In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 13, 2006 / 22 Mar-Cheshvan, 5767

Pros and Cons

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir

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Do professionals need to strive for complete objectivity?

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: You recently stated that selling and providing advice should be strictly separated. How does this apply to professionals?

A: . In last week's column, I explained that a salesperson doesn't have to be objective. On the contrary, his or her job is to be an honest but partial advocate for the benefits of the product being sold. The consumer in turn is the judge, who makes an informed judgment after hearing the arguments from all sides, that is, all the businesses competing for the purchaser's spending.

Conversely, an advisor must be completely objective. His or her job is to advance the interests of the client, not to manipulate them. For this reason I condemned "in-house" financial advisors whose real job is not to advise the client but rather to sell to him.

One reader pointed out that this advice is not easily applied to professionals. The nature of the professions is that the expert provides both advice and service. A dentist diagnoses a cavity and also fills the tooth; an auto mechanic diagnoses the source of problems and repairs it, and so on.

While it is true that a professional both advises and sells, I think that his or her primary responsibility is providing impartial advice. During the advice stage, the professional is required to give counsel based solely on the best interest of the client. The average person is simply not in a position to play judge on whether or not he has a cavity, or a faulty carburetor, etc. Thus, he is totally reliant on the judgment of the professional.

Just as the average person is unable to judge whether or not he needs an operation, he is unable to evaluate the expertise of the professional he consults. This is one reason that professions almost always have professional societies which impose standards of conduct and of expertise among members. Jewish law encourages the formation of societies of this nature, and gives members of a trade the power to make binding restrictions on who is qualified to practice their trade and to regulate practice. In order to prevent these regulations from being anti-competitive, they are subject to the oversight of a local authority. (1) Membership in such a society or guild gives the client confidence that the professional is truly qualified to dispense impartial advice and is subject to some disciplinary process which can penalize him for acting in an unprofessional way.

Another way in which Jewish law gives special recognition of the expertise of trained professionals is giving them a partial exemption for advice which turns out to be ill-advised. An untrained individual is liable for giving bad advice, but Jewish law considers that a person with recognized professional credentials has the ability to exercise professional judgment, and that his or her "mistakes" are probably merely a regrettable case where problems could not have been foreseen. (2)

In many cases, sticking to giving impartial advice will keep a professional from any kind of conflict of interest. The client is provided with all the information needed to make an informed decision, based on the expert judgment of the professional. There is no scope left for advocacy. We would not expect a heart surgeon to explain to a patient that he has a choice between bypass surgery and a stent, and then add that there is a special sale on stents for one week only.

But we must admit that sometimes professional practices do include many discretionary items which the professional may want to market. For example, dentists routinely carry out purely cosmetic procedures such as whitening. This is acceptable as long as the professional clearly explains to the patient where the line is drawn. It's best if any "marketing" aspect of the interaction is left to a completely different part of the visit. For example, a dentist will first examine a patient and explain any dental work called for based on accepted professional standards. After the consultation is completed, the dentist can say, "By the way, you may also be interested in cosmetic dentistry treatments my practice can offer." A garage mechanic can finish explaining any necessary repairs, and add "By the way, we have a sale on tires." It should be made clear to the client that at this stage the professional/consultation stage is over, and that the professional is now putting on a new hat, that of salesperson.

The underlying principle, that it is forbidden to mix advice and salesmanship, applies equally to a salesperson, a consultant, and a professional. A salesperson and a consultant can easily avoid the problem by limiting their repertoire to one of these roles. Professionals inherently have a conflict of interest, because they advise their clients on services that they provide. But the presence of a conflict of interest doesn't mean that the professional will give self-serving advice. Adequate training, a commitment to impartiality and a clear distinction between advice and selling will enable a professional to fulfill all aspects of his job with ethical excellence.

SOURCES: (1) Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 331:28 (2) Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 306

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


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© 2005, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics