What is the Difference?


BROKER (the suitability standard):

  • Offers products for sale from a range of products carried by the company he or she represents

  • Is paid commissions calculated as a percentage of the amount of money invested into the product


ADVISOR (the fiduciary standard):

  • Offers “best advice” taking into account the needs of each individual client

  • Is paid a quarterly fee calculated as a percentage of the assets under advisement




The fiduciary standard requires advice to be provided in the best interests of the client including the disclosure of possible conflicts of interest. The suitability standard, however, states that a broker only needs to check the suitability of a prospective buyer, based primarily upon financial objectives, current income level and age, in order to complete a commissionable sale of a financial product. In a way, when a broker checks the suitability of a potential buyer, they are measuring how much financial product can be sold, not the needs of the investor. No disclosure of possible conflicts of interest is required.


If a company suggests the purchase of a proprietary product, such as a mutual fund or a bond, in the knowledge that they will receive a direct and upfront commission, can their financial suggestion be truly fair and beneficial to the client?


Safe Harbor Fiduciary believes the Fiduciary model of disclosure and transparency is always in the “best interests of the client.”