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Editor's pick: Stern advice: Even fiduciaries can give bad advice (Reuters)Blog added by Lauren McNitt on November 3, 2011
Lauren McNitt

Lauren McNitt

Denver, CO

Joined: September 08, 2010

My Company

The Madoffs are back in the news -- this time flogging books instead of scam investments.

Still, just seeing Ruth Madoff and her husband, Bernie, on television are reminders to already-nervous investors that it can be very hard to know whom to trust with their money.

Madoff, after all, put himself forward as a fee-only fiduciary, but was convicted of swindling investors out of some $65 billion in a gigantic Ponzi scheme.

More recently, a Seattle financial adviser, Mark Spangler, has become the target of a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe for securities fraud. He allegedly put clients into risky and ultimately money-losing private investments to which he was connected and failed to disclose those connections.

The Spangler case is also newsworthy because back in the 1990s, he was president and then chairman of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, a group that has sought and received a lot of press for being the good guys of the financial planning industry. To be a full member of NAPFA, an adviser has to (1) eschew all commissions and other payments that could be construed as conflicts of interest; (2) have three years of comprehensive financial planning experience; and (3) sign a fiduciary oath, swearing that he or she will put their clients' interest ahead of their own.

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