratory tests, and/or sending patients to specialists who will do expensive procedures or surgery in their ORs, hospital and/or related facilities.

Doesn’t this sound like a stock broker working for his wire-house or broker-dealer?  

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

The PCP Loss Leader

Primary care is a loss-leader to hospitals as they make little money directly off medical practices, but can generate a great deal from the referrals and procedures the grass-roots docs generate; especially if they “play the game” like commissioned stockbrokers. And, consider brilliant medical diagnosticians, like TV’s Gregory House MD, and all those tests and procedures they can do – just to be sure!

No wonder that physician-executives and hospital administrators like Dr. Lisa Cuddy of the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, in New Jersey, love them.

Ditto for wire-house office managers and stock-brokerage OSJs [Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction] who love their “top producers”, brokers and FAs.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=operating+room&iid=288202″ src=”0284/9dbd59b4-ffc4-49c4-8b2e-3b568f74dc9d.jpg?adImageId=12660700&imageId=288202″ width=”380″ height=”253″ /]

Conflicted Missions

Unfortunately, this shifts the mission of PCPs from keeping patients out of the hospital – as physical and fiscal advocate – to sending them to the hospital as a “heavy admitter-referrer” with resulting perks and swagger.

Thus, “success” of the PCP from a hospital perspective is not to avoid referrals or costly procedures, but to gather them.  However, success is a matter of perspective that may be very unfortunate for the patient, state or federal payer, private employer and/or insurance company.

Financial Advisor Analog

Does this PCP conundrum sound like the conflicted situation found with many “independent” financial advisors today? Are PCPs becoming mere patient gatherers, or profit generating shills, for their hospitals, employers or healthcare systems? Where does one’s duty rest? Are we doctor’s or medical product/procedure merchants?

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Is this analogy correct, or not. Is it too harsh or too gentle – and for whom?

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Retirement Plan Risks for Physician-Employers

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Advantages Well Known – Disadvantages Not So

By Brian J. Knabe, MD

[Certified Medical Planner™ candidate]

A source of risk often overlooked by the physician-employer is the risk involved in offering a retirement plan.

Medical practice owners, like other small business owners, find several advantages to starting a retirement plan. The plan can be used to allow the owners to save money in a tax-advantaged manner, and a generous retirement plan can help to attract and retain quality employees.

Administration Risks 

The recent “Great Recession” and turbulence in the stock market have highlighted the risks involved in administering these plans. There is a long history of fraud and neglect in the field of retirement savings plans, and a series of legislative efforts have been enacted to counter these abuses.

Current standards are based primarily on four federal laws, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Uniform Prudent Investors Act (UPIA), the Management of Public Employee Retirement Systems Act (MPERS), and the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA).

ERISA Standards 

According to ERISA standards, you may be considered a fiduciary for a retirement plan if you meet any of the following tests:

  • You exercise discretionary authority or control over plan assets or plan management.
  • You are specifically identified in the written documents of a plan as a named fiduciary.
  • You have discretionary responsibility in the administration of the plan.
  • You manage the plan or its assets or render investment advice for a fee.

Recent court decisions have found fiduciaries to be personally liable, even for acts of which they were unaware or in areas not considered within their scope of responsibility. Acting with good intentions or in good faith is not an acceptable defense. Neither is ignorance of your responsibilities.

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

Liability Mitigation 

The liability of the administrator (or business owner) can be diminished by taking these steps:

  • Act in a procedurally prudent manner.
  • Diversify investments to minimize the risk of large losses.
  • Provide sufficient information and education to employees to enable them to exercise control over their investments.
  • Offer a broad, diversified investment menu having at least three (preferably five or six) “core” alternatives, each of which must be diversified.

Assessment

The most efficient way to meet these and other requirements is to hire a retirement plan provider which is a certified as a fiduciary, and which accepts “co-fiduciary” status along with the practice owner.  The Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) offers certification as a fiduciary.

For more information, see www.savantcapital.com/cefex.

Savant Capital Management, Inc®

190 Buckley Drive

Rockford, IL 61107

Tel 815-227-0300

Fax 815-226-2195

bknabe@savantcapital.com

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Conclusion

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Financial Advisory Reform Going Down in Flames

A [False] Hobson’s Choice*

By Staff Reporters

In political Washington DC, according to Ian Salisbury, almost anything will fly if you can make an argument it will benefit the middle class. It worked in the fight against requiring advisors to act in clients’ best interests … Say what?

Is this the case of a classic Hobson’s choice?

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=bank+reform&iid=8227139″ src=”c/3/0/3/Sen_Dodd_Discusses_655e.jpg?adImageId=12270785&imageId=8227139″ width=”380″ height=”570″ /]

The Strategy

Yep, its true! At least, this strategy worked for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors [NAIFA], which fought a recent proposal that would have made all financial advisors act in clients’ best interests … you know – the “F” word.

Assessment

It seems that there are few protections for the public from unscrupulous FAs, stockbrokers, and insurance agents. And, few wish to become fiduciaries.

http://www.fa-mag.com/online-extras/5406-a-phony-argument.html

*A Hobson’s choice is a free, usually economic, choice in which only one option is offered.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Please visit: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

As former certified financial planner, insurance agent, stockbroker, surgeon and this ME-P publisher Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA, CMP™ has always opined to physician colleagues: it is “buyer-beware” out there!

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On Employer Based Health Insurance Premium Costs

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One Client’s Comparative Expense Analysis Experience

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA

[Publisher-in-Chief]

Hospital Costs

A colleague posted an interesting essay recently on his blog The Incidental Economist. Austin Frakt PhD is a health economist with an educational background in physics and engineering. After receiving a PhD in statistical and applied mathematics, he spent four years at a research and consulting firm conducting policy evaluations for various federal health agencies. Here is the post.

