One way local authorities seek to improve Condo Association Board performance and reduce corruption is to implement mandatory training for new Board members on Condo Association Board ethics. The trainings discuss fiduciary duty, conflicts of interest, and other related topics. Are the trainings useful or useless? Let’s break down some thoughts on Condo Association Board ethics trainings.
They’re Better Than Nothing
All other things being equal, these trainings offer some value. I’ve seen prospective Board members who literally had no idea what the phrase fiduciary duty meant. Others really didn’t understand that there was work involved in being on a Condo Board. Creating a training process that helps orient Board members as to what they can expect is certainly better than nothing.
Compliance is Going to Be Largely Voluntary
I’ve examined a few of the trainings, and they were all in a presentation-style format, with some including knowledge checks or quizzes. The reality is that for most of the trainings, you could click through without reading a word. Given that the information is often quite dry, it’s likely that many people will breeze through without absorbing any knowledge.
Some examples of trainings include one from Maryland which does not require any registration, or an in-depth one from the Condominium Authority of Ontario, which does require registration to access. Florida also requires training by law, but the trainings appear to be either free in person or paid to do offline, so I was not able to evaluate them.
It May Stop Dumb Corruption…
The biggest upside to these training is that it might stop “dumb” corruption. This is defined as petty conflict of interest stuff – voting or awarding a contract to a friend’s company without disclosing the relationship, for example. It may seem laughably absurd, but some people don’t realize this is illegal or immoral. It also may help to ensure that Board members understand fiduciary duty and what it means to a community.
…But It Won’t Stop a Bad Person
The reality is that someone who joins a Condo Board for the wrong reasons is not going to be deterred by the trainings. If an individual has a goal of doing ill, a training will not stop them. They will still pursue their agenda of self-enrichment or corruption no matter what a bunch of slides say.
The Trainings are on the Right Track
While the training may not be perfect, educating Board members as to what their duties entail is the right idea. While the trainings could be a bit more interactive and push compliance, overall they’re better than not. What is important to keep in mind is that the training is just a beginning. A culture of accountability and professionalism is something your community Association needs to maintain every single day. With diligence, you can lead a better Condo life.