The GET READY! Financial Standards (Download: GET READY Financial Standards):
I believe that we are all responsible for our actions and have a responsibility to be educated. I also believe that advisors and financial services companies have a duty to act with integrity.
The Get Ready! Financial Standards are a playbook for the financial services industry to empower consumers. They provide common sense standards and set reasonable expectations for consumers. The Standards apply to all members of the financial services community including investment advisors, insurance agents, real estate agents, bank representatives, stockbrokers, mortgage broker and their respective companies.
The Get Ready! Financial Standards help financial consumers and members of the financial services industry get on the same page. Financial services companies that adhere to these Standards are dedicated to acting in the best interests of the consumer in a professional and fair manner. Click on each Standard to learn more:
- Your advisor should act in your best interest: to the best of their ability. Keep in mind that some advisors are fiduciaries while others are not. Insurance agents are also not fiduciaries and are agents of the Insurance Company. An advisor’s recommendation should not be influenced by commissions, bonuses or other incentives (cash or non-cash). An advisor should not collect a fee and a commission from the same client for the same work.
- You should receive customized service appropriate to your needs and goals: Your potential financial needs should be reviewed for each type of financial product under consideration and take into account any existing financial products. Any new recommended products must fill a need (gap in your financial plan). Any replacement of an existing financial product must be carefully reviewed with all pros and cons considered and presented in writing to the consumer.
- You have free choice: You have the right to receive multiple competitive options and to choose your advisor, product and company. Advisors, brokers, and companies must inform you in simple language of your options when you are opening a new financial account or buying a new financial product. Different types of products are available, and you have the right to know how each option affects your costs and for insurance, what your coverage would be in the event of a claim.
- You should receive an answer to any question: You’re the buyer, you have the right to ask any question and to receive an answer. The answer should fully and completely address your question and/or concern in full and be understandable. If you don’t understand something, you as the buyer have a duty to ask questions, and if you still don’t understand, you shouldn’t buy that financial product.
- You have the right to pay a fair price (or premium): Full disclosure on how product costs along with how insurance policy premiums are calculated and the impact of different risk factors specific to the type of coverage proposed. Also, information should be provided on factors that may reduce or increase costs in the future.
- You should always be informed: You should receive complete and accurate information in writing. Anything said or promised orally must be put in writing. This includes full information on any recommended financial service company including name, address, phone number and website.
- You should expect to be treated fairly and respectfully: you should receive an answer to any question. This includes the right not to be pressured If there is a deadline, the reason must be presented. If an offer is too good to be true, then it most likely is too good to be true. Advisors and Companies should keep information private and confidential.
- You have the right to full disclosure and updates: to receive notice of any changes in any of your financial products in easy to understand language along with any relevant changes in the marketplace. All relevant information and disclosure requirements (required or not) on an financial product must be presented to the client. To receive in writing a summary of all surrender charges, length of surrender period and any additional costs for early termination. In any replacement situation, all pros and cons must be submitted in writing.
- You should receive quality service and fair resolutions (including claims handling): to have your needs and goals to be reviewed at any time upon request, whenever a major event would have an impact coverage and at least annually. To determine if changes have occurred with the client or in the marketplace that would dictate changes to the financial products in place. For insurance, this includes prompt assistance on any claims.
- You should be able to change or cancel a financial service and to be notified of any change: In a simple and easy way without any unreasonable restrictions or hassles, subject to the terms and conditions of the financial product or service. You should also be notified of any changes in writing within a timely manner.
*Please note that as a consumer, it is also strongly advised that you provide complete and accurate information to your advisor and financial services company.
If you are a member of the financial services industry, you can download the GET READY Financial Standards seal (here) or click on the "I am a member of the Financial Services Industry" button above to learn more.