Link: http://theincidentaleconomist.com/index.php?s=Kaiser%2FHRET+

The Survey

In his essay, Austin reported these figures from a cited survey:

“The 2009 Kaiser/HRET employer health benefits survey found that employees pay 17% of the $4,824 annual premium for single coverage and 27% of the $13,375 annual premium for family coverage (all average figures)”.

Case Report Model

So, if the survey is correct, it got me thinking about how much a long-time client paid as a doctor-employer, when she last practiced in a certain medical group back in 2000. And, especially about how much she would be paying today if still in business with the same group. This brief case-report with comparative expense analysis [CEA} is the up-shot.

My Client’s Story

Her health insurance premium costs including doctor-partners, was about $13,500 annually, per employee. This was a sunk cost, but an above the AGI line deductible business expense to the practice and entirely employer paid as a fringe benefit [all valid corporate expenses are deductible as there is no AGI line on a business tax return]. She and her three partners were both very magnanimous to their employees, and naïve. They became virtually insolvent a few years later and were bought out by a larger medical group for a pittance. Today, they are grunt employee doctors in a 25 plus physician group practice.

My Numbers

Now, if I crunched the numbers correctly as an citizen economist, on my HP12-C calculator, using health insurance inflation rates of 3%, 5% and 7% respectively for a decade [low], she would be now be paying somewhere between $18,143 and $21,990 and $26,556 in 2010 [dangerously assuming linear economics]. Each of her 15-18 employees at the time was a female, head of household, with 1-4 dependents of their own; no singles. Her own family unit included a professional husband and young daughter in private elementary school. They were the most health conscious of the bunch.

Her Situation

So, she left the group in 2000, and we transitioned her to solo private practice with a HD-HCP indemnity-styled [better] plan that pays 100% after her $5,000, and later $10,000, deductible. She has 100% prescription drug coverage, no OB coverage and no networks, second opinions or pre-certification requirements. Today, she has more than $50-K in the savings portion [cash account earning 3.5%, tax deferred].

Her Reaction

As she just turned age 55, there as was significant jump in her family coverage premiums from about $1,350/quarter to $1,650/quarter! Of course, her carrier offered a ten percent discount to $1,485 quarter, when she pitched a fit, and completed a health and wellness survey which “they” verified.

My Intervention

So, I used my “insider” knowledge as a doctor, financial advisor and insurance agent and went back to the open market place for coverage. Her new direct halth insurance coverage [she used a non-fiduciary insurance agent intermediary previously] is better, and her premium is only $1,248/quarter or about $5,000 annually to age 58. Bye, bye insurance agent. Link:  www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

Now, if we use the non-inflated [a conservative unlikely scenario] 27% employee premium contribution for the present value projections of $18,143 and $21,990 and $26,556 today – each employee would be responsible for about $4,898, $5,937 and $7,170 respectively [please again recall both our conservative nature and the repeat danger of linear economic assumptions].

Where Did the Money Go?

So, under the 3-5% health insurance inflation scenario, my client would have been contributing about $5,417 for her heath insurance. This is very close to what she is annually paying now! So, where did the much larger employer’s contribution portion of the money go? Probably to overhead costs, marketing, advertising, sales and commissions, HR, high-risk pool premiums, ie … down the drain?

What did my client do with the monetary difference? Well, she paid all family doctor and drug bills that were under the high-deductible threshold; some went to her annual family health club membership dues, covered extras and various “wants and nice-to-haves”, and the remainder of course, went into her savings account portion. In other words … not down the drain.

There is an additional $1.000 “catch up” savings provision for those over age 55. She paid it – to herself.

The Road Ahead – More Expensive

I informed my colleague-client that there likely will be another big premium jump when she turns 58, 60 and age 62 respectively. We will report back to ME-P readers on market competition and related health insurance pricing at that time, ceteris paribus.

Assessment

Does the competitive open marketplace find a way to reduce HI costs– sooner or later? High Deductible HealthCare Plans were launched as a temporary pilot project in 1997 and initially sold poorly. In the past few years however, there has been a boom in HD-HCPs and the pilot project was made permanent. What other HI innovations may be in the future?

Of course, President Obama was against them in his original healthcare reform plan. But, now in his weakened political position, they seem acceptable to him. So, go figure. Utility depends on political winds, not economic efficacy, I suppose. 

Conclusion

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Doctors versus Retail Bankers

Understanding Modern Reality

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA

Doctors often carry notoriously heavy debt loads. Beyond the costs of a medical education are substantial costs for equipping, launching and staffing a practice. Technology changes fast these days and capital is required frequently. And, the era of eMRs, ARRA, HI-TECH and Obama-Care is upon us!

“I‘m a Banker – I’m Here to Help”

Unfortunately, retail bankers are now very conservative by nature; and the liquidity squeeze and financial meltdown of 2008-2009 makes credit even more difficult to obtain. It may be increasingly difficult to borrow money, especially since modern bankers know that a medical degree is no longer the guarantee of a steady and high income that it once was in the past. As more than one banker has often opined to me,

“We don’t usually loan money to doctors who really need it.”

Nevertheless, the more business a physician does with a bank, the better the terms that can be obtained; even thought hey may also not have a clue about what the practitioner can do to better compete in the managed care arena.

Why Big-Banks Hate Customers

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/JubaksJournal/why-big-banks-hate-banking.aspx

Local Community

Some bankers do have a good concept of local community politics however, for those not familiar with a practice venue. They frequently can provide references to more focused advisors, and bankers generally do not charge a fee for their advice. But, banks selling products are doing so according to their governing regulations as “prudent experts” under ERISA, and are not necessarily held to a fiduciary standard in any broader sense.

