Well over a third of advisors responding to a new survey deemed 401(k) fiduciary meaningless—the term, that is.

In what we readily admit is a bit of click bait, a joint survey by CLS Investments and compliance powerhouse MarketCounsel found 80 percent of advisors surveyed considered themselves to be a fiduciary. However, nearly 37% of overall respondents deemed the term “meaningless” given a lack of understanding of the function.

Nearly 75 percent of respondents say acting solely in a client’s best interest defines a fiduciary. Further, 39% felt that regulatory language, definitions, and standards are not clearly defined.

“While a clear definition around the term is needed to move forward, the core of the issue is larger than the industry’s lack of regulatory clarity around the term fiduciary – the real issue is that the retail customer doesn’t understand what that term really means,” said Todd Clarke, CEO of CLS Investments. “Until we can help the lay investor understand what it really means to be served by a fiduciary and why they should work with one, I think we will continue to see these inconsistencies and feedback industry-wide. Without demand from the investor, we will maintain the status quo.”

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