Broker Check

Investment Fiduciary Guidelines

Step 1: Organize
The process begins with fiduciaries educating themselves on the laws and rules that will apply to their situations. Once fiduciaries identify their governing rules, they then need to define the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in the process. If investment service providers are used, then any service agreements should be in writing.

Step 2: Formalize
Formalizing the investment process starts by creating the investment program's goals and objectives. Fiduciaries should identify factors such as investment horizon, an acceptable level of risk, and expected return. By identifying these factors, fiduciaries create a framework for evaluating investment options.

Fiduciaries then need to select appropriate asset classes that will enable them to create a diversified portfolio through some justifiable methodology. Most fiduciaries go about this by employing the modern portfolio theory (MPT) because MPT is one of the most accepted methods for creating investment portfolios that target a desired risk/return profile.

Finally, the fiduciary should formalize these steps by creating an investment policy statement that provides the detail necessary to implement a specific investment strategy. Now the fiduciary is ready to proceed with the implementation of the investment program, as identified in the first two steps.

Step 3: Implement
The implementation phase is where specific investments or investment managers are selected to fulfill the requirements detailed in the investment policy statement. A due diligence process must be designed to evaluate potential investments. The due diligence process should identify criteria used to evaluate and filter through the pool of potential investment options.

The implementation phase is usually performed with the assistance of an investment advisor because many fiduciaries lack the skill and/or resources to perform this step. When an advisor is used to assist in the implementation phase, fiduciaries and advisors must communicate to ensure that an agreed-upon due diligence process is being used in the selection of investments or managers.

Step 4: Monitor
The final step can be the most time-consuming and also the most neglected part of the process. Some fiduciaries do not sense the urgency for monitoring if they got the first three steps correct. Fiduciaries should not neglect any of their responsibilities because they could be equally liable for negligence in each step.

In order to properly monitor the investment process, fiduciaries must periodically review reports that benchmark their investments' performance against the appropriate index and peer group, and determine whether the investment policy statement objectives are being met. Simply monitoring performance statistics is not enough.

Fiduciaries must also monitor qualitative data, such as changes in the organizational structure of investment managers used in the portfolio. If the investment decision-makers in an organization have left, or if their level of authority has changed, investors must consider how this information may impact future performance.

In addition to performance reviews, fiduciaries must review expenses incurred in the implementation of the process. Fiduciaries are responsible not only for how funds are invested but also for how funds are spent. Investment fees have a direct impact on performance, and fiduciaries must ensure that fees paid for investment management are fair and reasonable.

Source: Investopedia and Fi360 Prudent Practices