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Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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I Jealously “Shake my Fist” at Somnath Basu PhD

On CFP® Mis [Trust] – One Doctor’s Painful Personal Experience

[“So Sorry to Say it … but I Told You So”]

By: Dr David Edward Marcinko; FACFAS, MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]dem21

According to Somnath Basu, writing on April 6, 2009 in Financial Advisor a trade magazine, the painful truth is that many financial practitioners are merely sales people masquerading, as financial planners [FPs] and/or financial advisors [FAs] in an industry whose ethical practices have a shameful track record. Well, I agree, and completely. This includes some who hold the Certified Financial Planner® designation, as well as the more than 98 other lesser related organizations, logo marks and credentialing agencies [none of which demand ERISA-like fiduciary responsibility]. For more on this topic, the ME-P went right to the source last month, in an exclusive interview with Ben Aiken; AIF® of Fi360.com  

fp-book4

The CFP® Credential – What Credential?

Basu further writes that stockbrokers and insurance agents who earn commissions from buying and selling stocks, insurance and other financial products realize that a Certified Financial Planner® credential will help grow the volume of their business or branch them into other related and lucrative products and services. After all, there are more than 55,000 of these “credentialed” folks. And, this marketing designation seems to have won the cultural wars in the hearts and minds of an unsuspecting – i.e., duped public; probably because of sheer numbers. Didn’t a CFP Board CEO state that its’ primary goal was growth, a few years ago? Can you say “masses of asses”, as the oft quoted Bill Gates of Microsoft used to say when only 2,000 micro-softies defeated 400,000 IBMers during the PC operating system wars of the early 1980’s. Quantity, and marketing money, can trump quality in the public-relations business; ya’ know … if you repeat the lie often enough … yada … yada … yada! Yet, as the so-called leading industry designation, the CFP® entry-barrier standard is woefully low. Moreover, the SEC’s [FINRA] Series #7 general securities licensure sales examination is not worth much more than a weekend’s study attention, even to the uninitiated.

insurance-book2

Easy In – Worth Less Out

In our experience, we agree with Basu and others who suggest that scores of lightly educated, and sometimes wholly in-articulate and impatient individuals are zipping through the CFP® Board of Standards approved curriculum in three to six months of online, on-ground, or “self-study”. But, that some can do so without a bachelor’s degree when they join wire-houses and financial institutions, which cannot be trusted to adequately train them, is an abomination. And, even more sadly, some of these CFP™ mark-holders, and other folks, believe they have actually received an “education” from same. Of course, their writing skills are often non-existent and I have cringed when told that, in their opinion, advertiser-driven trade magazines constitute “peer-reviewed” and academic publications. Incidentally, have you noticed how thin these trade-rags are getting lately? Much like the print newspaper industry, are they becoming dinosaurs? One agent even told me, point-blank, that his CLU designation was the equivalent of an “academic PhD in insurance.” This was at an industry seminar, where he thought I was a lay insurance prospect.

THINK: No critical thinking skills.

biz-book4

Education

There is another sentiment that may be applied in many of these cases; “hubris.” I mean, these CFP® people … just don’t know – how much they don’t know.”  The very real difference between training versus education is unknown to many wire-houses and FAs, isn’t it? And, please don’t get me started on the differences in pedagogy, heutagogy and androgogy. Moreover, it’s sad when we see truly educated youngsters become goaded by wire-houses into thinking that these practices are de-rigor for the industry. One such applicant to our Certified Medical Planner™ program, for example, had both an undergraduate degree in finance and a graduate degree in economics from the prestigious Johns Hopkins University – in my home town of Baltimore, MD [name available upon request]. He was told, in his Smith Barney wire-house training program, to eschew CMP™ accountability and RIA fiduciary responsibility, when working with potential physician and lay clients; but to get his CFP® designation to gather more clients. To mimic my now 12 year-old daughter; it seems that: SEC Suitability Rules – and – Fiduciary Accountability Drools. And, to quote Hollywood’s “Mr. T”; I pity the fools, er-a, I mean clients. But, T was an actor, and this is serious business.

cmp-logo1

Of CEU Credits and Ethics

Beside trade-marks and logos, we are all aware that continuing education, and a code of ethics, is another important marketing and advertising component of state insurance agents and CFP licensees. It’s that old “be” – or “pretend to be” – a trusted advisor clap-trap. Well, I say horse-feathers for two reasons. First, both my insurance and CFP® Continuing Educational Unit [CEU] requirements were completed by my daughter [while age 7-10], by filling in the sequentially identical and bubble-coded, multiple-choice, answer-blanks each year. Second, this included the mandatory “ethics” portions of each test. When I complained to my CEU vendor, and state insurance department, I was told to “enjoy-the-break.”  My daughter even got fatigued after the third of fourth time she took the “home-based tests” for me.  After I opened my big mouth, the exact order of questions was changed to increase acuity, but remained essentially the same, nevertheless. My daughter got bored, and quit taking the tests for me, shortly thereafter. She always “passed.”dhimc-book3

Thus, like Basu, I also find that far too many financial advisors are unwilling to devote the time necessary to achieve a sound education that will help attain their goals, and would rather sell variable or whole life products than simple term life, even when the suitability argument overwhelmingly suggests so, for a higher payday. We not only have met sale folks without undergraduate degrees, but also too many of those with only a HS diploma, or GED. Perhaps this is why a popular business truism suggests that the quickest way for the uneducated/under educated class to make big bucks, is in sales. Just note the many classified ads for financial advisors placed in the newspaper job-section, under the heading “sales.” Or, in more youthful cultural terms, “fake it – until you make it.”

Of the iMBA, Inc Experience

According to Executive Director Ann Miller RN MHA, and my experience at the Institute of Medical Business Advisors, Inc:

“Far too many financial advisors who contact us about matriculation in our online Certified Medical Planner™ program – in health economics and management for medical professionals – don’t even know what a Curriculum Vitae [CV] is? Instead, they send in Million Dollar Roundtable awards, Million Dollar Producer awards, or similar sales accomplishments as resume’ boosters. It is also not unusual for them to list some sort of college participation on their resumes, and websites, but no school affiliation or dates of graduation, etc. And, they become furious to learn that we require a college degree for our fiduciary focused CMP™ program, and not from an online institution, either. The onslaught of follow-up nasty phone-calls; faxes and emails are laughable [frightening] too.”  

www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com

Assessment

More often than not, it is the financial institutions that FAs and CFP™ certificants’ work for that reward sales behavior with higher commissions, rather than salaries; which encourage such behavior and create the vicious cycles that are now the norm.

