life preserver ring hanging in rye field Holden Caulfield sought to be a 'catcher in the rye,'standing near the rye field's edge to prevent children from fallingover the precipice — or, you could say, looking out for their bestinterests. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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William F. Buckley, Jr., the popular late twentieth centuryphilosopher, in November 1955 may have defined the ultimate dutyevery fiduciary strives to fulfill. The short, now famous, linewithin his “Publisher's Statement” that accompanied the inauguralissue of his new magazine struck a tone so brave few could arguewith it and all would come to admire.

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Buckley wrote of the purpose of National Review in this way: It“stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one isinclined to do so….”

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It was to be the creed of his new venture, but it offers an aptmetaphor for the fiduciary ideal, (see “A Fiduciary Must Confront The Fears and Fads ofMarket Cycles,” FiduciaryNews.com, June 11, 2019).

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To paraphrase Buckley, a fiduciary must stand athwart the windsof the market yelling “Stop!” at a time when no one is inclined todo so.

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No doubt the Yale-educated, former Firing Line host, andnationally syndicated columnist, who died in 2008, would appreciatethis sentiment. Buckley possessed a keen and variegatedintellect.

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In fact, he might go further than this metaphor and suggest apurer one more derivative from literature. He would have likenedthe best fiduciary as the one Holden Caulfield aspired to in J. D.Salinger's “The Catcher in the Rye” published in 1951 (the sameyear as Buckley's own best-seller “God and Man at Yale”).

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Salinger's book describes teenage angst in such a provocativemanner that it was widely banned just as the first wave of the babyboomer generation was peaking as teenagers. This made the book morealluring. Again, referencing a banned book might have been aninside joke to Buckley. He might have also liked the deliciousirony that, by forcing “The Catcher in the Rye” on so many highschool students, the book itself became the very mainstream itintended to rebel against.

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But enough literary digression. We're talking about the literarycharacter Holden Caulfield and his relationship to what today wecall “fiduciary duty.”

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Holden, bless his naive soul, sought to be a “catcher in therye.” In his mind, he would stand athwart the cliff on the edge ofa field of rye where children played. It would be his duty toprevent them from falling over the edge should they stray too closeto the precipice.

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In other words – and these are our words, not Holden's – hewould always be on guard, looking out for the best interests of thechildren.

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“Best interests.” You see what I did there?

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Retirement savers are playing the field of rye we call themarket. The cliff isn't a sudden market drop, but a potentially baddecision. The fiduciary's duty is to catch investors if they straytoo close to making a decision that isn't in their bestinterest.

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In this way, the fiduciary stands athwart the winds of themarket, yelling stop to the stampeding lemmings.

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READ MORE:

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A 3-word fiduciary rule — Carosa

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The 'Fiduciary Rule' versus the 'Rule of Fiduciary'— Carosa

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Do you have the 'knows' to be a fiduciary? —Carosa

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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).