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TD Ameritrade, Inc. is one of the firms that we use to custody our client assets. TD Ameritrade, Tobias Financial Advisors, and the other entities named are separate and unaffiliated firms, and are not responsible for each other’s services or policies. TD Ameritrade does not endorse or recommend any advisor and the use of the TD Ameritrade logo does not represent the endorsement or recommendation of any advisor. Brokerage services provided by TD Ameritrade Institutional, Division of TD Ameritrade, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. TD Ameritrade is a trademark jointly owned by TD Ameritrade IP Company, Inc. and The Toronto-Dominion Bank. Used with permission.

PLEASE NOTE: This information is being provided strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of the web-sites provided here, you are leaving this site, with the exception of Tobias Financial Advisors. Our company makes no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. Nor is the company liable for any direct or indirect technical or system issues or any consequences arising out of your access to or your use of third-party technologies, sites, information and programs made available through this site. When you access one of these sites, you are leaving Tobias Financial Advisors’ Website and assume total responsibility and risk for your use of the site to which you are linking.

Fiduciary Standard Best Practices: A Professional Code of Conduct

The Institute for the Fiduciary Standard’s Real Fiduciary™ Practices describe how conscientious and competent advisors serve clients today. The practices reflect principles that underlie fiduciary law and focus on the three overriding advisory duties of Loyalty, Due Care and Utmost Good Faith. The Institute defines these terms as follows: Loyalty means steadfast and uncompromising devotion to a client’s best interest. Due care means following a prudent process and applying the necessary professional skills as evidenced by appropriate education, expertise and experience. Utmost good faith means acting at all times with honesty, integrity and transparency. Many advisors and brokers talk like a fiduciary, though relatively few act like one. These Real Fiduciary™ Practices provide guidance for advisors. They also help investors distinguish advisors who work for and are paid only by clients—from sales representatives who work for and are paid by firms to distribute products. That is, these practices help separate brokers and advisors who merely talk like a fiduciary from advisors who really act like one. Real Fiduciary™ Advisors stand apart because they:
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DEMONSTRATE LOYALTY
  • Act as a fiduciary at all times. Affirm this commitment to the client in writing. Affirm that the fiduciary standard under common law and the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (and when applicable, ERISA) governs all professional advisory client relationships at all times at both the advisor and the firm level.
  • Decline any sales-related compensation. Accept compensation that is paid by the client in the form of a percentage of assets under management, retainers, fixed fees or hourly fees. Decline any compensation associated with transactions and product sales such as commissions, shelf space payments and 12b-1 fees.
  • Avoid conflicts of interest. Understand that a conflict of interest occurs when the interests of the advisor or the advisor’s firm interfere with the advisor’s fiduciary duties to clients. A conflict is material when it could reasonably be deemed to affect how a client who understands the conflict decides to act. Material conflicts are inherently harmful. Eliminating or avoiding these conflicts when possible has been the cornerstone of fiduciary law for centuries.
  • Mitigate unavoidable conflicts. Mitigating material conflicts means, at minimum, receiving appropriate client consent before executing the recommendation. The advisor will: 
    • Explain the conflict in sufficient detail, both orally and in writing, so the client fully understands the conflict. Disclosure of conflicts of interest is a well-established obligation of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and a key requirement of Form ADV. 
    • Ensure that the client understands the implications of the conflict. This includes the relative merits of options not recommended by the advisor and any additional compensation that may be earned by the advisor. 
    • Receive informed, intelligent and independent consent from the client in writing before any advice is implemented.
    • Document and be prepared to demonstrate that the conflicted advice remains reasonable and fair and consistent with the client’s best interest.
ACT WITH DUE CARE
  • Maintain professional knowledge and competence. Demonstrate baseline competence by holding a recognized designation which requires significant study and knowledge, experience and ongoing continuing education requirements, such as the CFP®, CPA/PFS or CFA designations. Decline to provide advice, regardless of its scope, unless the advisor possesses the appropriate expertise.
  • Explain agreements and disclosures clearly and truthfully, both orally and in writing. Put all important client agreements and disclosures in writing. Do not make oral or written statements that are misleading. Client understanding of the advisor’s actions is important in relationships of trust and confidence.
  • Establish and document a reasonable basis for advice. Document relevant facts and circumstances supporting the advisor’s advice in a manner that is appropriate for the scope and nature of the client engagement and for the client’s goals and overall circumstances. Upon client request, provide a brief summary written in plain language of each recommendation and its respective reasonable basis. Having a “reasonable basis” for investment advice is a well-established obligation of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.
  • Follow and document a prudent due diligence process for rendering investment advice. Research and analyze investment vehicles in a responsible manner. Use an investment policy statement that is based on a clear understanding of the client’s circumstances and preferences and that clearly specifies assumptions regarding objectives, risk, and performance. Report performance based on data supplied by an independent third party and calculated using industry standard methods.
ACT IN UTMOST GOOD FAITH
  • Decline gifts or entertainment or other benefits unless minimal in value, occasional in frequency, and consistent with the advisory firm’s gift and vendor relation policies. Decline any gifts or third-party compensation or other benefits received by the advisor or the advisor’s firm that could impair advisor objectivity. Upon request, provide the firm’s policy on gifts and entertainment. Explain clearly, both orally and in writing, any ongoing benefits the advisor or the advisor’s firm receives from other entities.
  • Charge reasonable fees and incur reasonable investment costs. Disclose and fully explain. Provide in writing at the outset of the advisory relationship, and upon request throughout the client engagement, a good faith description and estimate of anticipated fees, investment costs and tax implications. Have procedures to check that client expenses are reasonable. Be aware that controlling investment expenses does not require the least expensive alternative; it does require a reasonable basis for selecting a more expensive alternative.