THINK: ML, AIG, Citi, WAMU, Wachovia, Hartford, Prudential, etc.

Note: Original author of Restoring Trust in the CFP Mark, Somnath Basu PhD, is program director of the California Institute of Finance in the School of Business at California Lutheran University where he’s also a professor of finance. He can be reached at (805) 493 3980 or basu@callutheran.edu. We have asked him to respond further.

My Story: I am a retired surgeon and former Certified Financial Planner® who resigned my “marketing trademark” over the long-standing fiduciary flap. I watched this chicanery for more than a decade after protesting to magazines like Investment Advisor, Financial Advisor, Registered Rep, Financial Planner, the FPA, etc; up to, and even including the CFP® Board of Standards; to no avail. Feel free to contact me for a copy of a 43 page fax, and other supportive documentation from the CFP® Board of Standards – and their outsourced intellectual property attorneys – over a Federal trademark infringement lawsuit they tried to institute against me for innocent website errors placed by a visually impaired intern. Obviously, they disliked the launch of our CMP™ program. As a health economist and devotee of Ken Arrow PhD, I polity resigned my license, as holding no utility for me, to the shocked CFP Board. They later offered to consider re-instatement for a mere $600 fee with letter of explanation, to which I politely declined. Of course, my first thought after living in the streets of South Philadelphia while in medical school, during the pre-Rocky era, was to say f*** off – but I didn’t. Nevertheless, I still seem to be on their mailing list, years later. No doubt, the list is sold, and re-sold, to various advertisers for much geld. And, why shouldn’t they; an extra bachelor, master and medical degree holder on their PR roster looks pretty good. I distrust the CFP® Board almost as much as I distrust the AMA, and its parsed and disastrous big-pharma funding policies. Right is right – wrong is wrong – and you can’t fool all of the people, all of the time, especially in this age of internet transparency.

Shaking my Fist at Somnath … in Envy

And so, why do I shake my fist at Somnath Basu? It’s admittedly with congratulations, and a bit of schadenfreude, because he wrote an article more eloquently than I ever could, and will likely receive much more publicity [good or slings-arrows] for doing so. You know, it’s very true that one is never a prophet in his own tribe. Oh well, Mazel Tov anyway for stating the obvious, Somnath. The financial services industry – and more specifically – the CFP® emperor have no clothes! Duh!

ho-journal5

Good Guys and White Hats

Now that Basu’s article has appeared in Financial Advisor News e-magazine, the other industry trade magazines are sure to follow the CFP® certification denigration reportage, in copy-cat fashion. And, the fiduciary flap is just getting started. This is indeed unfortunate, because I do know many fine CFP® certificants, and non-CFP® certified financial advisors, who are well-educated, honest and work very diligently on behalf of their clients. It’s just a shame the public has no way of knowing about them – there is no white hat imprimatur or designation for same – most of whom are Registered Investment Advisors [RIAs] or RIA reps. For example, we know great folks like Douglas B. Sherlock MBA, CFA; Robert James Cimasi MHA, AVA, CMP™; J. Wayne Firebaugh, Jr CPA, CFP®, CMP™; Lawrence E. Howes MBA, CFP®; Pati Trites PhD; Gary A. Cook MSFS, CFP®, CLU; Tom Muldowney MSFS, CLU, CFP®, CMP™;  Jeffrey S. Coons PhD, CFP®; Alex Kimura MBA, CFP®; Ken Shubin-Stein MD, CFA; and Hope Hetico RN, MHA, CMP™; etc. And, to use a medical term, there are TNTC [too many, to count] more … thankfully!

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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An Interview with Bennett Aikin AIF®

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On Financial Fiduciary Accountability

[By Prof. Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™]

[By Ann Miller; RN, MHA]

Currently, there is a growing dilemma in the financial sales and services industry. It goes something like this:

  • What is a financial fiduciary?
  • Who is a financial fiduciary?
  • How can I tell if my financial advisor is a fiduciary?

Now, in as much as this controversy affects laymen and physician-investors alike, we went right to the source for up-to-date information regarding this often contentious topic, for an email interview and Q-A session, with Ben Aikin.ben-aikin

About Bennett Aikin AIF® and fi360.com

Bennett [Ben] Aikin is the Communications Coordinator for fi360.com. He oversees all communications for fi360. His responsibilities include messaging, brand management, copyrights and trademarks, and publications. Mr. Aikin received his BA in English from Virginia Tech in 2003 and is currently an MS candidate in Journalism from Ohio University.

Q. Medical Executive Post 

You have been very helpful and gracious to us. So, let’s get right to it, Ben. In the view of many; attorneys, doctors, CPAs and the clergy are fiduciaries; most all others who retain this title seem poseurs; sans documentation otherwise.

A. Mr. Aikin

You are correct. Attorneys, doctors and clergy are the prototype fiduciaries. They have a clear duty to put the best interests of their clients, patients, congregation, etc., above their own. [The duty of a CPA isn’t as clear to me, although I believe you are correct]. Furthermore, this is one of the first topics we address in our AIF training programs, and what we call the difference between a profession and an industry.  The three professions you name have three common characteristics that elevate them from an industry to a profession:

  1. Recognized body of knowledge
  2. Society depends upon practitioners to provide trustworthy advice
  3. Code of conduct that places the clients’ best interests first

Q. Medical Executive Post 

It seems that Certified Financial Planner®, Chartered Financial Analysts, Registered Investment Advisors and their representatives, Registered Representative [stock-brokers] and AIF® holders, etc, are not really financial fiduciaries, either by legal statute or organizational charter. Are we correct, or not? Of course, we are not talking ethics or morality here. That’s for the theologians to discuss.

