Don't do business with brokers who will not confirm in writing that they are fiduciaries to you. In my experience, brokers will not make this representation and instead will try to persuade you that the "fiduciary issue" is a red herring. Don't be fooled. It's a really big deal.
Your broker has a duty to disclose all risks from investing with him and his company. He also has an obligation to tell the truth. If he misleads you, including failing to disclose a major risk to your investment, you can sue him personally.
Financial fraud, in its multiple forms, is a plague that can be temporarily suppressed, but not eradicated. Some of the worst financial actors were exposed in the Great Recession. But every day brings fresh reports of gross misconduct on Wall Streets at home and abroad.
If your broker is enthused at the prospect of resolving claims against him in a system administered by an organization that receives financial support from the brokerage industry, you know it's a terrible idea.
If you're among the 17 million investors using accounts at the popular online brokers Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and E-trade, you are collectively throwing away over $1.8 billion a year in unnecessary fees, according to a recent NerdWallet study.