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This Web site contains a compilation of more than a thousand consumer finance  columns written by Tony Novak from the 1980s through 2006, updated and reformatted for maximum usefulness today.  New material was added after 2010.

Content is the opinion of the author and does not represent the position of any other person or entity. Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed.

The author is paid for product endorsements and has an ownership or other financial interest in the businesses related to the topics covered.

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Disclosure of insurance commissions

originally posted: 11/22/2006  reposted: 2/18/2011 This post has not been recently reviewed or revised by the author and may be out of date. If you notice an error or are in doubt, please send a new question by email or ask for an update. Email

Q: Is an insurance agent required to disclose commissions when also acting as a financial adviser?

A: No, disclosure of the details of commissions received by an insurance agent is not required under any federal or state law. For this reason, we should never consider this type of service to be truly independent advice. In contrast, Registered Investment Advisers, CPAs, and attorneys are required to disclose additional compensation of any kind, including commissions. CFPs are now also supposed to disclose commissions, but it seems that many have not adapted to this relatively new professional standard and the bulk of CFPs, it seems, still collect commissions with disclosing details. Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission recently issued regulations restricting commissioned sales representatives from using the term "financial adviser" or "financial planner" unless they are also qualified and regulated as required for those professions. But some may either not be aware of Terms of Service or may claim exemption since the SEC only controls investments and only some insurance policies are also a regulated investment. Additional consumer protection is needed to close the loopholes.


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