A. Mr. Aikin

One of the reasons for the “alphabet soup”, as you put it in one of your white papers [books, dictionaries and posts] on financial designations, is that while there is a large body of knowledge, there is no one recognized body of knowledge that one must acquire to enter the financial services industry.  The different designations serve to provide a distinguisher for how much and what parts of that body of knowledge you do possess.  However, being a fiduciary is exclusively a matter of function. 

In other words, regardless of what designations are held, there are five things that will make one a fiduciary in a given relationship:

  1. You are “named” in plan or trust documents; the appointment can be by “name” or by “title,” such as CFO or Head of Human Resources
  2. You are serving as a trustee; often times this applies to directed trustees as well
  3. Your function or role equates to a professional providing comprehensive and continuous investment advice
  4. You have discretion to buy or sell investable assets
  5. You are a corporate officer or director who has authority to appoint other fiduciaries

So, if you are a fiduciary according to one of these definitions, you can be held accountable for a breach in fiduciary duty, regardless of any expertise you do, or do not have. This underscores the critical nature of understanding the fiduciary standard and delegating certain duties to qualified “professionals” who can fulfill the parts of the process that a non-qualified fiduciary cannot.

Q. Medical Executive Post 

How about some of the specific designations mentioned on our site, and elsewhere. I believe that you may be familiar with the well-known financial planner, Ed Morrow, who often opines that there are more than 98 of these “designations”? In fact, he is the founder of the Registered Financial Consultants [RFC] designation. And, he wrote a Foreword for one of our e-books; back-in-the-day. His son, an attorney, also wrote as a tax expert for us, as well. So, what gives?

A. Mr. Aikin

As for the specific designations you list above, and elsewhere, they each signify something different that may, or may not, lend itself to being a fiduciary: For example:

• CFP®: The act of financial planning does very much imply fiduciary responsibility.  And, the recently updated CFP® rules of conduct does now include a fiduciary mandate:

• 1.4 A certificant shall at all times place the interest of the client ahead of his or her own. When the certificant provides financial planning or material elements of the financial planning process, the certificant owes to the client the duty of care of a fiduciary as defined by CFP Board. [from http://www.cfp.net/Downloads/2008Standards.pdf]

•  CFA: Very dependent on what work the individual is doing.  Their code of ethics does have a provision to place the interests of clients above their own and their Standards of Practice handbook makes clear that when they are working in a fiduciary capacity that they understand and abide by the legally mandated fiduciary standard.

• FA [Financial Advisor]: This is a generic term that you may find being used by a non-fiduciary, such as a broker, or a fiduciary, such as an RIA.

• RIA: Are fiduciaries.  Registered Investment Advisors are registered with the SEC and have obligations under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 to provide services that meet a fiduciary standard of care.

• RR: Registered Reps, or stock-brokers, are not fiduciaries if they are doing what they are supposed to be doing.  If they give investment advice that crosses the line into “comprehensive and continuous investment advice” (see above), their function would make them a fiduciary and they would be subject to meeting a fiduciary standard in that advice (even though they may not be properly registered to give advice as an RIA).

• AIF designees: Have received training on a process that meets, and in some places exceeds, the fiduciary standard of care.  We do not require an AIF® to always function as a fiduciary. For example, we allow registered reps to gain and use the AIF® designation. In many cases, AIF designees are acting as fiduciaries, and the designation is an indicator that they have the full understanding of what that really means in terms of the level of service they provide.  We do expect our designees to clearly disclose whether they accept fiduciary responsibility for their services or not and advocate such disclosure for all financial service representatives.

Q. Medical Executive Post 

Your website, http://www.fi360.com, seems to suggest, for example, that banks/bankers are fiduciaries. We have found this not to be the case, of course, as they work for the best interests of the bank and stockholders. What definitional understanding are we missing?

A. Mr. Aikin

Banks cannot generally be considered fiduciaries.  Again, it is a matter of function. A bank may be a named trustee, in which case a fiduciary standard would generally apply.  Banks that sell products are doing so according to their governing regulations and are “prudent experts” under ERISA, but not necessarily held to a fiduciary standard in any broader sense.

Q. Medical Executive Post 

And so, how do we rectify the [seemingly intentional] industry obfuscation on this topic. We mean, our readers, subscribers, book and dictionary purchasers, clients and colleagues are all confused on this topic. The recent financial meltdown only stresses the importance of understanding same.

For example, everyone in the industry seems to say they are the “f” word. But, our outreach efforts to contact traditional “financial services” industry pundits, CFP® practitioners and other certification organizations are continually met with resounding silence; or worse yet; they offer an abundance of parsed words and obfuscation but no confirming paperwork, or deep subject-matter knowledge as you have kindly done. We get the impression that some FAs honesty do-not have a clue; while others are intentionally vague.

A. Mr. Aikin

All of the evidence you cite is correct.  But that does not mean it is impossible to find an investment advisor who will manage to a fiduciary standard of care and acknowledge the same. The best way to rectify confusion as it pertains to choosing appropriate investment professionals is to get fiduciary status acknowledged in writing and go over with them all of the necessary steps in a fiduciary process to ensure they are being fulfilled. There also are great resources out there for understanding the fiduciary process and for choosing professionals, such as the Department of Labor, the SEC, FINRA, the AICPA’s Personal Financial Planning division, the Financial Planning Association, and, of course, Fiduciary360.

We realize the confusion this must cause to those coming from the health care arena, where MD/DO clearly defines the individual in question; as do other degrees [optometrist, clinical psychologist, podiatrist, etc] and medical designations [fellow, board certification, etc.]. But, unfortunately, it is the state of the financial services industry as it stands now.

Q. Medical Executive Post 

It is as confusing for the medical community, as it is for the lay community. And, after some research, we believe retail financial services industry participants are also confused. So, what is the bottom line?

