A portfolio manager for National Bank Financial, Paul Vorstadt makes sure to keep his clients informed about the ups and downs of financial markets. Additionally, Paul Vorstadt encourages his clients to ask questions of their financial planners rather than trusting them implicitly. Significant differences exist between planners, with two major philosophies dominating within their ranks.
Fiduciary planners are legally required to place the client’s interests ahead of their own and their firm’s. They must exercise prudence in making their recommendations and must disclose important aspects of any financial entities. They must have no conflicts of interest. If such conflicts are unavoidable, they must manage them in the client’s best interest.
Suitability planning, by contrast, maintains that investment decisions must only be suitable to the client’s particular situation. Regulatory authorities mandate that brokers have a “reasonable basis” for their decisions.
Investors should ask several questions of their advisors. For example, they should always ask whether the advisor is fiduciary, making decisions in the investor’s best interest, or whether the advisor believes in suitability instead. They should ask whether the advisor will reveal all necessary facts about financial products, such as conflicts of interest. Finally, investors should ask in advance what fees and expenses will apply to their account.
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