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What Should (and will be) Required from a Financial Advisor

signServing as a full-service financial planning and wealth management team, we may take for granted all advisors service and review their clients appropriately, and that clients understand what they are reviewing for (so much more than simply account performance).

With the Department of Labor Rule relating to fiduciary standards over retirement accounts becoming effective in April 2017, firms will be required to come into line with what is expected of a true fiduciary and financial advisor. Having two CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) professionals on our team, we are already held to the fiduciary standard, by abiding by the CFP® Board’s Code of Ethics, Professional Responsibility, and Rules of Conduct.

Moving forward, advisors will need to prove to compliance the four major areas in which they effectively manage qualified assets. These areas include:

  1. Identifying the client’s Investment Objective, then defining what that means.

We begin meetings with prospects (as well as annual client review meetings) by assessing their needs and goals. We look at how their situation would change should a spouse pass away, should they donate more to charity, and whatever potential scenarios might arise. Then, we determine and explain what investment decisions those scenarios drive.

  1. Aligning all investments in each IRA to meet the Investment Objective.

Every year (and often more frequently), we meet with each client to assess changes in their needs and goals, as well as review their entire portfolio. When investment changes are needed, we have a recommendation meeting in which our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals go over the investment, why the change is needed, and how implementing that change can impact the client’s taxes, projected cash flow, and a plethora of things. We continually align each client’s financial plan with their ever-changing life and investment objective.

  1. Documenting advice given.

At Phillips Financial, our team has a system to keep pertinent records. This includes annual reviews, investment recommendations, notes from client meetings, when clients request funds for a down payment, when they make a beneficiary change, etc. This is not solely to comply with regulations, but to also provide the best service possible (at a concierge level).

Five years down the road, when you wonder why you chose to file Social Security at a certain age, we will look back and show you the advice we provided and why you made the decision you did. When a client passes away and their children come to us for understanding of their assets (which the children previously knew nothing of), we feel confident in explaining the parent’s wishes, as well as helping to provide proof of those intentions.

  1. Reviewing every IRA, then starting the process over again (see 1–3 above).

Reviewing accounts solely for performance does not constitute a financial plan. We regularly review clients’ comprehensive financial plans (for account performance, goals, mitigating unforeseen circumstances, and risk tolerance). We feel providing appropriate advice requires this. How can we advise you the best way to accomplish your financial goals, if we don’t understand every aspect of what might affect your finances?


The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Lynn Phillips-Gaines and not necessarily those of Raymond James. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected. Every investor’s situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.