When it comes to demonstrating and maintaining a fiduciary duty, financial professionals who have the Accredited Investment Fiduciary, or AIF, credentials have a little more to offer. What is an AIF, and how could you benefit from one?
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From US News, here’s what an Accredited Investment Fiduciary is and does for you:
This professional designation prepares investment professionals to act as fiduciaries – and work in the clients’ best interests – when doing their jobs.
Currently, not all investment advisors have a fiduciary education or duty, says Matthew Eickman, an AIF and national retirement practice leader at Qualified Plan Advisors. “On the one hand, that’s understandable,” he says. “Fiduciary responsibilities traditionally have not been a big part of the securities registration or insurance licensure processes.” But on the other hand, it’s simply not good enough.
With the Securities and Exchange Commission, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and Department of Labor “exponentially increasing the focus on fiduciaries, it’s become critically important for advisors to have a higher standard than the bare minimum,” Eickman says. “Pursuing and retaining the AIF designation is a fundamental step toward elevating those standards and better positioning an advisor to better care for his or her clients’ interests.”
Here’s what advisors should understand about the Accredited Investment Fiduciary certification.
What Is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary, or AIF, Certification?
The AIF designation is intended to demonstrate that the professionals responsible for managing others’ investments or giving advice on those investments understand and uphold their fiduciary duty. Getting your AIF designation shows you’re not just another advisor holding herself out as a fiduciary.
The most critical aspect of an AIF certification is the extra commitment it demonstrates, Eickman says. “Investors are better off working with a fiduciary. They are best off when that fiduciary takes his or her duties seriously.”
What Is the Fiduciary Duty?
The fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care in the financial industry. It means you have the power and responsibility to act for someone else in situations requiring total trust, good faith and honesty.
Having a fiduciary duty to your clients means you must act in your client’s best interest at all times, even if doing so is against your own best interest. A fiduciary can only recommend an investment option or strategy if it is the best option available. This is distinct from advisors who work under the suitability standard, which requires that they only ensure an investment is “suitable” for the investor before recommending it.
What Does an AIF Do?
The majority of AIF designees are financial professionals who work for Registered Investments Advisory, or RIA, firms, broker-dealers or banks, Faustino says. “Their day-to-day responsibilities typically involve supporting wealth, retirement plan and foundation or endowment clients with planning and investment needs using fiduciary practices.”
If you’re ready to work with an AIF…
Schedule a free consultation with us at Keel and Long today! We’re happy to talk more about our responsibilities as an Accredited Investment Fiduciary with you. Let us know how we can help!