Refinance Med School Loan

15 Ways New Physicians Can Get On Track Financially

Your first year in practice is busy. In fact, you may have overlooked a few financial moves that can save taxes, avoid problems and lead to success. While financial planning for doctors is not complicated, it does require time and energy that’s in short supply during the first year or two of practice. To start making progress, you can use the following steps as a checklist to get on track with your finances.

1. Choose your family’s financial leader.

Your finances will run more smoothly when you choose one family member to be responsible for your money. That doesn’t mean they make all the decisions alone. It means all financial communications and major decisions pass through their hands so that they can keep your family moving in the right direction. If you are not sure whether you or your spouse will be better at this, pick the person who is more organized, the person who checks the mail, or the one who is most plugged in to the online world.

2. Find a competent, caring financial advisor.

Your family CFO may need someone to act as their eyes and ears, to keep them informed, and give them guidance. When you select an advisor look for one who will listen to you, speak clearly, and make themselves available to help when needed. Be certain the advisor is a fiduciary who is compensated on a fee-only basis with at least ten years experience and the Certified Financial Planner™ mark.

3. Find a bank that will save you time.

Look for a bank that’s large enough to handle your needs, but small enough to offer responsive service. If a “relationship banker” is available to you, be certain to spend some time getting to know them and what they can do to make your financial life run more smoothly. If you are banking your medical practice, a community-based bank might be a good fit for you. If you have minimal banking needs, consider using a credit union instead. They tend to offer higher rates on deposits and lower rates on consumer loans and lines of credit. The best bank won’t make you money but it will save you time.

4. Find a responsive, knowledgeable tax preparer.

Medical specialists earn more than 95% of all other taxpayers. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you will give up about half your earnings to the taxman over the next 20-40 years of your practice but a solid tax person can help you pay no more than you absolutely must. To find the right tax preparer, get a name or two from your colleagues and ask your financial advisor for a third name. Interview all three candidates and choose the one who makes you feel most comfortable. Avoid tax advisors who sell insurance and investments. Schedule a November tax planning session for the current tax year.

5. Use a reasonable, approachable attorney.

The best way to use an attorney is early and often. To find the right one, ask your colleagues who they use, ask your tax preparer for a referral, and ask your financial advisor who they prefer, then select your attorney before you really need their help. The best choice is likely to be a business attorney who also handles trusts and estates. Ask them to prepare a simple will for you now, and plan to do more complex estate planning as your net worth grows.

6. Re-examine your disability insurance.

You may have purchased disability insurance as a resident, but you’re probably not “covered.” Why? Because your income has increased now that you’ve begun to practice. Disability coverage is one of the most complex forms of insurance and special provisions apply to physicians. Seek the help of a disability insurance specialist who has at least 10 years experience with disability insurance for doctors and ask them to explain the “definition of disability” for any policy you own or may be asked to purchase.

7. Form a general financial game plan.

Before you make any major financial decision, find out how much it will cost to achieve the goals that lead to financial security for your family. Ask your financial advisor to help you put together a plan to refinance your student loans, save for college, and build a fund for retirement. Try to answer the question, “How much do I need to save each month to make sure I’m on track?”

8. Purchase a reasonable home.

Note that we didn’t say, “Build the nicest home you can afford.” Many, many physicians jeopardize their ability to achieve financial security by buying an expensive home whose payments make it challenging (or impossible) to save for other goals like college and retirement. Think about what your family needs in a home, form a budget, and stick with it. Once you become accustomed to living in a larger home, there’s no going back to a smaller one.

9. Load up on life insurance… term life insurance, that is.

Ask your financial advisor to help you calculate how much money you may need in order to pay off your home, create a college savings fund, establish an income for your survivors, and cover the cost of their retirement. Remember to diversify your policies the same way you would diversify an investment portfolio. Plan to pare back your coverage over time as you make progress toward your goals. Avoid permanent or “cash value” life insurance, especially variable universal life (VUL).

