Unless the client is a trust or ERISAattorney, chances are they don't care about the linguistic nuancesof the Great Fiduciary Rule debate. What the client really wants toknow is “What's in it for me?” That question opens the opportunityto show, rather than tell, what a fiduciary is. (Photo:Shutterstock)

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It all comes down to trust. Either they trust you or they don't.If they don't, no matter how hard you try, how diligently youpersevere, your efforts to serve as a fiduciary will fall flat.

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Sometimes we forget this. We spend a lot of energy finding theprecise words to prove our case. In the end, though, our actionsspeak louder than our words. And one bad action nullifies thousandsof eloquent words. More than actions, though, are the objectives ofthose actions. That's what I would call “the Rule of Fiduciary,”(see “7 Rules Every Professional Fiduciary MustFollow,” FiduciaryNews.com, August 7, 2018).

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This isn't some legal definition agreed to by a gaggle ofregulators or the culmination of case law handed down throughcenturies of jurists. This is simple, easy-to-understand, everydayconcepts.

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Fundamentally, serving as fiduciary is all about the client –sometimes to the consternation of the client, who can't understandwhy you are obligated to, on occasion, deny a request. Granted, this is more likely tohappen in the fiduciary capacity of a trustee rather than with afiduciary merely serving as an investment adviser, but it can occurin the latter case, too. (Ask me about this sometime).

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If it's all about the client, then, unless the client is a trustor ERISA attorney, chances are the client doesn't care about (oreven want to understand) the linguistic nuances of the GreatFiduciary Rule debate. In the rawest of terms, what the clientreally wants to know is “What's in it for me?”

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“What's in it for me?” That question opens the opportunityto show, rather than tell, what a fiduciary is.

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Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying to put on a show. Toofrequently people mistake the animation of “going through themotions” with actual accomplishment. No. I'm not talking about thatat all.

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A fiduciary need not (and arguably shouldn't) rely on thetheatrics of ostentatious display. For example, a fiduciary wouldhave used these words for the previous sentence: Don'tshowboat.

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Hmm. Upon further review (yes, I'm getting ready for thefootball season), a good fiduciary wouldn't have said anything atall. Those fiduciaries that work quietest may, in fact, work thebest.

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It's a classic sitcom scenario: After dinner, a husband andwife, married for decades, sit side-by-side on the living roomsofa, each engaged in their individual activities. He harrumphswhile perusing the sports pages. She sighs at the society pages. Inthe evening, just before they turn the lights out for bed, she saysto him, “What a wonderful conversation we had this evening.” Thehusband nods in agreement.

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She wasn't being sarcastic. It's just that, after years ofmarriage, they've grown well beyond simply completing each other'ssentences. They know their mate so well they can communicatewithout words.

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That's trust.

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And that's what every fiduciary should strive for with theirclient.

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Christopher Carosa

Chris Carosa has been writing a weekly article and monthly column for BenefitsPRO online and BenefitsPRO Magazine since 2011 and is a nationally recognized award-winning writer, researcher and speaker. He’s written seven books, including From Cradle to Retire: The Child IRA; Hey! What’s My Number? – How to Increase the Odds You Will Retire in Comfort; A Pizza The Action: Everything I Ever Learned About Business I Learned By Working in a Pizza Stand at the Erie County Fair; and the widely acclaimed 401(k) Fiduciary Solutions. Carosa is also Chief Contributing Editor of the authoritative trade journal FiduciaryNews.com and publisher of the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, a weekly community newspaper he founded in 1989. Currently serving as President of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and with more than 1,000 articles published in various publications, he appears regularly in the national media. A “parallel” entrepreneur, he actively runs a handful of businesses, including a small boutique investment adviser, providing hands-on experience for his writing. A trained astrophysicist, he also holds an MBA and has been designated a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. Share your thoughts and story ideas with him through Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/christophercarosa/)and Twitter (https://twitter.com/ChrisCarosa).