 Frequently Asked Questions

Why use a Financial Advisor?

Investing, when done properly, is a long term commitment requiring research and measured analysis. Emotions must be kept level when approaching the investing arena. Many fortunes have been destroyed by decisions made in a moment of fear or an instant of fearlessness. A financial advisor is trained to maneuver with deliberation through the increasingly complex financial markets with their client’s financial plan and well-being in mind.

Why should I choose a fee-only advisor?

As a fee-only investment manager, Tobias Financial Advisors is beholden to no one other than our clients. Totally independent from outside sources; our only compensation comes from our clients. “Fee-only” means that we receive no other compensation other than the fee you pay; we do not sell products. This arrangement ensures that our recommendations are made with your best interests at heart!

What is the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification?

The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification is a professional certification (no federal or state law or regulation requires financial planners to hold CFP® certification) that represents a high level of professional education which requires passing a rigorous examination with 89 financial and legal topics, fulfilling experience and education metrics, and acting in an ethical manner.

What is a Registered Investment Advisor?

A Registered Investment Advisor is a firm that is registered with the state in which it does business, or with the Securities Exchange Commission, to provide investment advice. A Registered Investment Advisor is held to a Fiduciary Standard, meaning they are expected to act in the best interest of their client at all times. As fiduciaries, an advisor must employ a policy of full disclosure with their clients to help avoid potential conflicts of interest. As a fee-only investment advisor, Tobias Financial Advisors removes potential conflict by accepting compensation only in the form of client fees.

What Is The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Credential?

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is a professional credential offered by the CFA Institute to investment and financial professionals. A candidate who successfully completes the program becomes a “CFA charterholder”.   To earn the CFA charter, a candidate must pass three six-hour exams and have at least four years of qualified professional investment experience.  The CFA exams are widely considered to be extremely difficult and the CFA Institute reports that successful candidates take an average of four years to complete the process.

Matt Saneholtz, of Tobias Financial Advisors, has earned the right to use the CFA designation, which illustrates he is trained to lead the investment profession by promoting the highest standards of ethics, education, and professional excellence for the ultimate benefit of society.

What Is The Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) Credential?

Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) is a specialty credential awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to CPAs who specialize in helping individuals plan all aspects of their wealth. Every three years, PFS professionals must complete 60 hours of continuing professional education. PFS applicants study estate planning, retirement planning, investing, insurance, and other areas of personal financial planning. To become a PFS, candidates must be active members of the AICPA, have at least three years of financial planning experience, meet all the requirements for being a CPA, receive professional recommendations, and pass a comprehensive written exam.

Ben Tobias and Marianela Collado of Tobias Financial Advisors have earned the right to use the CPA/PFS credential, which illustrates their experience and objectivity as advisors, with the powerful combination of extensive tax expertise and comprehensive knowledge of financial planning.

Who will I work with at Tobias Financial Advisors?

Tobias Financial Advisors employs a proactive team approach, which means that any of our seasoned financial planning and investment management experts will be meeting with you and will be available to answer your questions and address any of your concerns.  You may, of course, develop a relationship with one senior member and we will do our best to keep that consistent throughout.

As a client, will my children be able to use the Tobias Financial Advisory services as well?

Yes, we believe that it is important and crucial to financial success for the entire family to be involved.  In many cases, our clients have children who are just finishing college or starting out in their careers, and we welcome the opportunity to offer coaching and guidance with the many financial decisions they need to make.  This offer may include assistance with employer benefits, budgeting, establishing retirement accounts, tax planning, etc.

Why use our firm in lieu of a larger, institutional advisory firm?

Tobias Financial Advisors provides an advisory relationship that exudes the “personal” touch. We are a boutique firm that keeps in close touch with our clients. Our financial advisors get to know our clients as individuals and not just “accounts.” This personal interest creates a level of service which we believe cannot be matched by the larger financial companies and banks.

Is my private information confidential & safe with Tobias Financial Advisors?

Tobias Financial Advisors maintains strict guidelines for the confidentiality of personal client information. Though we are a “paperless” office, what minimal physical records we maintain are kept under secure conditions. We implement several layers of safeguards for both hard and soft copy records including encryption, firewalls, employee and third party confidentiality agreements and the delegation of an in-house Compliance Officer, as well as an independent Compliance Firm.

Who does Tobias Financial Advisors use as custodian for my assets? Are my funds safe?

The primary custodian used by Tobias Financial Advisors is TD Ameritrade, a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC); securities in each of your (separate) accounts are protected up to $500,000 per account, including coverage for up to $250,000 in cash.

TD Ameritrade also provides additional coverage. This supplemental coverage provides $149.5 million of coverage for each client; this coverage limits coverage on cash in the account to an additional $900,000. Each client is limited to a combined return of $150 million from a Trustee, SIPC or other supplemental insurance. TD Ameritrade has an aggregate total coverage of $250 million. This coverage provides you with protection against brokerage insolvency.

To be clear, SIPC does not protect your investment principal from market volatility; however, it does provide protection in the event the custodian of record – TD Ameritrade – goes out of business. For more information, go to http://www.sipc.org/

What is a fiduciary duty?

As a Registered Investment Advisor, we have a fiduciary obligation to act at all times in the best interest of our clients. This is the highest duty of loyalty, trust and care established by law.

Does your firm pick individual stocks and bonds?

Typically not. We employ a mix of passive investments such as Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and actively managed mutual funds to build a broadly diversified portfolio designed to withstand market volatility and meet your financial goals.