Knut Rostad, President of the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard, has organized a series of events starring several industry bigwigs to promote what he’s called “Fiduciary September.”
Rostad will employ his army of well-known fiduciary advocates to participate in webinars and even speak to Washington regulators. You’ll probably see the results of these events reported elsewhere on this and other news sites.
But this is an opinion column; thus, rather than mere reportage, it’s purpose, at least so the editors tells me, is to provide a call to action for readers. What more honorable a call than that of promoting the Fiduciary Standard and guaranteeing each and every investor benefit from a fair and level playing field no matter which financial pro they choose?
Rostad has given us all a chance to participate. By identifying a focused window of time, he has provided the entire industry with a chance to create a reverberating momentum.
The idea is simple: The more voices chiming in, the louder the noise. Maybe we can even get that noise-o-meter loud enough for the nation – and Washington in particular – to hear.
So, the question is: What are you doing this month to promote the Fiduciary Standard?
As part of Fiduciary September, FiduciaryNews.com is publishing a six part series exploring what the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard calls the six duties “essential to fiduciary conduct.” But, to show our seriousness to the cause, we’re going a step beyond our comfort zone. Nearly every article we’ve published to date has been aimed at the institutional audience. This includes plan sponsors, service providers and regulators.
This special “Fiduciary September to Remember” series targets a new and different audience (for us) – the retail investor. This can include anyone from a 401(k) participant to “the milkman in Kansas” as Knut phrases it.
Intrigued? You can taste a sample of this in our first article “How Walt Disney Showed Us What the Fiduciary Duty of Loyalty Means to Investors." Apparently, we titled this one right, given our intended audience. When a popular news aggregation site targeting institutional readers linked to this story, they removed the reference to Walt Disney from the title. Somehow I think the Walt Disney reference is probably the only thing in the title that would catch the attention of the milkman in Kansas.
One of the biggest issues facing fiduciary advocates is apathy. Nobody really cares above the difference between a fiduciary offering advice and a non-fiduciary offering advice. At least that’s what we’ve been told. The truth is, people do care, they just don’t know it. They certainly care when they buy a new car or other high-priced good. The popularity of consumer magazines offers testament to the average buyer’s need to act in his own best interests.
The real trouble with applying this same fiduciary standard to investment purchases lies not in investor apathy, but with investor illiteracy. And it’s not just the milkman in Kansas, its movies stars, politicians and, unfortunately, most of the popular press, too. I cite these centers of influence because, like it or not, that’s where most investors get their education.
But we can’t just blame these usual suspects, we must also indict the finance professors and the financial industry. They’ve covered the basic truths of investing with an overly complicated coat of mathematical and statistical formulae that leaves the average milkman flummoxed. (Oh how I enjoy every opportunity to use the word “flummox” in an article!)
So, perhaps to redeem our profession, it makes sense for each of us, in his own unique way, to embrace the power of Fiduciary September and promise to do one thing to bring greater understanding of this important issue to the people who can most benefit from.
I’ve stated what I intend to do.
Now it’s your turn.
Interested in learning more about this and other important topics confronting 401k fiduciaries? Explore Carosa’s new book 401(k) Fiduciary Solutions and discover how to solve those hidden traps that often pop up in 401k plans.