Full Transparency

At Aul Financial Group, Inc., we are dedicated to providing our clients with the highest level of service possible. Since the beginning, we have made every effort to further our knowledge and obtain licenses so that we may provide a wider range of services to our community. We are licensed to market securities, life and health insurance, fixed indexed annuities, long-term care insurance, and more. We are also licensed fiduciaries, which means your best interest is always our first priority.

Steve’s designations as an investment advisor:

ChFC®, RICP®, CLU®

Available at designationcheck.com, adviserinfo.sec.gov, and sbs.naic.org

What is an investment advisor?

An investment advisor is a federally licensed (Series 65) individual who engages in the regular business of providing advice or analysis of securities. Investment advisor representatives must be registered with a registered investment advisor as well as with the appropriate authorities in their state. Investment advisor representatives charge fees for their services.

Their primary responsibilities include providing investment-related advice, but their various other responsibilities can include:

  • Making recommendations on various securities
  • Managing client accounts, including discretionary accounts, and monitoring administrative issues
  • Advisory services, such as more general investment advice. This may include appearing on television or the radio or writing a column for a newspaper to deliver general guidance to a wider audience
  • Supervision of other investment advisor representatives

Investment advisor representatives are only allowed to offer advice on subjects on which they have passed regulatory examinations.

What is a Life & Health Certification?

A life insurance license means that we have been approved by our state to sell life insurance, including term, whole, and universal policies.

What is a Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU)?

From Investopedia: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/clu.asp

A chartered life underwriter is a professional designation for individuals who wish to specialize in life insurance and estate planning. Individuals must pass a series of courses and examinations to receive the designation.

The CLU designation is one of the oldest and most respected credentials in financial services, dating back to the late 1920s. It represents a thorough understanding of a broad array of personal risk management and life insurance planning issues. The program also stresses ethics, professionalism, and in-depth knowledge when delivering advice in the areas of life insurance, business planning, and estate planning.

What Is a Chartered Financial Consultant® (CHCF)?

From Investopedia: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/chartered-financial-consultant-chfc.asp

A Chartered Financial Consultant (ChCF) is a professional designation representing the completion of a comprehensive course consisting of financial education, examinations, and practical experience. Chartered Financial Consultant designations are granted by the American College upon completion of seven required courses and two elective courses. Those who earn the designation are understood to be knowledgeable in financial matters and to have the ability to provide sound advice.

The training for a Chartered Financial Consultant includes lessons in understanding key elements of the financial planning world, such as retirement planning, estate planning, insurance, investments, and income taxes. There is also curriculum on how rules within those segments change in relation to small business planning, financial planning for households in the process of divorce, or for families who have special needs dependents.

What Is a Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP)?

From Investopedia: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/retirement-income-certified-professional-ricp.asp

A retirement income certified professional (RICP) is a financial professional who specializes in retirement income planning. Financial professionals earn the RICP designation after following the program for retirement income professionals.

Once qualified, RICPs advise retirees and near-retirees as to the best way to use the assets they have accumulated for retirement to live comfortably within a realistic budget and not run out of money prematurely.

Key Takeaways

  • A retirement income certified professional (RICP) specializes in retirement income planning.
  • The RICP is a designation given to professionals who have completed the RICP training program.
  • RICPs help retirees and near-retirees to use the assets they have accumulated for retirement sustainably.

What Is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?

From Investopedia: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/cfp.asp

Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a formal recognition of expertise in the areas of financial planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning, and retirement (such as with 401(k)s). Owned and awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., the designation is awarded to individuals who successfully complete the CFP Board’s initial exams, then continue ongoing annual education programs to sustain their skills and certification.

What is a Fiduciary Standard

Investment advisors are held to the fiduciary standard. A fiduciary advisor has a legal and ethical obligation to put their clients’ needs and interests first. That means helping clients make decisions in their best interests and above the interests of the advisor. We have always kept the fiduciary standard at the core of our firm and our mission to our clients.

Investment advisor representatives who are held to the fiduciary standard must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • To act in the interest of the client with the exclusive purpose of providing benefits to the client
  • To pursue the necessary education or consult with outside experts should the need arise
  • To carry out responsibilities prudently, diversify plan investments, and disclose any and all fees and expenses to the client

If a fiduciary advisor fails to meet any of these standards, they may be personally liable for any damages caused to their client. In contrast, nonfiduciary advisors, or those who are held to the less stringent “suitability standard,” are not required to act in their clients’ best interests. They are not required to disclose the same level of information to their clients and do not necessarily have to recommend products that best fit their clients’ situations.

Fiduciaries standard helps protect you:

  • Fiduciaries are required to always put client needs first. We hold ourselves to the highest professional and personal standards, and this commitment is reflected in our service. Our main focus is your financial needs and goals and how we can best help you pursue them.
  • As part of the fiduciary standard, we must act in your best interests. We are committed to taking all measures to avoid conflicts of interest, but if they arise and are unavoidable, we are required to fully disclose them to you. We work to provide a high level of transparency around fees and expenses associated with your accounts, which helps you know what you own and what you’re paying for it.

