I shuddered. Even though I felt as if all my muscles were frozen, I could feel my body start shaking. My palms were instantly sweaty. Anxiety rose within me.

Professor Zigglehoffer (not his real name) then told me, “Please stand, Mr. Rhoades.” I dutifully obeyed, not certain if my legs would support my trembling body. The professor then asked, “Why did Mr. Jones not have a contract with Mr. Smith.” I cringed.

Here I was, standing in a class of over 100 students, on the first day of Contract Law, a required course in the first semester of law school. My worst fear was happening – I was called upon in class. Two hundred eyes judged me, as well as Professor Zigglehoffer – the tyrant lord of the socratic method.

The CFP Board's exam and the AICPA's PFS exam are generally viewed as a test of the foundational knowledge one should possess to practice as a financial planner. Similarly, the CFA Institute's (tough) three-part exam leads to the award of the CFA, a prestigious largely investments-focused designation, but not necessarily an indication of wisdom and experience.

Nearly 2,000 years ago a young religious scholar, the son of a carpenter, chose to stand apart from the established religious leaders of the day. Building upon a heritage of moral virtues, he emphasized love for all, including thy enemies, as well as hope and compassion.

On this day, December 25, 2014, we are honored to celebrate his birth.

Torture is alleged to be undertaken by the CIA (under authorization, at least to an extent, from someone in the Bush Administration).

As we approach 2015, I share with my "wish list' for the DOL, SEC, state securities regulators, and the various voluntary professional associations.

And I encourage YOU to undertake simple act, involving just a few minutes of your time, which may well serve to put us back on the path toward a true profession.


I've grown increasingly concerned about stock market valuation levels.

There are many ways to determine valuations of individual stocks, and then by extrapolation the valuation levels of asset classes or the overall U.S. stock market. Some measures, however, such as P/E ratios, are highly volatile and can at times yield valuation measures which are even, at times, nonsensical.

The power of a bona fide fiduciary lies in her or his blunt refusal to be compromised.

Steadfast Integrity. Complete Objectivity. Expert Advice. Complete Candor and Honesty.

The Power of Trust.

It is time to look for an appropriate marketplace solution to the problem that consumers do not know who they can trust. The essential problem is that Wall Street has captured the SEC, and that the SEC has over the past three decades essentially gutted the fiduciary standard under the Investment Advisers Act - by not applying it and by permitting investment advisers (especially dual registrants) to disclaim away their core fiduciary duty of loyalty.

If American consumers believed that they could trust their financial advisors, demand for the services of financial advisors would soar.

I admit it. I'm a "believer." Yes, I am even a "fiduciary" zealot.

I believe when you say, "I act in my client's best interest," it means never placing your interests above that of the client. No caveats. I believe that core fiduciary duties cannot be waived by clients, nor can disclaimers of fiduciary duties be upheld as legitimate.

I believe when you say, "I provide objective advice," it means that conflicts of interest are avoided.