Investors not only don't know whether their financial advisors are fiduciaries, they're not even sure what a fiduciary is.

That's according to a white paper from consultancy firm Spectrem, which found that, despite indicating they understand the definition of fiduciary, when asked to define it, many didn't define it as an ethical or legal relationship.

In addition, the percentage of those saying they understood the term dropped as net worth decreased. So, while 89 percent of UHNW households (those with more than $5 million in net worth) and 75 percent of millionaires (those with $1 million–$5 million in net worth) said they understood the term fiduciary, just 57 percent of mass affluent respondents (households with $100,000 to $1 million in net worth) said they knew what it was.

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