Five Seasons Financial Planning is a Fee-Only investment advisory firm. The Fee-Only business model minimizes conflicts of interest, and so provides you with peace of mind in the knowledge that you are receiving unbiased financial advice. And as a registered investment advisory firm, we (unlike insurance salespeople and employees of broker/dealer firms) have an unconditional "fiduciary obligation" to our clients, a legal duty to place your financial interests above and beyond our own.
In my opinion, consumers of financial advisory services are best served by a Fee-Only financial advisor with a fiduciary duty to clients. But don't take my word for it. Here's what experts in the financial world have to say about finding an objective financial advisor:
Luis Aguilar, former SEC Commissioner ~ "It's fair to say that the highest standard [applied to the financial advisory industry] is that of fiduciary."
Glenn Ruffenach, Wall Street Journal ~ "I know I want a "fee-only" adviser and not a "fee-based" adviser. (There's a big difference; the former tends to have fees that are easier to understand.) And I know I want an adviser who acts as my "fiduciary," who puts my financial interests ahead of his or her firm's."
"(All financial advisers are not created equal: certified financial planners, brokers, insurance agents and "financial counselors" can have very different obligations and agendas. Failing to understand these distinctions is asking for trouble.)"
William Bernstein from The Four Pillars of Investing ~ “The best, and only, way to make sure that you and your advisor are on the same team is to make sure that he is Fee-Only, that is, that he receives no remuneration from any other source besides you. Otherwise you will wind up paying, and paying, and paying, and paying...”
John Bogle, founder and ex-CEO of Vanguard in testimony before Congress ~ "Surely it should be clear to clients whether they are relying on a trained investment professional, paid solely through fully disclosed fees, or a sales rep who sell the products and services of the company he represents, whether life insurance, annuities, mutual funds, or anything else."
Terri Cullen, Wall Street Journal ~ “As for finding a planner, one caution: Don't hire a salesperson. Investment brokers, life-insurance and variable-annuity agents, and other so-called financial advisers who work for, or are paid on commission by, financial-services companies are there to sell product. Your best interests come second to their bottom lines. Instead, seek out an objective fee-only financial planner ... "
Marshall Loeb, CBS MarketWatch ~ The public should demand more fee-only planners, says personal finance writer, Marshall Loeb. “To eliminate the conflicts of interest that arise from commissions, it’s a good idea to look for a fee-only planner,” says Loeb.
“It’s up to the public to demand more planners who have no financial incentive to recommend one product over another,” says Joel Framson, chairman-elect of the American Institute of CPAs Personal Financial Planning Executive Committee. “…firms that sell products can never be a true fiduciary to the client,” said Framson. Consumers “need to demand the true fee-only kind of approach with compensation that is not tied to any commissions or referral fees.”
Jonathan Clements, Wall Street Journal ~ “I know this will garner me a truckload of hate mail. But let’s be blunt: You never want to pay a broker or financial planner with commissions. If you go that route, the adviser has a huge incentive to stick you in products that generate the fattest commissions and to cajole you into buying and selling, because that’s how the adviser makes the most money.”