ASPPA has many “sister” organizations, most of whom share similar values, principles and the overall mission – the NTSAA is the exception – it doesn’t really fit within ASPPA (in my opinion). A few days I wrote a piece urging ASPPA/NTSAA to embrace a disclosure model for disclosing fiduciary status (read here). In going through one of the sister organizations, NAPA – the National Association of Plan Advisor, I found their “Core Principles” (interestingly enough, I could not find core principles for NTSAA). One principle in particular stuck out:
NAPA members may serve as either fiduciaries or non-fiduciaries, but are committed to clearly disclosing their fiduciary or non-fiduciary status to their ERISA retirement plan clients.
What struck me about this first is that ASPPA/NAPA was careful to insert “ERISA” as a modifier to “retirement plan clients”. I’m convinced this modifier would not have been included if NTSAA was not part of ASPPA. The real question is why this principle only applies to ERISA retirement plan clients and not all retirement plan clients. Putting that aside for a minute, my whole disclosure piece the other day was partially espousing this principle. If an advisor gives advice they should be fiduciaries, if they are selling products they should disclose they are not fiduciaries and not use monikers like “financial advisor” or “planner” or “consultant”.
It seems to me that if this principle is good for NAPA, it should be good for NTSAA. Remove the term ERISA and apply to both organizations.
Scott Dauenhauer CFP, MSFP, AIF