top of page
  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Fiduciary duty in auction marketing

I have immense respect and admiration for Ryan George. He is a gifted marketer, speaker, writer and thought-leader in the auction industry.

He is one of the few other bloggers who I have listed on the “blogroll” on my blog — and for good reason.

Ryan’s blog is a tremendous resource with a wealth of information about marketing, advertising and branding.

In his recent blog post titled (a great topic) “5 Ways Fiduciary Responsibility Guides Auction Advertising” (click here to read: he suggests auctioneers hold fiduciary positions in regard to clients (sellers.)

Indeed auctioneers are fiduciaries. They are to uphold the basic principles of obedience, loyalty, disclosure, confidentiality, accounting and reasonable care. We wrote about these duties in 2009 here:

In particular, Ryan’s recent post addresses loyalty. Auctioneers are to put their client’s interests ahead of their own. For instance, even if the auctioneer was interested in buying something in the client’s auction, that item would still have to be advertised just as if he had no interest.

The five conclusions Ryan expanded on in his blog are here:

  1. Pursue the right bidders, not necessarily the most bidders.

  2. Sell our sellers’ assets, not our events.

  3. Sell our sellers’ asset, not our brand or marketplace.

  4. Make it as easy as possible for buyers to buy.

  5. Leverage the most effective and efficient advertising possible.

Certainly we as auctioneers have to find the right bidders, not just the most bidders. Certainly we as auctioneers have to make it as easy as we can for buyers to buy. Certainly advertising should be effective and efficient.

Further, are auctioneers to sell assets and not events nor their brand or marketplace? Ryan apparently concludes so; I tend to think it may be a bit more complex. Sometimes the event, brand and/or marketplace draws those right bidders.

Many auctions are events and many auctioneers have well established reputations for providing those events — those marketplaces. In fact, the more experience and tenure and auctioneer has, the more the auction is an event where people will (or won’t) attend given who is conducting the auction.

The public shops for assets (property) but does develop allegiances to particular companies selling those assets; they tend to patronize companies where they have had a good prior experience, where the terms and conditions were viewed as reasonable, where they were treated fairly.

Relatedly, the concept of branding suggests ‘creating a differentiated name and/or image in order to establish a presence in the consumer’s mind to attract and keep customers.’ Where the auctioneer’s brand attracts and keeps bidders/buyers — it would be a violation of fiduciary duties to not prominently display and/or promote the auctioneer’s name/brand/marketplace.

While studies appear to have mixed results, it seems clear people aged 35-40-45 and beyond are brand loyal over those younger who are, however, still brand loyal but to a less extent. As well, studies are conclusive that these 35+ aged people are those who like to buy at auction over those younger, and do so because they have the required resources and patience.

If you are an auctioneer, it may be a violation of fiduciary duty to make your name/brand/marketplace the major part of any auction advertising over the assets being sold. However, if you as an auctioneer have a loyal bidder/buyer crowd which is attracted to your auction events — it would be a violation of fiduciary duty to leave your name/brand/marketplace out of prominence in any auction advertising.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page