Fiduciary Standards

Staying on Top of a Changing Industry

Financial advisors constantly grapple with new laws and regulatory changes. And for prospective investors searching for a good advisor, the best question to ask is: How do you keep up?

"Each year there’s new laws we have to learn as advisors,” said Michael B. Keeler, CFP®, AIF®, NSSA®, CLTC, president and chief executive officer of Peak Financial Solutions. “I don’t think all financial advisors spend the time and effort staying up-to-date on everything, and that’s something clients really need to watch out for.”

Peak Financial Solutions, based in Las Vegas, provides what it describes as Gold Medal Services in investment portfolio stewardship, tax reduction planning, retirement planning, and family wealth planning. The firm does not require a minimum to invest with the caveat that clients with smaller asset bases need to contribute funds each month, Keeler said.

Keeler said that keeping up with complex industry changes is a difficult task, and it requires considerable effort. The U.S. financial industry has several governing bodies, each overseeing different types of advisors, and this can confuse clients, many of whom probably don’t even know the difference between a certified financial planner and a stockbroker. Keeler noted that he had traveled to several countries and observed that China, Australia, and India all use one government body to regulate the entire industry, something he described as a “huge advantage” because it protects the average consumer from being sold a product they never intended to buy.

The recent debate at home over the Department of Labor’s (DOL) “fiduciary rule” was another over-complication, Keeler said.

“It really bothered me that the DOL was getting into the business,” Keeler told “Advisors Magazine” during a recent interview. “Let’s do everything through the SEC. I think it’d be great if we could get insurance and everything under one organization so that we’re all playing by the same rules. The average investor doesn’t understand that this guy’s going to do things one way, and I’m going to do things another way because I’m securities-registered and that guy’s insurance-licensed.”

Peak Financial Solutions is a fiduciary based firm, meaning that clients’ best interests come before the bottom line. Keeler works to educate clients in language they can understand, and develops custom solutions to help them work towards their unique financial goals.

“One of the big enemies in this industry is procrastination. By avoiding something, you’re not going to make it go away,” Keeler said, adding that he pushes clients to begin sorting out their financial priorities sooner rather than later. Teaching clients how their money works also is vital, and explaining something 100 times, if needed, is what he will do to make sure investors understand what’s going on.

An example of how overwhelming finances can be are 401(k) prospectuses – they’re not written for the consumer, they’re written for legal industry with documents running dozens of pages using impenetrable jargon.

“There’s no way that somebody’s going to sit there and read a 50-page document in small type written by lawyers for lawyers, it’s just not what the average person understands,” Keeler said. “I’d like to see a simplified document, a one-pager.”

Breaking down these complicated documents is one way Keeler helps his clients. Continually learning more about the industry, even with 17 years of experience, is another way – he’s currently working on his Certified Wealth Strategist designation, for example.

Keeler’s adaptability and focus on getting ahead of industry developments helps Peak Financial Solutions deliver nuanced solutions to clients.

“There is no one size fits all in this industry,” Keeler said. “What's good for one person isn’t what’s necessarily good for another.”

For more information on Peak Financial Solutions, visit: peakfinancialsolutions.com

 

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