Given the aggressive lobby campaign the industry is waging against the Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary standard for retirement plan advisors, you might think that: (1) most insurance and financial professionals are averse to applying the term to themselves; and/or (2) understand what being a fiduciary entails.

Think again. According to a new study, the vast majority, or 80 percent, of advisors considered themselves to be a fiduciary. Yet nearly 4 in 10 (37 percent) deem the term “meaningless” because they lack an understanding of a fiduciary’s function.

CLS Investments and MarketCounsel disclose these findings in a survey of more than 200 independent financial service professionals about the fiduciary standard of care. The study gauges advisor perception with regards to the term “fiduciary:” how advisors understand the term, whether they deem it worthwhile to use the term in describing themselves with clients, and whether it should be uniformly applied across the financial advisory industry’s channels.

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