A. Mr. Aikin

The bottom line is that lay, physician and all clients have a right to expect and demand a fiduciary standard of care in the managing of investments. And, there are qualified professionals out there who are providing those services.  Again, the best way to ensure you are getting it is to have fiduciary status acknowledged in writing, and go over the necessary steps in a fiduciary process with them to ensure it is being fulfilled.

Q. Medical Executive Post 

The “parole-evidence” rule, of contract law, applies, right? In dealing with medical liability situations, the medics and malpractice attorneys have a rule: “if it wasn’t written down, it didn’t happen.”  

A. Mr. Aikin

An engagement contract accepting fiduciary status should trump a subsequent attempt to claim the fiduciary standard didn’t apply. But, to reiterate an earlier point, if someone acts in one of the five functional fiduciary roles, they are a fiduciary whether they choose to acknowledge it or not.  I have attached a sample acknowledgement of fiduciary status letter with copies of our handbook, which details the fiduciary process we instruct in our programs, and our SAFE, which is basically a checklist that a fiduciary should be able to answer “Yes” to every question to ensure the entire fiduciary process is being covered.

Q. Medical Executive Post 

It is curious that you mention checklists. We have a post arguing that very theme for doctors and hospitals as they pursue their medial error reduction, and quality improvement, endeavors. And, we applaud your integrity, and wish only for clarification on this simple fiduciary query?

A. Mr. Aikin

Simple definition: A fiduciary is someone who is managing the assets of another person and stands in a special relationship of trust, confidence, and/or legal responsibility.

Q. Medical Executive Post 

Who is a financial fiduciary and what, if any, financial designation indicates same?

A. Mr. Aikin

Functional definition: See above for the five items that make you a fiduciary.

Financial designations that unequivocally indicate fiduciary duty: Short answer is none, only function can determine who is a fiduciary. 

Q. Medical Executive Post 

Please repeat that?

A. Mr. Aikin

Financial designations that indicate fiduciary duty: none. It is the function that determines who is a fiduciary.  Now, having said that, the CFP® certification comes close by demanding their certificants who are engaged in financial planning do so to a fiduciary standard. Similarly, other designations may certify the holder’s ability to perform a role that would be held to a fiduciary standard of care.  The point is that you are owed a fiduciary standard of care when you engage a professional to fill that role or they functionally become one.  And, if you engage a professional to fill a non-fiduciary role, they will not be held to a fiduciary standard simply because they have a particular designation.  One of the purposes the designations serve is to inform you what roles the designation holder is capable of fulfilling.

It is also worth keeping in mind that just being a fiduciary doesn’t equate to a full knowledge of the fiduciary standard. The AIF® designation indicates having been fully trained on the standard.

Q. Medical Executive Post 

Yes, your website mentions something about fiduciaries that are not aware of same! How can this be? Since our business model mimics a medical model, isn’t that like saying “the doctor doesn’t know he is doctor?” Very specious, with all due respect!

A. Mr. Aikin

I think it is first important to note that this statement is referring not just to investment professionals.  Part of the audience fi360 serves is investment stewards, the non-professionals who, due to facts and circumstances, still owe a fiduciary duty to another.  Examples of this include investment committee members, trustees to a foundation, small business owners who start 401k plans, etc.  This is a group of non-sophisticated investors who may not be aware of the full array of responsibilities they have. 

However, even on the professional side I believe the statement isn’t as absurd as it sounds.  This is basically a protection from both ignorant and unscrupulous professionals.  Imagine a registered representative who, either through ignorance or design, begins offering comprehensive and continuous investment advice.  Though they may deny or be unaware of the fact, they have opened themselves up to fiduciary liability. 

Q. Medical Executive Post 

Please clarify the use of arbitration clauses in brokerage account contracts for us. Do these disclaim fiduciary responsibility? If so, does the client even know same?

A. Mr. Aikin

By definition, an engagement with a broker is a non-fiduciary relationship.  So, unless other services beyond the scope of a typical brokerage account contract are specified, fiduciary responsibility is inherently not applicable.  Unfortunately, I do imagine there are clients who don’t understand this. Furthermore, AIF® designees are not prohibited from signing such an agreement and there are some important points to understand the reasoning.

First, by definition, if you are entering into such an agreement, you are entering into a non-fiduciary relationship. So, any fiduciary requirement wouldn’t apply in this scenario.

Second, if this same question were applied into a scenario of a fiduciary relationship, such as with an RIA, this would be a method of dispute resolution, not a practice method. So, in the event of dispute, the advisor and investor would be free to agree to the method of resolution of their choosing. In this scenario, however, typically the method would not be discussed until the dispute itself arose.

Finally, it is important to know that AIF/AIFA designees are not required to be a fiduciary. It is symbolic of the individuals training, knowledge and ongoing development in fiduciary processes, but does not mean they will always be acting as a fiduciary.

Q. Medical Executive Post 

Don’t the vast majority of arbitration hearings find in favor of the FA; as the arbitrators are insiders, often paid by the very same industry itself?

A. Mr. Aikin

Actual percentages are reported here: http://www.finra.org/ArbitrationMediation/AboutFINRADR/Statistics/index.htm However, brokerage arbitration agreements are a dispute resolution method for disputes that arise within the context of the securities brokerage industry and are not the only means of resolving differences for all types of financial advisors.  Investment advisers, for example, are subject to respond to disputes in a variety of forums including state and federal courts.  Clients should look at their brokerage or advisory agreement to see what they have agreed to. If you wanted to go into further depth on this question, we would recommend contacting Brian Hamburger, who is a lawyer with experience in this area and an AIFA designee. Bio page: http://www.hamburgerlaw.com/attorneys/BSH.htm.

Q. Medical Executive Post 

What about our related Certified Medical Planner® designation, and online educational program for financial advisors and medical management consultants? Is it a good idea – reasonable – for the sponsor to demand fiduciary accountability of these charter-holders? Cleary, this would not only be a strategic competitive advantage, but advance the CMP™ mission to put medical colleagues first and champion their cause www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org above all else. 

