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The Labrador Retriever Standard

A few days ago, we had to put our 14-year-old lab mix, Carbone (“car-BO-nay”), to sleep. If you have ever been through this, you will know how sad my family and I are.

As I thought about what Carbone meant to us, I realized there is a lesson that applies to my job as a financial advisor – and to what our clients should expect from us.

First, a few words about Carbone. He joined our family as a young pup when we lived in Italy. That explains the name: “carbone” is Italian for “charcoal”, and he was as black as charcoal … at least until his gray accents came in. Two of his three greatest passions were eating and sleeping; no surprise there. His third passion was us. Like most labs, and most dogs, he loved his family unconditionally. He knew when we needed companionship and when we needed our own space. He gave the world’s best “dog hugs”, and accepted our affection gratefully. And he certainly knew when we needed protection from the UPS delivery guy. (Answer: always). In short, he was the best dog we could have ever wanted.

There is a lot of talk in the financial advice industry about requiring all advisors to adopt a “Fiduciary Standard”. That basically means requiring an advisor to act, first and foremost, in a client’s interests. Old Peak has made this pledge of loyalty since the day I founded the firm. By contrast, the vast majority of advisors are not fiduciaries — because that would prevent them from recommending products with a fat fee.

Carbone was a fiduciary to my family. All he asked was that we be his fiduciaries. To honor his memory, let me re-affirm my own commitment to clients. We will always be as loyal to you as Carbone was to my family. You deserve nothing less.

RIP, Carbone. Ti vogliamo bene.

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