Compared to a similar survey last year, Financial Engines
finds Americans “have a slightly better understanding of the difference between
a financial adviser who is a fiduciary and one who is not.” Specifically, 21% say
they understand the difference today, compared to 18% a year ago.
“However, many Americans still don’t know how to tell if an
adviser is a fiduciary,” Financial Engines warns. “Only 50% of investors who
work with a financial adviser are certain that their adviser is a fiduciary,
while 38% don’t know if their adviser is a fiduciary or not.”
Christopher Jones, chief investment officer at Financial
Engines, warns the “bar is rising.”
“Once people understand the benefits of working with a
fiduciary, they want one on their side,” he says. “Consumers want to know that
they can trust their financial advisers. According to the survey, if investors
discovered their financial adviser was not a fiduciary, many say they would
The Financial Engines data shows only 12% of investors feel
they would continue working with the same adviser in the same capacity, after learning
the adviser is not in fact a fiduciary.
Speaking frankly, Jones suggest financial firms and advisers
“often parse their words carefully to give the appearance of being a fiduciary,
even when they are not … While the debate over the conflict of interest rule
has raised consumer awareness about this important standard, investors must
still be careful to demand advisors that act in the sole best interests of
Additional results from the survey, along with other research
reports, are available at https://financialengines.com/workplace/resources.