Don't Let Luck Lead Your Advisor Search

September 16, 2008
Shirley M. Mueller, M.D.

Physician's Money Digest, March31 2003, Volume 10, Issue 6

It may not be as philosophical aquestion as Hamlet posed, butthe "to hire or not to hire a financialadvisor" question still requiresthe same prompt attention—especiallyif you're in need of financial help.Like other interested physician-investors,you're probably plagued bythe same doubt: Will a financial advisorreally help me or will they just bea waste of good money?

Unfortunately, the articles that arewritten about this subject tend to beboth dry and unhelpful. In addition,authors generally insist that anyonewith a credential (eg, CFP®) will produceresults, which is not necessarilythe case. So then, just what shouldyou look for once you've decided tohire a financial planner? There are 2essential criteria your potential advisorshould meet.

STANDARD REQUIREMENTS

First, your advisor's practiceshould offer full services—beyondmoney management. Your advisorshould also instruct you on investmentplanning, trust and estate planning,charitable giving strategies, andwealth transfer strategies. If you'reconsidering an advisor in a largerfirm, check to see whether they offerbanking and family services.

When your advisor's practiceoffers full services, you benefit in 2ways. You won't have to shoparound for other financial services.All of your financial needs will betaken care of by your advisor. Inaddition, these needs will be takencare of by 1 practice, which willlikely make your total cost less.

Second, the practice that youradvisor belongs to should be large.Practice size is important because alarge practice ensures continuity inthe unfortunate case that somethinghappens to your advisor. For example,if your advisor leaves the firm ordies, you won't have to find areplacement—saving both yourtime and your sanity.

THE SUM OF ALL PARTS

If your chosen advisor meets thesecriteria, most likely you'll be workingwith Certified Financial Planner™practitioners, lawyers, trained investmentplanning specialists, and a hostof other professionals. Choosing theright firm means you won't have toworry about degrees, because thefirm already did the footwork for you.

Additionally, you'll be treated as awhole person. Your advisor won't payattention to only a portion of yourfinancial needs—they'll keep all ofyour financial needs in mind.Therefore, your money managementwill be done in unison with otherfinancial factors in your life.

So, in your search for a qualifiedfinancial advisor, it's a good idea tokeep in mind 3 things: You deserve tobe respected, provided excellent service,and treated as a whole person.When you find someone who meetsthese requirements, you will knowthat you are making the right decision—and reap the benefits.

Shirley M. Mueller is boarded inneurology and psychiatry. Shewas a practicing neurologistuntil 1995. Since then, she hasretrained and is active in theinvestment and financial planningarea. Dr. Mueller is a senior wealthadvisor at Star Wealth Management in Indianapolis,Ind. She welcomes questions orcomments at MyMoneyMD@aol.com.