Non-Profits, Endowments, & Foundations Guide to Choosing a Financial Advisor

  • By Christopher W. Brown, CFP®, CIMA®

  • 9 Mar, 2023

  • Nonprofit

As a trustee of a nonprofit, endowment, or foundation, you have the important responsibility to  ensure your organization’s assets are being managed with care. Your role as steward is critical  in preserving the long-term sustainability of these essential organizations.

There are many types of financial advisors out there, and choosing the right one to oversee the  financial aspects of the organization can seem overwhelming with all of the options available to  you. The right investment advisor will carry out the fiduciary responsibilities of administering  funds and developing the overall investment strategy that will allow your organization to pursue  its financial goals, which will enable it to achieve its larger mission statement.

With no shortage of advisors willing to offer financial advice, choosing the right fiduciary for your  organization is crucial, and should be approached with set requirements and goals in mind.  There are many things to know and consider throughout the process.


For financial advice for your non-profit, business,or just your individual portfolio, contact the Brown |Miller financial advisors in Washington, D.C. to see how they can help you


Trustee Responsibility: The Importance of Hiring a Fiduciary

A trustee is a person or organization that is responsible for managing the money or other assets  that have been put into a trust. A trustee is trusted to make the best decisions in the name of  their beneficiary’s best interests.

A trustee has a fiduciary duty to act within the best interests of their beneficiary. All trustees  inherently have several responsibilities:

  • The assets are not their own. Therefore, a trustee will never mix any personal assets  with trust assets. They also cannot use assets for their own benefit
  • A trustee must abide by all instructions laid out in the trust
  • Any trust assets must be invested according to the laid-out risk parameters
  • Trustees must keep accurate records, including tax returns, and report to any and all  beneficiaries laid out in the trust

All fiduciaries are required by law to serve their client’s best interests. All fiduciaries are held to  a high standard, and this adds an element of loyalty to any organization that hires a trustee.

Is a CFP® Professional /CIMA® Professional Right for your Foundation’s Needs?

Businessman using laptop computer with quality assurance and document icon, a fiduciary CFP®/CIMA® designation matters

A CIMA® advisor (certified investment management analyst) is a certification offered by the Investments & Wealth Institute for financial planners and advisors who have an emphasis on investment management. A CIMA® advisor can work with individuals and corporations, and they can prove invaluable to nonprofits or other charitable organizations. They specialize in a wide variety of investments, which include endowments and their asset management. CIMA® advisors stand  out amongst financial professionals in that they bring a high level of expertise in business  strategy, operations, and management.

A CFP® professional is a fiduciary who specializes in a wide variety of financial topics. For  example, a CFP® professional may specialize in investment management, estate planning, tax  strategy, or insurance. While they may specialize in one particular area, their expertise  encompasses a wide scope of financial topics.

A CFP® professional encompasses a broad range of financial areas, and due to this, they often  hold additional certifications to match specific areas of expertise. It is not uncommon for a CFP®  to also have a CIMA® certification. A CFP® professional must also adhere to the CFP Board’s ethical standards, which ensures they have both a fiduciary duty to you and your organization  and provides a level of transparency.

Both certifications offer a wide range of benefits, including investment advisor fiduciary duties  and high levels of expertise regarding investment management and business operations. These  attributes make either one of these advisors an invaluable asset to any nonprofit or charitable  foundation.

Investment Advisor Duties for Nonprofits,  Foundations, and Endowments

The overall purpose of nonprofit and foundation investing is to achieve whatever the  organization’s ultimate mission and goals are towards its chosen cause. Donors give money to  these organizations because of their mission. They trust that their donated funds will be  invested appropriately and responsibly in alignment with the causes and community that the  organization serves.

A good investment advisor abides by a fiduciary standard and works with their clients to ensure  that the nonprofit or foundation focuses on better serving and advancing their purpose via donor  funds and stewardship of their endowments. By abiding by a fiduciary standard and serving their  client’s best interest, a qualified investment advisor should utilize their financial and business  expertise to further the cause; all capital should be optimized to its fullest investment potential  within the determined risk parameters so the organization’s dollars are fully utilized.

Choosing the Right Wealth Management Firm

Brown | Miller is committed to providing focused, intentional financial planning and investment  management services for nonprofits and other organizations. Our team of certified professionals  possess the knowledge, experience, and credentials necessary to assist with meeting your  organization’s mission & goals. We understand the importance of maintaining a fiduciary  standard for your organizational needs. Contact us today, to find out more about our services for  non-profits, endowments, and foundations.

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Author: Christopher W. Brown, CFP®, CIMA®

Christopher W. Brown is the Founder and Managing Principal at Brown | Miller Wealth Management.