Understanding the fiduciary standard

Traditionally, there have been two types of standards in financial services: the suitability standard and the fiduciary standard. The suitability standard is defined as determining whether an investment product or strategy is “suitable” for the investor based on their financial objectives and risk comfort level.

Under this rule, an advisor simply determines whether a recommended product or strategy is suitable for the client. The fiduciary standard is a higher level of responsibility for the advisor — it goes beyond suitability and requires that any advice about products and strategies be provided in the best interests of the investor. The fiduciary standard of care requires that the advisor take into consideration whether the fees are reasonable, whether there are any conflicts of interest, and whether the investments are adequately diversified.

Our commitment to you

We believe this model of disclosure and transparency is in the best interests of our clients. In our view, you deserve to have your needs put first, and the strategies and investment products we recommend should align according to those needs.

The fiduciary standard mandates that there is no circumstance in which we can place our interests above yours. By adhering to the fiduciary standard, we believe we can provide you with the highest standard of care for all your investment and retirement needs.

What Is The National Producer Number (npn)?

The National Producer Number (NPN) is a unique NAIC identifier assigned to individuals and business entities engaged in insurance-related activities regulated by a state insurance department. The NPN is used to track those individuals and business entities on a national basis.

What is the National Ethics Association (NEA)?

Since 2001, the National Ethics Association (NEA) has helped business professionals build their businesses on a foundation of trust, ethics, and best practices. The Association is committed to helping businesses service their customers with knowledge and integrity by providing educational resources and content encouraging and promoting ethics in business and beyond. NEA is also devoted to aiding consumers with the increasingly complex task of conducting due diligence on business professionals. This results in greater peace of mind for skeptical consumers and rewards those worthy of their trust.

What Is The Better Business Bureau (BBB)?

Better Business Bureau helps United States, Canada, and Mexico consumers find businesses and charities they can trust. The BBB rating is based on information BBB is able to obtain about the business, including complaints received from the public. BBB seeks and uses information directly from businesses and from public data sources. BBB assigns ratings from A+ (highest) to F (lowest).

What kind of exams does an investment professional have to pass?

From Investopedia: https://www.investopedia.com/articles/professionaleducation/07/63_65_66.asp

When a person is preparing to enter the world of investment professionals, they must take — and pass — qualification examinations. Often before the individual is prepared to fully function in their profession, there are multiple examinations that must be successfully negotiated. Once the prospective registered representative has passed the first “core” examination — usually the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Series 6 or Series 7 — at least one more hurdle remains: the Series 63, 65, or 66.

Series 63

In most states, a new registered representative must at a minimum pass the Series 63 to satisfy state law registration requirements. The Series 63 (formally known as the Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination) consists of 65 questions. Of this number, 60 counts toward the candidate’s score. The remaining five questions are experimental questions used by NASAA to evaluate their potential future use, and, therefore, they do not count toward the candidate’s score. The exam has a time limit of 75 minutes. The exam focuses on the registration of persons and securities under the USA and ethics in the securities industry.

The first examination created by NASAA to test the competency of individuals who wish to provide fee-based investment advisory services was the Series 65. At the time, it focused primarily on the Uniform Securities Act, NASAA amendments, and ethical practices in the securities industry.

Series 65

The Series 65 exam underwent a dramatic change that became effective in 2000. It had long been a 75-question exam that focused primarily on state securities laws (the Uniform Securities Act) and ethics but became a 130-question “competency exam” with a time limit of 180 minutes. Like the Series 63, the Series 65 exam has experimental questions that will be included in every test. There are 10. To pass the exam, the candidate must answer 94 of the 130 questions correctly (72%). In addition to questions about the USA and ethics, the Series 65 exam includes questions on the subjects of economics, investment vehicles, investment strategies, analysis, and ethics.

Currently, the majority of those who take the Series 65 are either securities professionals who have not passed the Series 7 General Securities Representative Exam, or those in related fields within the financial services industry, such as accountants, who wish to be in the business of providing investment advice for fees. This includes, of course, those who work for investment advisory firms and wish to become IARs.

Series 66

The Series 66 exam is relatively new. It was created by NASAA in response to requests from broker-dealers and other financial services firms. It is essentially a combination of Series 63 and Series 65, but since a prerequisite for taking the exam is successful completion of the Series 7 exam, it does not include the product, analysis, and strategy questions that are a large part of the Series 65. The Series 66 test is 100 questions that count toward the candidate’s score and 10 experimental questions. The time limit for the exam is 150 minutes. To pass the exam, a candidate must correctly answer 73 (73%) of the questions.

To avoid overlap with the Series 7, NASAA assembled a committee of securities industry experts to eliminate questions in the Series 66 that would be duplicative of those in the Series 7. As a result, the Series 66 exam is considered by most to be an “easier” test. It will, like the Series 65, qualify the individual to act as an IAR, and it fulfills the requirements of the USA for state registration. Note that candidates can take the 66 or 7 in any order, but both must be completed in order to register.

The Bottom Line

Passing the Series 63 exam for registration within a state is a requirement for all registered representatives. Those who wish to be IARs must pass the Series 66 and the Series 7. The Series 66 is equivalent to taking both the Series 63 and Series 65. If an individual does not already have a Series 7 and wishes to be an IAR, the Series 65 is NASAA’s competency exam.