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What does it mean to be an RIA?

FSN is an independent Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm. An RIA registers with and agrees to be regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). RIAs are deemed fiduciaries by law. Many RIAs work with complex client situations and address unique needs that require a personalized level of strategy and evaluation. Many independent RIAs are owned by the individual advisors who run them. All RIAs are required to submit a report each year called the Form ADV to both the SEC and the states where they operate. This report lists the firm’s types of services, the clients the firm serves, and how the firm is compensated. This report is available upon request or at the SEC’s website,

What is a fiduciary?

At FSN, we hold ourselves to a fiduciary standard. A fiduciary must act in utmost good faith and place clients’ bests interests above all else. In contrast, non-fiduciary advisors are only required to provide recommendations that are suitable for a given situation. Non-fiduciary advisors also sometimes allow their firm’s interests (or even their own) to influence the investment advice that they give. As fiduciaries, we are free from conflict of interest, so clients can be confident that we are sitting on the same side of the table, working to find the solution that best serves their needs.

How does FSN get compensated?

FSN is a fee-based planning firm. Transparency is important to us at FSN. We believe that it is imperative for our clients to understand the scope of the work and the cost before we begin working together. We charge a fixed fee for financial planning, and we quote the fee up front once we know the scope of work involved. The majority of our clients update their plan on an annual basis and continue to pay a reduced financial planning fee.

Our investment management fees are distinct from the financial planning fee. The investment management fees are a fixed percentage, and the percentage of the fee declines as assets increase. The fee is charged quarterly, and the total assets are considered to be all accounts managed by FSN. (A current fee schedule is available upon request.)

What is a custodian?

A custodian physically holds client assets. Custodians provide independent, third-party statements and tax reporting, and also have the proper infrastructure for executing trades. FSN utilizes Pershing Advisor Solutions LLC as our custodian for client assets.

Who is Pershing Advisor Solutions?

Pershing Advisor Solutions is an affiliate of Pershing LLC, the no. 1 clearing firm in the country and the industry’s largest global business solutions provider. Founded in 1939 and based in New Jersey, Pershing LLC is a subsidiary of the Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, which has $27.4 trillion in assets under custody and/or administration. Pershing delivers dependable operational support, robust trading services, flexible technology, an expansive array of investment solutions and practice management support.

What is a broker-dealer?

A broker-dealer typically handles commission-structured investments. FSN utilizes Comprehensive Asset Management and Servicing as our broker-dealer.

Who is Comprehensive Asset Management and Servicing?

FSN offers a limited number of commission-structured investment vehicles such as annuities, 529 plans and mutual fund “C” shares. These commission-structured investments make up only about 5 percent of FSN’s business. We are able to offer these types of investments because of our relationship with Comprehensive Asset Management and Servicing.

What do the professional designations indicate?

At FSN, the majority of our advisors are credentialed. Below are detailed explanations of what each credential represents.


The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) designation requires an advisor to meet rigorous professional standards and pass a two-day, 10-hour exam. In addition, the CFP® designation represents an advisor’s commitment to the principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence when dealing with clients. There is only a 62 percent pass rate on the final exam, and research conducted by the CFP Board indicates that only 20 percent of all financial advisors hold the CFP® certification.


A Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) has completed the most extensive educational program required for any financial services credential. The ChFC® designation has been a mark of excellence for financial planners for almost thirty years, and with an average study time for the program of over 400 hours, advisors frequently spend years earning this coveted credential. The curriculum covers extensive education and application training in all aspects of financial planning, income taxation, investments, and estate and retirement planning.


A Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) has voluntarily submitted to a process of certification in the field of investment management consulting, successfully meeting the initial and ongoing standards to provide objective investment advice and guidance to individuals and institutions. CIMA® certified professionals apply investment theory and integrate a complex body of investment knowledge systematically and ethically to assist clients in making prudent investment decisions. Since April 2011, CIMA® certification has been recognized as the only financial services credential in the U.S. to have met an international standard for personnel certification and earned accreditation by American National Standards Institute. The CIMA® certification program covers five core topic areas and requires that candidates meet all eligibility requirements, including experience, education, examination and ethics.


Chartered Life Underwriter® is a professional designation for individuals who specialize in life insurance and estate planning, and represents eight or more comprehensive college-level courses covering all aspects of insurance planning, estate and retirement issues, taxation, business insurance and risk management. The average study time for the program is over 400 hours, and the CLU® designation can take years to earn. Professionals holding the CLU® designation must also complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education every two years and meet extensive experience requirements, ensuring their knowledge base is both comprehensive and current.