“By Statute, it is My Fiduciary Responsibility…” 🤔
In my 20’s, when I was in a harmless debate about an issue, I learned that if someone ever said “Well, I know I’m right because I read it in The Economist” that it was time to back down. At one point, more for fun than anything else, I used it on people. And it worked. Of course, the person might not have actually read The Economist, and just because its written in The Economist doesn’t mean its correct, but nonetheless it carries some gravitas and sounds pretty authoritative. Best to pause, I thought.
In the world of local and state government, when you really want to stop people in their tracks, cut a conversation short, abruptly end a communal search for a better answer… simply say “it’s by statute that you can’t do what you are debating, so why even discuss it”. Many heads nod, a few people look at each other with a note of bewilderment, and often that really does cause the subject to change.
And in business, when someone says “I’m sorry, it’s our fiduciary responsibility to move forward with this controversial decision, yes it hurts people, but we have no choice. You understand.”
I used to stand down when I heard those words.
But somewhere along the line I learned something… statute isn’t always as black and white as the user of the word might have you believe. In fact, they may be improperly interpreting it in their favor, or frankly using it toend a conversation they have no interest in. And fiduciary, i’ve learned, is simply in the eyes of the beholder most of the time.
Sure… statutes and fiduciary represent important guardrails and even backstops to avoid bad behavior. But human beings were meant to strive for better solutions… always. Those who preceded us did not have all of the answers, and therefore statutes and fiduciary evolve over time and who better to debate them when something smells wrong than you and me. 🙂