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Do Right Always. Full Stop.

Do Right Always. Full Stop.

| April 24, 2024

Another late night here at Green Retirement, Inc. as I am up reading the Department of Labor's new Fiduciary Rule. An excellent summary is provided by the National Association of Plan Advisors - It is easy to get bogged down in the details (ie, the Rule hasn't been updated in 50 years and the investing world has changed). One can debate whether the Rule is too broad or narrow in who it encompasses.

My guiding light though (same as it has been for 18 years running my practice; 34 years in the industry) is, "Do Right Always". Martin Luther King, Jr. stated it as, "The time is always right to do what is right". While he was referring to civil rights and the rights of people, his comments apply in the investment world as well. Always do right by your client or prospective client.

Over my decades in the industry, I have seen advisors tempted to do the wrong thing. They might offer a prospective or existing client an investment solution based on how much it pays them. The solution might be right for the prospective or existing client but I'd argue the advisor's focus is misplaced. I believe in beginning and ending with client needs. Let that be your guiding light.

And yes, there are advisors who completely ignore the prospective or existing client. One advisor I am familiar with offers the exact same investment solution to every prospective client who comes into his office. How is that even possible? Are all of his prospective clients uniform in their needs, time horizon, financial risk appetite, and level of investment understanding and sophistication? That seems unlikely in my opinion.

Let me end this short missive with an example from 2006. I was talking with a prospective client about his needs and my services. As a new practitioner, I was impressed and my eyes went wide when he mentioned how much he would invest with me and how much I could make in commissions. The trouble was he wanted to trade in the overseas markets. The more I thought about my back office systems, the hours I would be working, etc., I realized there were better, more cost-effective channels that would serve his needs. He was surprised when I told him this and that Green Retirement, Inc. would not be a good fit.

When I consider taking on a new client, I evaluate the client in terms of the above needs and whether I can help them. I also think about whether I will be happy to see their name on my office line's caller ID. Think of it this way - I measure my success at Green Retirement partly by how many people I have helped even if helping means referring them to someone else.

Do Right Always. Full stop. There is no middle ground. Don't equivocate. Do Right Always in all aspects of life. You will be happier and will be able to sleep at night knowing that you did the right thing. That is the Fiduciary Rule.