10. Re-discover your employee benefits.

If you work for a hospital or clinic, ask your human resources person to provide a list of all the benefits available to you – retirement, insurance… even parking passes – and schedule a time to meet with them to review the list. Make sure you’re getting the benefits you earned. If you are self-employed, talk to your financial advisor about ways to save taxes while you save for retirement, including a solo 401(k), profit sharing plan and defined benefit plan or “cash balance” plan.

11. Get a PLUP.

No self-respecting physician would willingly go without malpractice insurance but many will drive cars, walk dogs and coach sports teams without the type of insurance that protects them from claims that arise from accidents in these activities: a Personal Lines Umbrella Policy (PLUP). Ask your property and casualty agent to integrate your PLUP’s coverage with your home and auto insurance.

12. Establish an emergency savings account.

If you and your spouse/partner both work, set aside at least three months worth of living expenses. If only one of you earns an income, set aside six months worth of living expenses. Put this money in a safe place like a bank certificate of deposit or money market fund. You may never need it, but if you do you’ll have it.

13. Get a handle on your student loans.

Refinancing a student loan means getting a new loan to pay off an old one. The key is to get better terms—a lower interest rate or a lower payment—on the new loan without sacrificing protections, pledging more collateral or adding a co-signer to the new loan. A sound refinancing decision requires physicians to know the costs and benefits of their current student loans and be able to compare them to the costs and benefits of options for new loans. Think twice before you refinance federal loans using a private loan.

14. Start saving for college.

Kids grow up in a hurry, and the cost of college education has historically grown at a rate more than twice the average rate of inflation (about 7% per year). After you’ve fully funded your retirement plan and your emergency savings account, this is probably the next best place to be saving and, for most physicians, a Section 529 college savings plan is the best vehicle. Check to see if your state’s 529 plan offers tax incentives.

15. Organize your financial life.

At home, make a place for everything: bank statements, investment records, estate planning documents, insurance policies, tax documents, etc. Develop a system for keeping track of passwords so that you and your spouse/partner both know how to access your online accounts. Consider the installation of a safe for valuables and extra boxes of checks. (Most embezzlement situations we see begin when the nanny or housekeeper steals a spare set of checks.) If you use a cloud-based service to store everything, make sure your spouse has access in case something bad happens to you.

Get Started!

As a new physician, it may be challenging to find the time and energy to pull all of this together. Set aside some time this weekend, tackle one of these items, then come back to this list every now and then until you manage to get your family’s financial planning all done.

Should you freeze your credit? [Certain Times]

Did you know today is National Grouch Day? When I think of the top ten things that might make a physician grouchy, Identity Theft must be near the top of the list.

All the paperwork and the hassle it takes to reclaim the essence of who you are—your identity—is a total waste of a physician’s precious time.

And after hearing that one of my clients has had his identity stolen FOUR TIMES in a single year, I started thinking about ways to head off the problem.

The ultimate solution—nay, the Nuclear Option—is to lock down or “freeze” your credit. After all, what the identity thieves are really after is cash, and they use your ID to quietly open credit accounts in your name… then suck them dry.

When you freeze your credit, you seal your credit record from the prying eyes of anyone who would be interested in lending you money (legitimately or illegitimately) so that no credit can be opened in your name without your knowledge. And if you actually want someone to grant you credit, you must supply the credit reporting agency with a PIN to lift or “thaw” that security freeze.

To see exactly what is involved, I recently froze my own credit.

It took me about 30 minutes and cost me $30 to freeze my credit with all three agencies. The hardest part of the whole thing was finding the exact URLs for the webpages that allowed me to do this, so I’m giving them to you today in hopes that it will save you time:

So the credit freeze is quick, cheap, and easy, but should you do it?

I say the answer is “yes” unless you (a) plan to apply for a loan in the next 30 days or (b) you think you’re likely to lose the 10-digit PIN that can lift the freeze.

Physicians who regularly apply for credit, like those who use credit lines in the practices they own, should also think twice before proceeding.

