Will You be My Fiduciary?

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Valentine’s Day is about romance and personal relationships. It’s also big business.

CBS News reported that consumers plan to spend on average $193 celebrating the holiday. Valentine’s Day spending is expected to be $26 billion this year.

Imagine if fiduciary relationships had so much attention and as grand a budget.

In 2010, New York Times personal finance reporter, Tara Siegel Bernard, wrote a Valentine’s Day piece on what consumers should expect from a fiduciary.

Bernard’s headline (which I used to title this article) is playful; its principle is worthy. Healthy personal and professional relationships share key features. Care, loyalty, honesty and communications engender respect and trust.

For advisors, it starts with competence and integrity; for Valentine’s, loyalty and respect stand out. For both it requires and trust and integrity.

Tamar Frankel, professor of law emerita at the Boston University School of Law, put it this way: “Fiduciary and personal relationships are vital to the existence of a prosperous and happy society. Strong fiduciary duties are necessary for a market economy; good personal relationships for a healthy society. These relationships share certain features. Both require reliable and trustworthy behavior and are essential for society to flourish. Even the suspicion of a lack of trustworthiness is likely to undermine society.”