When a new client asked Charles Ryan to sign a template of a fiduciary oath she’d pulled off the internet two years ago, the certified financial planner happily obliged without blinking an eye.

“I'm absolutely all for anything that helps move the needle forward a little bit more towards the universal fiduciary standard,” Ryan told Financial Advisor magazine.

That includes being a Best Practices Advisor.

“I encourage potential clients who cold call me by phone to shop around,” said Ryan, whose advisory practice, Atlantic Financial Planning, is headquartered in Annapolis, Md. “I explain that there's a difference between a fiduciary standard and a suitability standard and to ensure that they ask financial advisors which standard they're working under.”

Ryan is among 25 financial advisors who took part in the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard’s first class of Best Practices Advisors. The group was unveiled last Thursday March 23 at Envestnet offices on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. “The requirements are very straightforward and they're very serious,” said  Knut A. Rostad, founder and president of the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard.

“There is no classroom participation. Best Practices Advisors agree to post the best practices on their website and tell their prospective and current clients that this is how they do business.”

Rostad lead the unveiling along with Brian Hamburger, CEO of MarketCounsel, and personal finance journalist Jane Bryant Quinn.

“Fiduciaries disclose all fees including the fees associated with investment recommendations,” Quinn said. “They should have few or no conflicts. For any unavoidable conflicts, they should disclose it in full and explain what it means.”

Vanguard founder John C. Bogle participated in the session by phone.

“Our advisory industry is so filled with disclosures that for an ordinary investor it's often impossible to know what they mean. So we have tried to democratize access to understanding being a fiduciary so that an investor doesn't need to hire an attorney for interpretation,” said Rostad.

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