Back in 2016, the Department of Labor issued a regulation that would have made all people who give investment advice (or advice about whether to take a lump sum payment) fiduciaries under federal law. But that regulation was later overturned.
The Securities Exchange Commission recently issued its own weaker rules requiring registered investment advisors to maintain certain fiduciary obligations when dispensing advice. But the rules applicable to investment advice given by certain broker/dealers are much weaker and do not require them to put your interest first.
Given the existence of weak legal protections for investors, it’s important to remember that when you seek investment advice you must make sure you are getting it from someone who is competent and isn’t putting their interests first. You should always ask prospective advisers to give you assurance in writing that the advice they offer will be in your best interest – not theirs.
One way to ensure this is to demand that any advisor you use commit to and sign the fiduciary pledge created by the Committee for the Fiduciary Standard. Acquiring such protection could prevent you from paying unreasonably high fees or from unwittingly being steered into investment strategies designed primarily to benefit an adviser who has a potential conflict of interest.