A proxy is a person authorized to act for another.

An advocate is a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.

Both can create a funding bias by creating a tendency for originating studies and conclusions that support the interests of the study’s financial sponsor. The reciprocity trait in human nature can sometimes fuel this further by compelling a person to return favors.

Aside from a trustee, the only person who maintains an ethical and legal relationship bound by trust who prudently takes care of assets for another person or entity is a fiduciary.

Are your partners proxies for someone other than you?

Are your partners advocates for a firm or industry that compensates them?

Is your partner a legal fiduciary or are they biased toward another’s goals?