Answer: Probably not, if your adviser is a broker (AKA a “Financial Consultant” or “Financial Adviser” employed by a brokerage firm).
“Brokers, like those at the Toffels’ bank, are technically known as registered representatives. They are required only to recommend “suitable” investments based on an investor’s personal situation — their age, investment goals, time horizon and appetite for risk, among other things. “Suitable” may sound like an adequate standard, but there’s a hitch: It can mean that a broker isn’t required to put a customer’s interests before his own…“
“There are some specific situations when brokers must act as fiduciaries — for example, when they collect a percentage of total assets to manage an investment account, or when they are given full control of an investor’s account. But under current rules, a broker can take off his fiduciary hat and recommend merely “suitable” investments for the same customer’s other buckets of money…”
“It may be less confusing for consumers to simply pay for advice through “fee-only” independent financial planners who are fiduciaries.”
The Washington Post has also jumped on this confusion.
H/T: Mark Ukrainskyj on LinkedIn
Of course, the Wall Street Journal has covered this issue for a long time, so it is interesting to note the NYT and WaPo’s recent interest.