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In many cases, the end of the year gives you time to step back and take stock of the last 12 months. This is when many of us take a hard look at what worked and what did not, complete performance reviews, and formulate plans for the coming year. For me, it is all of those things plus a time when I u...
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What Investors Really Care About: Duty, Safeguards, and Professionalism
The Best Registered Investment Advisors Emphasize Their Standard of Care When Communicating With Clients and Prospects, Say Advizent Founders, Charles Goldman and Steven Lockshin

NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwire) -- 11/08/12 -- Independent financial advisors need a simpler, more straightforward way to talk to investors about what makes them different from other providers of financial advice, say the founders of Advizent, a membership organization of registered investment advisors committed to helping investors find advisory firms that adhere to the highest standards.

"The advisory business would be well served by more clearly articulating a core set of attributes that define firms that truly put their clients' interests first. In pursuit of this objective, many of the best advisory firms will soon gather together to develop exacting ethical guidelines and clear, concise objective standards of competence," says Advizent co-founder, Steven Lockshin.

Advizent is comprised of members firms willing to operate at the highest ethical and fiduciary standard and be frequently assessed according to these stringent Standards of Excellence. The organization's Independent Standards Board is developing requirements in areas including compensation and financial conflicts, transparency and simplified disclosure, and operational safeguards to protect clients and their assets.

"Research has shown that investors are confused by terms like 'fiduciary' and 'suitability' and a range of other industry jargon. Many do not understand the various credentials of the industry and therefore assign little value to the letters after an advisor's name. In a very competitive industry, advisors need to find a simple way to connect with investors on the issues that consumers care most about - duty, safety of assets, and professionalism," says Lockshin.

Lockshin and Goldman maintain that by highlighting for clients three unique features of truly valuable independent advisory relationships, advisors can distinguish themselves from the competition and reach investors with a compelling message that wins business. Simply defined, the features are:

1. Duty: Advisors put clients' interests first--always. No financial interest or compensation will compromise the advisor's commitment to the client's best interests.

2. Safeguards: Advisors protect clients' money and privacy through stringent procedures and safeguards.

3. Professionalism: Advisors run their businesses with the highest professional standards, including education, training, accreditation, licensing, and all other aspects of sound business management. These measures, if successfully executed, should ensure that the firm has the strength, stability and capability to meet client expectations and needs.

Accelerating growth in a competitive market

Industry data from Cerulli Associates shows that independent advisors are gaining market share of U.S. consumers' investable assets--RIAs are expected to reach 20% market share by 2013. Yet, research from TD Ameritrade, a major custodian, reveals that 84% of U.S. consumers do not know what an RIA is. Currently investors have placed $12 trillion under the management of financial professionals, and in a market with this much opportunity, Lockshin and Goldman believe that independent advisors need to make a stronger, clearer case for why they are the right choice for investors. More importantly, investors deserve to be treated as professionally and ethically as we all expect to be treated by our surgeons.

"While regulators and industry insiders debate words like 'fiduciary' and 'suitability' or principle versus rules based standards, investors are left struggling to understand who is on truly their side," says Advizent co-founder, Charles Goldman. "Those issues are important to the industry overall, but if advisors get mired in too much technical detail, their message to consumers will be lost. What investors want to know is, 'Who is on my side, and how can I be sure?' That is why advisors should focus broadly on standards of care in simple language, not buried in pages upon pages of disclosures. It is a simple concept that investors can understand, relate to, and value."

About Advizent, LLC
Advizent is a membership organization of independent financial advisory firms whose mission is to empower consumers through education and referral resources, and by providing access to true independent advice. It does so by establishing objective Standards of Excellence created by Advizent and its independent board of consumer advocates and by identifying independent financial advisory firms willing to rigorously and consistently meet and be held to those Standards. Launched in 2012 by two financial services industry veterans, Advizent serves investors by helping them understand the benefits of working with an independent advisor and by providing access to top tier advisors committed to acting in their clients' best interest.

For more information, please visit www.advizent.com.

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