When my children were in elementary and middle school I would be tapped every year to do a presentation for career day. I have to admit it was tough. I wasn’t a fireman, a policeman, a plumber or a cowboy….no, I was a Professional Fiduciary. Just like their parents the kids would look at me and even if they didn’t say it out loud their eyes certainly did…A What!?
The first couple of minutes of my presentation was to get the word Fiduciary to roll comfortably off their tongues. Then came the tough part to make it roll comfortably in their brains.
My son and daughter are now grown, college graduates, out on their own, leading successful lives so that shows you how many years ago career day took place. I hadn’t thought about those presentations in many years. Until I was at a recent business function and a young man came up to me and as an introduction said, “I still want Julio’s candy.”
I didn’t recognize the speaker and I have to admit that I had to clear away a good deal of cobwebs as I went back in the memory vault. It turned out that the young man had been one of my daughter’s classmates in the sixth grade. His comment came from a career day presentation.
The memories of how I struggled to make what a Professional Fiduciary is and what we do understandable to sixth graders came back in detail.
I would pick out a kid in the front row…in this case Julio. On Julio’s desk I would place a good sized bag of candies. I would then ask who wants some of Julio’s candy. Naturally every hand in the class room went up. Then I asked who wants Julio. I added that Julio kept his room a mess and it has lots of bugs, he has a bad temper, doesn’t always bathe or brush his teeth, wears smelly clothes, is very bossy and sometimes uses very bad language. Not surprisingly no hands went up.
Usually, some bright child would ask if she took Julio could she also get his candy. Then another industrious soul would add to the scenario and ask if they took Julio and got his candy could they lock Julio in his room while they ate the candy or send him someplace else to live. There were several in favor of that plan.
To keep the conversation going I would ask “Whose candy is this in the bag?” Julio’s of course was the resounding reply. “Well if it’s Julio’s candy why should you get it?”
The answers flew at me. “I’m his friend.”, was a response. “I’m his cousin.”, said a girl in the back. “I like candy.”, a very honest if not charitable reason. “He should share. I don’t have any candy.”, came from another.
“What if Julio needed all of his candy to survive?”
That changed the outlook for many of the children. Some still said that Julio didn’t really need all of the candy and others held on to their original reasons. (Friend, relative, like candy, etc.)
Julio appeared to be a stout young man who could probably account for himself fairly well on the playground but I asked, “If you could, would you take the candy from Julio?” A few admitted that they would. Julio wasn’t their friend or relative.
During all of this exchange I noticed that their was a young girl, Mary, that only raised her hand when I asked if anybody wanted some of Julio’s candy. I had her come forward and stand by Julio.
I told her I was a powerful judge asked if she could do a very, very hard job. I said that if she had trouble with the job she could come to me for help. She agreed and then asked what the job was. I explained that she was to protect Julio from all of these other kids that wanted his candy. She was to make sure that Julio’s candy was only given to Julio and that it had to last as long as Julio was alive. When Julio was gone she was to give whatever candy remained to whomever Julio had designated in writing. I told her that these other kids might yell at her, call her names and worse but she was to stand by Julio no matter what. If she needed help caring for Julio (get him to take a bath, wear clean clothes, clean up his room) she could give some of Julio’s candy to another kid for helping. For doing this very hard job she would be paid from Julio’s candy. Mary agreed to take on the job.
I then asked the rest of the class what we would call Mary. It was Mary that answered tentatively. “A Professional Fiduciary?”
She was absolutely correct! I went on to explain that when I said Julio I wanted the kids to think of their parents or grandparents or maybe even themselves.
Mary and Julio got first pick of the candy that day.
As I have discovered many times throughout my career there are lots of people that want Julio’s candy but not as many that also want to take care of Julio. As a Professional Fiduciary we take care of the Julios of the world and their candy. Our Julios are usually elderly, disabled and or vulnerable and their candy is their savings, their retirement, their homes and their lives. We are there to protect them and their “candy” from those that would take and abuse. And yes we often get yelled at, called names and worse.
This of course is a very simple explanation of what a Professional Fiduciary is and does.