A. Mr. Aikin

I think it is a good idea for any plan sponsor to demand fiduciary status be acknowledged from anyone engaged to provide comprehensive and continuous investment advice.  I also think it is a good idea to be proactive in verifying that the fiduciary process is being followed.

Q. Medical Executive Post 

Is there anything else that we should know about this topic?

A. Mr. Aikin

Yes, a further note about fi360’s standards. I wrote generically about the fiduciary standard, because there is one that is defined by multiple sources of regulation, legislation and case law.  The process defined in our handbooks, we call a Fiduciary Standard of Excellence, because it covers that minimum standard and also best practice standards that go above and beyond.  All of our Practices, which comprise that standard, are legally substantiated in our Legal Memoranda handbook, which was written by Fred Reish’s law firm, who is considered a leading ERISA attorney.

Additional resources:

Q. Medical Executive Post 

Thank you so much for your knowledge and willingness to frankly share it with the Medical-Executive-Post.

Assessment

All are invited to continue the conversation with Mr. Aikin, asynchronously online, or thru this contact information:

fi360.com
438 Division Street
Sewickley, PA 15143
412-741-8140 Phone
866-390-5080 Toll-free phone
412-741-8142 Fax

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™8Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

About Fi360.com

Education for Financial Fiduciaries

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According to the firm and website, www.Fi360.com offers a full circle approach to investment fiduciary education, practice management and support that has established it as the go-to source for investment fiduciary insights.

 

The Term “Fiduciary” Defined?

And, Fi360 defines an investment “Fiduciary” as:

“Someone who is managing the assets of another person and stands in a special relationship of trust, confidence, and/or legal responsibility”

Related definitional info: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Practitioner Based

With substantiated best-practices as a foundation, the firm offers training, tools and resources that are essential for fiduciaries and those who provide services to fiduciaries to effectively and successfully manage their roles and responsibilities. Fi360 say it is committed to assisting those who rely on their education programs, Web-based analytical software and resources to achieve success.

Training

Fi360 offers both AIF® and AIFA® training curriculums. The AIF® curriculum instructs investment fiduciaries on how to fulfill their duties to a defined standard of care. The AIFA® curriculum instructs participants on how to assess the conformance of investment fiduciaries to a Global Fiduciary Standard of Excellence [GFSE] using an ISO-like assessment process. These training curriculums are available in both classroom and Web-based settings; customized program are also available. Participants who successfully complete the programs, submit dues, agree to a code of ethics and meet other prerequisites may earn the AIF® or AIFA® designations, respectively.

Goals and Objectives

The goal of Fi360 is to help investment fiduciaries manage their responsibilities. But, according to Bennet Aiken AIF®, Fi360 Communications Coordinator, it is important to realize that AIF® / AIFA® designees are not required to be fiduciaries. While these designations are symbolic of training, knowledge and ongoing fiduciary development, they do not mean certification holders will always be acting as a fiduciary.

Assessment

Publications, blogs, articles, national conferences, assessments and more material for the collective and ongoing support of the fiduciary community are available; many for free and/or for the general public.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. But, why would a healthcare institution, medical practice, clinic or individual physician-investor hire anyone who will not act as a fiduciary and put their interests first; especially an AIF®/AIFA certification holder?

Note: Beginning today, and for the entire month of March 2009, we will be posting an exclusive interview with Bennett Aikin AIF®, the Communications Coordinator for fi360.com. Our topic will be on the rules, regulations and very definition of the modern financial fiduciary. Perhaps he can explain it all? Don’t miss it!

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Physician Financial Planning: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/0763745790

Medical Risk Management: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421

Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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A Due-Diligence ‘Condom’ for Physician Investors

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Using Financial Advisors with Increased Safety

[By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™]dr-david-marcinko8

Following the Bernie Madoff investment scheme, and related financial industry scandals, here are seven “red-flags” that should have alerted physician-investors to proceed with extreme caution. Always consider them before making an investment with any financial advisor [FA], registered representative [RR] or financial advisory firm, regardless of reputation, size, referral recommendation or so-called industry certifications and designations. In other words, according to Robert James Cimasi; MHA, AVA, and a Certified Medical Planner™ from Health Capital Consultants LLC, of St. Louis, MO;” trust no one and paddle your own canoe.”

Red Flags of Cautious Investing

As a former insurance agent, financial advisor, registered representative, investment advisor and Certified Financial Planner™ for more than a decade, the existence of any one of the following items may be a “red-flag” of caution to any investor:

  • Acting as its’ own custodian, clearance firm or broker-dealer, etc.
  • Lack of a well-known accounting firm review with regular reporting.
  • Unreliable or sporadic written performance reports.
  • Rates-of-return that don’t seem to track industry benchmarks.
  • Seeming avoidance of regulatory oversight, transparency or review.
  • Lack of recognized written fiduciary accountability in favor of lower brokerage “sales suitability” standards.
  • No Investment Policy Statement [IPS]. 

Assessment

Let a word to the wise be sufficient going forward. But, in hindsight, a healthy dose of skepticism might have prevented this situation in the first place. As is the usual case, fear and greed often seem to rule the day. Just as there is no such thing as safe sex – just safer sex – there is no thing as safe intermediary investing. But, exercising some common sense will surely make investing with any financial advisor much safer. It’s like a condom for your money. 

For more information on the topic of fiduciary standards – which we have championed for the last ten years in our books, texts, white-papers, journal and online educational Certified Medical Planner™ program for FAs – watch out for our exclusive Medical Executive-Post interview with Bennett Aikin AIF®, Communications Coordinator of www.fi360.com coming in March. Ben, an Accredited Investment Fiduciary® did a great job with the tough questions submitted by our own Ann Miller; RN, MHA and Hope Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™. Don’t miss it!

Disclaimer

I am the Managing Partner for http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org and I agree with this message.

