A Ship Captain’s Trust and the Origins of Truepoint: Celebrating 25 years
As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, Truepoint Wealth Counsel is honored to be the trusted partner of over 600 families. From the start, we’ve done business one way and one way only: by embracing the fiduciary standard that puts the client’s best interests first, always.
It has been said that fiduciary duty is the highest duty known to law, and we believe that is the case. It is a concept that is easy to understand, but not always easy to find in the financial services industry. From the Latin noun fiducia, meaning “trust,” the simplest definition of a fiduciary from Merriam-Webster is:
A person in a position of authority whom the law obligates to act solely on behalf of the person he or she represents and in good faith… Unlike people in ordinary business relationships, fiduciaries may not seek personal benefit from their transactions with those they represent.
For over five hundred years this standard has been part of the legal system and society. As a matter of fact, fiduciary was the term used hundreds of years ago for the person entrusted with overseeing the needs of the family left ashore when the captain of a merchant vessel set out to sea. Knowing he would be gone –and at risk – for a year or longer, the captain would hire a trusted individual to watch over his family and manage their finances while he was away. Selected based on knowledge, trustworthiness and dedication, the fiduciary’s code was to place the family’s interests ahead of his own needs – consistent with our modern definition of the term.
But today when you wish to hire an individual to watch over your family’s financial needs, it’s important to be on guard for conflicts of interest that prevent some “advisors” from truly operating as fiduciaries. Moreover, the industry and current regulatory environment have begun to allow some blurring of terms, creating additional confusion for consumers. A “financial advisor” may or may not be obligated to provide you with advice that is strictly and completely in your best interest. “Fee-only” and “fee-based” compensation may sound essentially the same, but are actually quite different. And some are beginning to argue that “fiduciary duty” should mean serving a client’s best interest most of the time, except when the fine print includes a disclosure to allow something “suitable” for the client — and more profitable for the institution.
There are those who say the fiduciary standard is being diminished by the industry’s obfuscations and may someday be lost altogether. But at Truepoint, we don’t believe that for a minute. To the contrary, as one of the first fee-only financial advisory firms in Greater Cincinnati, we see our long-standing commitment to the fiduciary standard as one of the key factors driving our outstanding client satisfaction ratings – which we are proud to say have never been higher in our 25-year history.
Not only is it the foundation of the way we have always done business, but we have taken its implementation a step further as Truepoint has grown. Recognizing that a fiduciary has an obligation to delegate certain duties to qualified experts in order to identify what is truly in a client’s best interest, Truepoint has continually strengthened our in-house expertise. This provides our clients with a fully-integrated team approach incorporating the analysis and insights of best-in-class specialists across investment management, financial planning, tax management and estate planning. As a result, we’ve never been in a better position to identify and deliver the information and advice our clients need to make the right financial decisions to ultimately achieve their goals and objectives.
We are thankful for the opportunity we have had to work side-by-side with our clients as a trusted partner for the past 25 years. As we look ahead to the next quarter century, we offer an unwavering commitment to uphold the code of the long-ago sea merchant’s fiduciary: to always place the client’s needs and best interests ahead of our own.