Be a Fiduciary, Not a Functionary

In The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, Gary and Jay say there is a distinction between the two types of service available in the real estate industry: functionary vs. fiduciary.

A functionary does the tasks related to the job. They check the boxes and mosey their way through a transaction. Functionaries are low-cost for clients because they are low-value.

On the other hand, Gary and Jay define a fiduciary as an agent who has made the commitment “to place the client’s interests ahead of the interests of others. Even their own.” Delivering this high level of service increases your value as an agent and allows you to earn more money through the work that you do.

Figure from Keller Williams Value2 Course Presentation


While the biggest difference between a functionary and fiduciary is the level of commitment they make to their clients’ best interest, you’ll notice that is just the tip of the iceberg. Some people may mistakenly think that they’re fiduciaries simply because they have a good heart. Although caring is the core of being a fiduciary, it is a foundation that exceptional agents build upon. Fiduciaries dedicate themselves to providing professional-level expertise and services. Becoming one takes skill and focus.

If you dive deeper into what makes a fiduciary different from a functionary, you’ll notice that these differences fall into three areas: leveling up your market knowledge, listening to your clients so you can provide service tailored to their needs, and loving on them so that they have a great experience and deep relationship with you.

Level Up

When you tell people that you’re a real estate professional, how often do they reply with a question: How’s the market?

As someone who is knowledgeable about both your local and national real estate market and its trends, you are in a position to help people make the most informed decision about potentially one of the biggest financial transactions of their lives. But there’s a difference between simply printing a handout of market statistics and being able to walk your clients through what those numbers mean for them. A functionary will simply tell someone what they should do, a fiduciary not only understands the market trends that affect their clients, they educate their clients so that they are empowered to make right decision.

Listen To

The secret to providing great service is to do one thing well: listen. Getting to truly know your client’s wants, needs, and motivation provides the key to unlocking customized solutions. This information not only helps you identify their real estate needs, but it gives you the gift of understanding what’s important to your client as a person. This personal touch allows you to anticipate what they may need from you to make their experience exceptional. Rather than simply being a functional agent who takes them through a checklist of tasks, you can be a fiduciary who keeps them focused on their goals and secures a positive outcome.

Love On

In the end, real estate is a business that is built by relationships. The relationship that an agent develops with their client will determine whether they are seen as a functionary, someone who simply has helped them through a transaction that is now complete, or as a fiduciary, someone who has a deep relationship with them and cares about their interests. Fiduciaries create clients for life because they accept the responsibility for maintaining and developing the relationship. Functionaries lose repeat clients because they are only thinking in the short-term.

Now that we’ve walked through these three areas of fiduciary service, ask yourself: Do you need to level up, or listen to, or love on? Are you matching your fiduciary intentions with the high-level professionalism that your clients deserve and expect? Identifying which area may need more development can help you focus on building your skills and value.

Do you have helpful advice for how to make the leap from functionary to fiduciary? Share it with us on our KellerINK Facebook page. And subscribe to our newsletter for more articles and research.

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