Conclusion

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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Protecting Your Pension

A Book Report for “Dummies”

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According to one review, this aptly-titled book Protecting Your Pension for Dummies [Wiley-July 2007, 978-0-470-10213] has proven to be prophetic in its early warnings against money-hungry financial advisors [FAs].

Watch the “Advisors”

The text, written by pension litigators Robert D. Gary and Jori Bloom Naegele, cautioned about hidden fees for financial advisors, lack of benchmarks for financial performance, inappropriate and risky investments, and heavily weighted distribution of plan investments in shaky company stock; etc. In other words, the traditional industry “bar of suitability”, is both ethically and legally low.

Assessment

For example, did you know that the financial services [read “sales”] industry has no definition for the term “financial advisor?”  According to one source, it can be a “butcher, baker or candle-stick maker.” Of course, there are many fine financial services salesmen and consultants “out-there”. But, finding one may be difficult. And, does it not seem that an increasingly number of pundits, like the authors of this book, and others, suggest their numbers are fewer and farther between than the industry itself suggests?

Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Are medical professionals, and the lay public, finally realizing that far too many of these FAs [read stock-brokers] are not fiduciaries working on your behalf; do not have to disclose conflicts of interest, and do not put client interests first?

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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Financial Advisory “F” Bomb

Placing Client Interest before Self-Interest

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We are taking an informal poll, and are asking two key questions of financial intermediary modernity.

 

#1. As a financial advisor, regardless of designation, do you require a brokerage arbitration agreement; or not? Why or why not?

#2. Does this document place client interest first – as in a true fiduciary relationship – at all times? Please explain your rationale.

#3. Regardless of your philosophy – pro or con – regarding the use of arbitration agreements, do you give clients the option of selecting a fiduciary relationship; or not? Is it in writing?  

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Please respond; clients, doctors, laymen and FAs; etc. Is this query the ultimate “F” bomb?

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Physician Financial Planning: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/0763745790

Medical Risk Management: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421

Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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Fiduciary Burden of Participant-Directed Investment Plans

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An Emerging Issue for Physician-Executives

[By Jeffery S. Coons; PhD, CFP]

Managing Principal-Manning & Napier Advisors, Inc

fp-book1

The goal of designing a participant-directed investment menu should be to provide enough diversification of roles to allow participants to make an appropriate trade-off between risk and return, without having so many roles as to create participant confusion. 

Medical Administrative Burden

Ultimately, the burden on plan administrators and physician executives is to adequately educate employees and is largely driven by the investment decisions we require them to make in the plan, with more choices necessitating a greater understanding of the fundamental differences between and appropriate role for each choice.  The logical questions that arise when selecting options on a menu are:

  • Are there clear differences among the options?
  • Are these differentiating characteristics inherent to the option or potentially fleeting?
  • Are the differences among options easily communicated to and understood by the typical plan participant?
  • Most importantly, if participants are given choice among these different options, can the decisions they make reasonably be expected to result in an appropriate long-term investment program?

Fiduciary Concerns and Liabilities

All this adds up to additional fiduciary concerns for the health care entity and plan sponsor. 

For example, can the typical participant understand growth and value as concepts when even the experts can not agree on their definitions? The use of style based menus for self-directed plans bring this issue to the forefront. What about investment strategy?  What choices are we expecting the participant to make when offering growth and value styles for one basic asset class role? 

Finally, beyond the responsibility to provide effective education, what other fiduciary issues are associated with style categorization for a participant-directed investment menu?

Effective Style Communications

Consider whether the differences among manager styles can be effectively communicated to the average participant.  Because the general style categories of “growth” and “value” are not well defined, we are expecting the participant to understand how the manager is making investments in a fundamental manner and the differences in risk/return characteristics of these alternative approaches.  This exercise is difficult for investment professionals and trustees, so it will be even more unlikely to be properly understood by an average participant.

Given Assumptions

Let’s assume for the moment that there is an effective means for understanding the different risk and return characteristics of two managers investing in what is ultimately the same basic asset class.  When allowing the choice of these two differing approaches, what decision can the participant make?  There are four possibilities:

  1. Select the single manager whose investment philosophy makes the most sense overall to the participant;
  2. Time the decision of when to move from one management philosophy to another;
  3. Split the allocation between the two managers; or,
  4. Give up from confusion and do not participate in the plan.

We have already discussed the difficulty of the first choice, so let’s consider the second possibility.  This decision is an extremely risky choice that typically leads to poor or even catastrophic performance. 

Why?  Timing decisions such as this are typically based upon recent past performance, which is cyclical in nature.  In essence, investors generally chase after yesterday’s returns and invest in funds after their period of strong relative performance.  The strong flows into S&P 500 Index funds and growth/momentum firms of today were preceded by flows into value/fundamentally-oriented investment firms a few years ago. 

In fact, a Journal of Investing academic article in the Summer of 1998 (“Mutual Fund Performance: A Question of Style”) found that mutual funds changing their investment style had the worst performance of any style individually.

Allocation Choices

The next choice is to split the allocation between growth and value.  While this approach may mean that the participant will not under-perform significantly when any one style is out-of-favor, it also means that the participant will generally never out-perform either.

Nevertheless, by combining two halves of the same basic universe within an asset class, it is likely that the basic performance of the asset class will result (i.e., index-like returns).  Since the participant is paying the higher expenses of active, value-added mutual funds, the end result is likely to be index-like returns less the significantly greater fees and consistent under-performance over the long-term.

Assessment

While there may be participants who can handle the investment process, the previous discussion illustrates why it remains an open question whether educational efforts and typical menu choices provided by plan fiduciaries will be adequate from a regulatory and legal standpoint.

However, while it is unreasonable for participants to select the single best manager, it is reasonable for trustees to choose managers by defining investment policy and objectives that focus on characteristics like broad asset classes. 

And; do you think that by creating an investment menu that removes soft, overlapping, and largely qualitative distinctions such as style; plan sponsors can take a significant step toward mitigating the potential for participant confusion that inevitably could lead to litigation?

Conclusion

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