Client Access  |  Careers & Advisory Teams
Richard with A hands
January 7, 2021

Who Do You Rely on for Conflict-Free Financial Advice?

Financial Planning Committee

Who do you turn to when you need financial advice? According to a recent survey by the National Financial Educators Council (NFEC), more Americans (40 percent) rely on parents, family members, friends, or coworkers for financial guidance than turn to financial professionals (36 percent).

“When people have trusted professionals to whom they can turn when making money decisions, they are better able to consider options that align with their short- and long-term needs,” the NFEC wrote about the survey results.

At JNBA, we strongly agree with that assessment and discussed in a recent blog post the value an advisor can bring to a relationship by closely partnering with a client to do financial life planning. The data backs it up: Vanguard’s Advisor Alpha study demonstrates that 150 basis points (or a 1.5 percent increase) can be added to a relationship annually through behavioral coaching or helping with financial decision making.

We also believe that the 150-basis-point addition is only a starting point, since not all financial advisors approach financial life planning the same way. JNBA, for instance, is an independent and fee-only Registered Investment Advisor, which is an important designation that only a fraction of wealth management firms embrace. Providing conflict-free advice is what has driven our firm for the past 42 years, and we believe that commitment to our clients, coupled with our advice driven by advocacy® approach, provides a major benefit – and point of differentiation – for our clients.

It’s gratifying that one of the top publications in our industry shines the spotlight on – and highlights the importance of – the relatively small number of RIA firms across the country who are truly independent. For six consecutive years, JNBA and our CEO, Richard Brown, have been named by Barron’s to its list of Top 100 Independent Advisors, representing the only Minnesota firm on the 2020 list.*

If you’re considering working with a financial advisor to enhance the odds of achieving your financial life goals, we encourage you to ask the following questions (in writing) to ensure you’re receiving conflict-free, independent advice from experienced professionals:

  • Are you held to a fiduciary standard in all dealings with me and my financial affairs?
  • Do you disclose all conflicts of interest, both actual and potential, that exist or might exist in my relationship with you?
  • Do you forego any type of commission-based compensation in favor of receiving all compensation via fees that are fully disclosed in dollar terms?
  • Do you provide full-service, comprehensive financial life planning services as well as investment advisory services?
  • If you provide full-service, comprehensive financial life planning services, are these services performed by individuals that have obtained the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) certification?

JNBA’s answer to all of these questions is a resounding “yes.” We’re strong believers in the importance of always keeping our clients’ best interests in mind, and we work every day to ensure that they benefit from our independence which allows us to provide conflict-free advice. Does your advisor, or anyone else you rely on for financial advice, have the same philosophy? (Download the Financial Advisor Disclosure Form here.)

If you’re interested in learning more about working with an advisor guided by JNBA’s advice driven by advocacy® approach, please contact us, and we’d be happy to discuss your questions and goals.

*As seen in the 8/24/15, 8/29/16, 9/18/17, 9/17/18, 9/16/19, & 9/14/20 issues of Barron’s magazine. Note: Limitations: Neither rankings and/or recognitions by unaffiliated rating services, publications, media, or other organizations, nor the achievement of any professional designation, certification, degree, or license, or any amount of prior experience or success, should be construed by a client or prospective client as a guarantee that he/she will experience a certain level of results if JNBA is engaged, or continues to be engaged, to provide investment advisory services. Rankings published by magazines, and others, generally base their selections exclusively on information prepared and/or submitted by the recognized adviser. Rankings are generally limited to participating advisers (see link as to participation data/criteria). Unless expressly indicated to the contrary, JNBA did not pay a fee to be included on any such ranking. No ranking or recognition should be construed as a current or past endorsement of JNBA by any of its clients. ANY QUESTIONS: JNBA’s Chief Compliance Officer remains available to address any questions regarding rankings and/or recognitions, including the criteria used for any reflected ranking. Barron’s is a trademark of Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from JNBA Financial Advisors, LLC.

Please see important disclosure information at


Navigating a Second Marriage

JNBA’s lifestyle podcast talks about merging assets, prenuptial agreements and more Sometimes, the first walk down the aisle doesn’t lead to a “happily ever after.”

Read More »