Until June 9, 2017, when key elements of the fiduciary rule went into effect, it was legal for financial advisers to steer their clients into retirement investments that maximized the advisers’ profits but drained away their clients’ nest eggs.
Putting their own financial interests ahead of their clients’ interests, these financial advisers too often recommended investments that paid hefty compensation to the adviser but exposed the investor to excessive costs, unnecessary risks, and subpar performance. This approach was very profitable for financial firms and advisers, but working Americans have been losing tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement income as a result. Advisers could legally to do this because many of them were not subject to a fiduciary duty. A fiduciary duty means “clients first and always.” Fiduciary advisers are required to act in the best interests of their clients regardless of any conflicts of interest they may have. And they are required to minimize, manage, and disclose any conflicts to ensure that they are always acting in the best interests of their clients, something that investors rightly expect from a financial adviser.