Everybody else has LOTS to gain from this, like avoiding all the headaches that go with sorting out the carnage for cratered credit.

Don’t worry about your existing loans and lines of credit. They won’t be impacted at all. And freezing your credit does nothing to reduce your credit score.

Ultimately, every physician must weigh the odds of being victimized against the administrivia of instituting the freeze. But to me, the investment of time seems like a no-brainer, and the peace of mind is priceless.

Seven steps to finding the right financial advisor

As a physician with substantial income (or income potential), you will most likely be contacted by a number of individuals offering various types of financial products and services throughout your career. If you are in the market for an advisor, you will want to know the qualifications and experience level of each one you are considering. Unlike medicine, which has a standardized path that physicians must take to gain the education, training, and experience necessary to obtain board certification, the insurance and financial services industry does not. While advisors must pass certain tests to earn a license in securities or insurance, for the most part, anyone can call himself or herself a financial advisor. Credentials and Certifications

Finding the right financial advisor to help you build your financial future can be as challenging as choosing the right doctor to care for your health, so it is important to look for several key credentials. Following is a brief summary of some of the most recognizable designations or certifications that you might see among financial service professionals and what it takes to earn them.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA): CPAs provide you with advice on tax matters and help you prepare and submit your income tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service. To be a CPA, candidates must pass a 14-hour computer-based test with 4 sections: auditing and attestation; financial accounting and reporting; regulation; and business environment and concepts. There are also work experience requirements that must be met. Not all accountants are CPAs. CPAs must meet stringent continuing education requirements and are regulated by states as well as their profession’s code of ethics.

Personal Financial Specialist (CPA/PFS): A PFS is a CPA who has demonstrated both knowledge and significant practical experience in the area of personal financial planning. Only CPAs who are members of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants can earn this designation.

Certified Financial Planner (CFP): The CFP certification is one of the most recognized and prestigious credentials in the financial services industry. CFPs have completed a series of courses in investments, insurance, income taxes, estate, and retirement planning. They have also passed a comprehensive 10-hour certification exam. Additionally, CFPs must have at least 3 years of planning experience and meet stringent continuing education requirements as well as have a bachelor’s degree. While an estimated 700,000 people currently call themselves financial planners, only 1 in 10 holds the CFP designation. If you need help with more than 1 issue in your financial life or if you are targeting long-term goals like retirement or college, make sure a CFP is on your list.

Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC): ChFCs have credentials similar to CFPs. ChFCs have completed a series of courses and exams covering financial, insurance, and estate planning subjects. The ChFC program provides financial planners and others in the financial services industry with in-depth knowledge of the skills needed to perform comprehensive financial planning for their clients.

Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU): CLUs are insurance agents who have completed comprehensive educational courses and demonstrated expertise in different areas of estate and insurance planning. This designation is specifically designed to enhance the knowledge of people employed in the life insurance industry. CLUs must also have at least 3 years of professional experience.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): CFAs have expertise in investing and portfolio management. They have passed 3 exams based on investment principles, applied financial analysis, and investment management. Each exam is approximately 6 hours in length. Additionally, CFAs must have at least 3 years of experience in the investment decision-making process. Generally, the CFA designation is recognized as the definitive standard for measuring competence and integrity in the fields of portfolio management and investment analysis.

The Steps

Financial planning takes the guesswork out of managing your finances and helps you understand the implications of each financial decision you make. Everyone has different goals, so it is important to have a unique plan that works for you and your financial situation, both now and in the future. The following 7 steps will help you find an advisor who understands and meets your unique goals and needs.

1 Make a Well-Founded List of Prospective Advisors

Begin your research by conducting an Internet search using the terms “physician financial advisor” or “physician financial planner.” Look for signs of expertise such as published articles, a book, or maybe even a blog. A search outside of your community means you increase the odds of finding the best-qualified advice for the price you may pay. A search inside of your state means that the advisors you find are more likely to understand your financial environment, including your state’s tax laws, economy, job market, unique investment opportunities, and other factors that may impact the success of your financial plan. If you are concerned about the advisor’s location, keep in mind that today many financial advisors work with clients by telephone, e-mail, and video conference on a regular basis.

Next, it is important to search a few specific organizations. CFP Board (www.cfp.net) is a nonprofit organization acting in the public interest by fostering professional standards in personal financial planning through its setting and enforcement of the education, examination, experience, ethics, and other requirements for CFP certification. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (www.napfa.org) is the country’s leading professional association of fee-only financial advisors. Finally, the Financial Planning Association (www.plannersearch.org) is the largest membership organization for CFP professionals in the United States and also includes members who support the financial planning process.

To round out your list of prospective advisors, ask your colleagues, your accountant, and your attorney who they recommend. Ask them why they believe this advisor is the best one for you. If their reason sounds valid, add the advisor to your list.

2. Select for Quality

Every prospective financial advisor on your list should have at least 1 real credential. Beware of generic pseudocredentials like financial advisor, financial consultant, and wealth manager. These titles merely signify that an advisor is in the business and may hold a license. Whereas most licenses require an advisor to pay a fee and pass an exam, these may be easily acquired with a minimal commitment of time and effort.

In contrast, certifications usually require a higher level of commitment and dedication. Formal training, rigorous examination, continuing education, years of experience, and oversight by a board or governing body are part of attaining and keeping a certificate, so certification is an outward indicator of the quality of advice you may receive. Narrow your list by crossing advisors off your list if they do not have at least 1 of the previously listed credentials.

3. Do Your Homework

Learn more about the advisors who remain on your list. Visit their websites, and search for answers to questions such as the following:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • What type of clients do you work with?
  • What services do you provide?
  • What is your specialty?
  • What is your approach to financial planning?

4. Conduct an Interview

Every advisor on your newly trimmed list warrants a preliminary phone call. This is an interview, and you are the interviewer, not the interviewee, so make sure that you get the answers you need.

First and foremost, ask the candidate how he or she is paid. Planners can be paid in several ways: through fees, commissions, or a combination of both. Your financial planner should clearly state how he or she will be paid for the services to be provided. Although there is no single method of paying for financial services that is inherently better than another, you will nevertheless want to consider, and discuss with your planner, how the method of compensation could affect the advice you receive or the way you work with the advisor. You and your financial planner should discuss these issues, including any conflicts of interest that may be created by the method of compensation.

Then ask whether the advisor has ever been publicly disciplined for any unlawful or unethical actions in his or her professional career. Several government and professional regulatory organizations, such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, your state insurance and securities departments, and the CFP Board keep records on the disciplinary history of financial planners and advisors. If a CFP professional violates any of the CFP Board’s standards, he is subject to disciplinary action up to permanent revocation of certification. Ask which organizations the planner is regulated by and contact these groups to conduct a background check. You can also visit http://brokercheck.finra.org.

Make appointments to visit advisors who remain on your list after this screening round.

5. Speak with at Least 3 Prospective Advisors

Now you are ready to make the biggest mistake that most people make when selecting an advisor: engaging the very first advisor you meet. While this may solve your immediate problem, it may lead to less-than-stellar results over the long haul. Why? Almost all advisors hold up well during the first interview. They have been interviewed hundreds of times and are ready to sign you up today. Resist the temptation to sign up for services at the first meeting. Instead, collect information and get a feel for how you and the advisor might work together over the longer haul.

6.  Consider What You Have Learned

Think about your interview with each advisor. Ask yourself these last few questions before making your final decision:

  • How well did each financial advisor listen to me? The hallmark of a good relationship with your financial advisor will be your ability to communicate your needs. This means that he or she must do an excellent job of listening to you in order to understand how he or she can help.
  • How clearly did each financial advisor express himself or herself? Even if you receive the very best financial advice from your new advisor, you might not follow the advice unless you fully understand it. Consider whether the advisor “speaks your language.”
  • What promises did each financial advisor make? Consider how each advisor attempted to win you as a client. The best advisors attempt to set clear, realistic expectations about your work with them during the very first meeting. They know the foundation for a great, long-term advisor–client relationship is their ability to make promises and deliver on them.

7. Select a Financial Advisor Who Suits You

When you finally decide which advisor to hire, you may realize something that good financial advisors already know: the financial advisor you choose may be a lot like you. People have a natural tendency to trust others who are much like themselves, so the advisor you choose will likely share your interests, your outlook, and even some of the same financial goals you hold.

Summary

No matter which financial advisor you choose, make sure the one thing that you have in common is an uncompromised interest in your financial health. Start your search for a competent financial advisor today and begin enjoying better financial health tomorrow.


W. Ben Utley, CFP, is the lead advisor with Physician Family Financial Advisors, a fee-only financial planning firm helping doctors throughout the United States to save for college and invest for retirement. He can be reached at 541-463-0899 or by e-mail to ben@physicianfamily.com.

Lawrence B. Keller, CFP, CLU, ChFC, RHU, LUTCF, is the founder of Physician Financial Services, a New York–based firm specializing in income protection and wealth accumulation strategies for physicians. He can be reached at 516-677-6211 or by e-mail to Lkeller@physicianfinancialservices.com with comments or questions.

 

 

7 Steps to selecting the right financial advisor | W. Ben Utley CFP® writes for Orthopreneur

Finding the right financial advisor to help you build your financial future can be as difficult as choosing the right doctor to care for your health.

The benefits of good advice are obvious: increased control over financial matters, a sense of confidence and security about money and a more “wealthy” outlook on life in general. Yet many people go their entire lives without so much as a financial checkup.

Why?

Like a visit to the doctor, a financial checkup means that you might find yourself standing “financially naked” before someone who would examine you from head to toe in order to diagnose your condition. They might even make some less–than-flattering remarks about your financial health before prescribing a treatment.

Don’t let the discomfort and fear associated with the all-too-taboo subject of money keep you from seeking the care of a competent financial professional. Follow these seven steps to improve your chances of finding the right advisor before you expose any of the details of your personal financial life.

Step 1: Make a Well-Founded List of Prospective Advisors
It’s easy to open your local phone book and look under “F” to find a financial planning consultant in your area, but this could be your first mistake. Don’t limit your search for an advisor. 

Begin by visiting these two websites:
www.napfa.org, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors
www.fpanet.org, the Financial Planners Association

Also, perform an Internet search using the terms “physician financial advisor” and add a couple of advisors to your list this way. Look for signs of expertise such as published articles, a blog or maybe even a YouTube channel.

A search outside of your community means you increase the odds of finding the best-qualified advice for the price you may pay. A search inside of your state means that the advisors you find are more likely to understand your financial environment, including your state’s tax laws, economy, job market, unique investment opportunities and other factors that may impact the success of your financial plan. If you’re concerned about the advisor’s location, keep in mind that today, many financial advisors work with clients by telephone, email and video conference on a regular basis.

To round out your list of prospective advisors, ask your colleagues, your accountant and your attorney whom they might recommend. Ask them why they believe this advisor is the best one for you. If their reason sounds valid, add the advisor to your list.

Step 2: Select for Quality
Every prospective financial advisor on your list should have at least one real credential. Beware of generic pseudo-credentials like “financial advisor,” “financial consultant,” “wealth manager” and even “vice president.” These titles merely signify that an advisor is in the business and may hold a license. While most licenses require an advisor to pay a fee and pass an exam, these may be easily acquired with a minimal commitment of time and effort.

In contrast, certifications usually require a higher level of commitment and dedication. Formal training, rigorous examination, continuing education, years of experience and oversight by a board or governing body are part of attaining and keeping a certificate, so certification is an outward indicator of the quality of advice you may receive.

Narrow your list by crossing advisors off your list if they don’t have at least one of these credentials:
• Certified Public Accountant (CPA): Certified Public Accountants may have broad financial knowledge, but are particularly useful if  you own and operate your own practice. They often specialize in business planning or tax planning.
• Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): Chartered Financial Analysts seldom delve into matters of personal finance since most CFAs specialize in the management of investment portfolios. If you have a large ($5 million or more) portfolio, consider seeking the advice of a CFA.
• Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®): The Certified Financial Planner mark is the most sought-after credential among advisors who practice financial planning. While there are currently estimated to be 700,000 people calling themselves “financial planners,” only one in ten holds the CFP mark. If you need help with more than one issue in your financial life or if you are targeting long-term goals like retirement or college, make sure a CFP is on your list. Step 3: Do Your Homework
Learn more about the advisors who remain on your list. Visit their websites to find answers to questions like:
• What services does the financial advisor render? Find someone who solves problems like those you may have.
• What kind of clients is the financial advisor seeking? Make sure his or her answer describes a person like you.
• What is the financial advisor’s specialty? Beware nondescript statements like “high net worth individuals” or non-specialization statements like “businesses, individuals and nonprofit organizations.” 

Try to determine the kinds of clients they usually serve, and whether or not that description matches people in your same stage of life, or who share your same age, income and occupation.

Step 4: Ask a Few Key Questions
Every advisor on your newly-trimmed list warrants a preliminary phone call. This is an interview and you are the interviewer, not the interviewee, so make sure that you get the answers you need. Here are the questions to ask, and what you might learn from the answers:

1. How are you paid? There are only three answers to this question: commissions, fees plus commissions or “fee-only.” If you know exactly what product you are looking for, you might find it acceptable to work with a commissioned salesperson (a stockbroker or insurance agent, for example). However, when a financial advisor offers advice on products he sells in exchange for a commission, conflicts of interest may prevent him from giving you advice you can comfortably rely on. If you want objective advice, rule out prospective advisors who are compensated directly for services rendered. Advisors who accept only direct payment (checks, credit cards or direct debits) are known as “fee-only” advisors because they refuse to accept payments (like commissions or referral fees) from any source other than you, the client.

2. For whom will you be working, when you serve me? This may seem like a redundant question, since the advisor probably announced the name of her business when she answered your call. But the answer here tells you a great deal about how you may be treated. If your advisor is a “registered representative,” then she owes her first duty to the company that employs her, not to you. However, if your advisor is a fiduciary, she owes her first duty to you by law. You know you’re working with a fiduciary when she is registered as an investment advisor with her state or the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and she uses a contract or engagement letter to form a business relationship with you.

3. How long have you been in business? There’s no substitute for experience. Look for at least ten years of experience delivering financial advice to people like you.

Make appointments to visit advisors who remain on your list after this screening round. You are almost finished with your search.

Step 5: Speak with at Least Three Prospective Advisors before Making a Decision Now you are ready to make the biggest mistake that most people make when selecting an advisor. What mistake is that? The mistake is to engage the very first advisor you meet. While this may solve your immediate problem, it may lead to less–than-stellar results over the long haul.

Why?

Almost all advisors hold up well during the first interview. They’ve been interviewed hundreds of times and they’re ready to sign you up today. Resist the temptation to sign up for services at the first meeting. Instead, collect information and get a feel for how you and the advisor might work together over the longer haul.

Let the advisor walk you through his typical get-to-know-you process, but make sure to come away with the answers to a few important questions, like:
• What does your ideal client look like in terms of age, employment and financial situation?
• How will you solve my problem?
• With whom will I work? You, or an assistant?
• How do you prefer to work with clients? By phone, in person, by email?
• What will I pay for your services this year? Over the next five years?

Asking these questions will reveal whether or not the advisor might do a good job of serving you. Ask a few more questions to find out whether you and the advisor might see eye-to-eye on the finer points of your financial life:
• What drew you into the profession? Why did you stay?
• What one thing do you do better than all the other financial advisors I might meet?
• What’s been your best experience with a client? Your worst?
• What do you expect from me as your client?

With this last set of questions, there are really no “right” answers. However, you might receive stronger and better advice from someone who shares your interests, beliefs or outlook on life.

Step 6: Consider What You’ve Learned
Think about your interview with each advisor. Ask yourself these last few questions before making your final decision:
1. How well did each financial advisor listen to me? The hallmark of a good relationship with your financial advisor will be your ability to communicate your needs to her. This means that she must do an excellent job of listening to you in order to understand how she can help. Consider the amount of time she spent listening to you versus the time she spent selling her services. 
2. How clearly did each financial advisor express himself? Even if you receive the very best financial advice from your new advisor, you might not follow the advice unless you fully understand it. Consider whether or not the advisor “speaks your language.” Make  sure you are comfortable with his style of communication.
3. What promises did each financial advisor make? Consider how each advisor attempted to win you as a client. Some advisors  may attempt to dazzle you with their past performance records or wow you with the big clients they’ve handled. The best advisors attempt to set clear, realistic expectations about your work with them during the very first meeting. They know the foundation for a great long term advisor/client relationship is their ability to make promises and deliver on them. Look for promises that include a clear statement of services and fees, regular contact and availability and a duty to act in your best interest.

Step 7: Select a Financial Advisor Who Suits You
When you finally decide which advisor to hire, you may realize something that good financial advisors already know: the financial advisor you choose may be a lot like you. People have a natural tendency to trust others who are much like themselves, so the advisor you choose will likely share your interests, your outlook and even some of the same financial goals you hold.

No matter which financial advisor you choose, make sure the one thing that you have in common is an uncompromised interest in your financial health. Start your search for a competent financial advisor today and begin enjoying better financial health tomorrow.

W. Ben Utley, CFP®, is an attending advisor with Physician Family Financial Advisors, a fee-only financial planning firm helping physicians throughout the U.S. to make a plan and get on track with saving for college and invest for retirement.

This article originally appeared in Orthopreneur with the title "7 Steps to Selecting the Right Financial Advisor".

 

Physician Financial Advisor Specialists: Are they serving you, or serving your money?

I recently read this post in the Bogleheads.org forum, where a doctor asked, "any one know of a solid financial advisor that specializes in physicians?" I thought, "Hey, that's me!"

But I was really disappointed with the replies I read. Most of the comments could be summarized like this: advisors who "specialize" in doctors are nothing more than gold diggers, and doctors' investments are nothing special.

So here's the comment I posted:

As a fee-only financial advisor who has spent the past 15+ years serving the needs of physician families, I agree with much of what has been said here. Specifically, I agree that the *investing* needs of physicians are no different than the needs of anyone else who has above average income.

However, there seems to be an implicit assumption that all financial advisors do is render investment advice. There is more to financial success than investing well.

Everything else advisors do might easily be categorized as "financial planning," including advice and guidance regarding insurance, taxes, estate planning, banking, budgeting, major purchases, etc.

Money touches almost every aspect of a person's life, so good financial advice should be based on a person's life, not merely their investments.

I have personally dealt with the major life events that physicians and their families face: birth, death, marriage, divorce, practice buy-ins, malpractice suit, bankruptcy, identity theft, embezzlement, and yes, even retirement. I can assure you that every one of these events contains at least one wrinkle or nuance that an unspecialized advisor might miss, and in some cases, there are substantial issues that might slide by unspecialized advisors.

Physicians have their own culture, politics, communication style, family dynamics and outlook on life that lead them to either accept or reject advice that might help them build, maintain or enjoy financial success. So the delivery of the advice is as crucial as the content of the advice.

So if you are a physician and you're looking for advice, look for a specialist. But be warned: the real thing is rare. Most advisors who "specialize in serving doctors" have nothing more than a specialization in *marketing* to doctors, and those of us who are true specialists are selecting our clients as carefully as they are selecting us.

Regards, W. Ben Utley,  CFP® Physician Family Financial Advisors Inc.

What's your take on this issue?