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?