10 Reasons Why We Choose to be a Fee-Only Financial Advisory Firm

Trailhead Planners LLC |

The Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule is officially dead after a key deadline recently passed without action.  Of course, once the big banks, insurance companies, and brokerages got ahold of the bill, it had been significantly watered down anyways.  For example, many of these companies argued that their advisors (who hold the title financial advisor and market themselves, as such) aren’t actually financial advisors from a technical standpoint, but salespeople.  Therefore, they would not be beholden to any fiduciary rule!!!

My guess is you feel just as outraged reading this as I feel writing it, but it’s true.  So next time you see a commercial sponsored by a national brokerage company about the high quality of their financial advice, trust that they aren’t talking about themselves – they are, as they admitted in legal documents, just salespeople. 

What they are actually talking about are fee-only financial advisory firms like Trailhead Planners, or our incredible, and highly-qualified peers at organizations like NAPFA and XYPN, both of which we are proud members of.   

Having a fiduciary standard in the financial industry makes sense, and it’s the reason why our financial planners at Trailhead Planners have signed multiple fiduciary oaths to always hold our clients’ best interests before our own. 

I should note that other countries, like Australia and the U.K., have rolled out a universal fiduciary standard, and we believe this change is inevitable in the U.S., as well.  However, it’s certainly been put on the back-burner for now – as many of us presumed would happen after President Trump’s election given his anti-regulatory stance on the financial industry.

However, as ever, there are things we can control.  

For us, that means we choose to be fee-only financial advisers beholden to the fiduciary standard.  Here's why: 

10 Reasons Why We Choose to be a Fee-Only Financial Planning Firm

  1. We value transparency and believe the fee-only fee structure is the most transparent and easily understood model available. 
  2. We value objectivity and we believe selling products like insurance or annuities for commission challenges an advisor’s objectivity.   
  3. We believe clients don’t need ‘products’ as much as they desire expert and ongoing advice.  
  4. We believe incentives matter and we wanted to ensure we were incentivized to sit on the same side of the table as our clients, offering guidance on the options most suitable for the client and their bottom-line, not our own.
  5. We wanted to minimize our conflicts of interest as much as possible.
    1. We’ve heard too many horror stories about commission-based products like REITs, MLPs, Insurance, and Annuities being pushed on unwitting consumers only to put the client in financial straits later down the road even as the adviser enjoys his commission.
    2. We have unwound several these terrible deals over the years, and if you, or someone you know, need some help with something like this please let us know.     
  6. We believe clients are best served working with a financial advisor who advises on, but does not sell insurance
    1. As my dad always told me about life insurance salesmen, “Ask a life insurance salesman any question and the answer is always the same.  Buy more life insurance.”  Fee-only financial advisors obviously think differently.
  7. We are not salespeople, but highly-trained and experienced financial planning professionals.
  8. We were able to join the XY Planning Network (XYPN) which demands its advisors be fee-only and sign a fiduciary oath.   XYPN is an incredible organization that supports fee-only financial advisors, like us, and the clients they serve.
  9. We were able to join NAPFA.  We have always viewed NAPFA advisors as the pinnacle of our industry, and we are honored to be counted within their ranks.
  10. We believe 'fee-only' is an important differentiator and the wave of the future. 

Looking for a fee-only financial advisor like Trailhead Planners?  Let's Chat! Or... 

3 Places to find fee-only financial advisors who adhere to the fiduciary standard: