Seek Advisors to Achieve Financial Freedom

Physician's Money Digest, February 2006, Volume 13, Issue 2

As a busy physician, mostof your time is spentfocusing on your patientsand your practice,leaving limited time tofocus on your own finances. Unfortunately,this lack of time may leave youvulnerable to bad advice, especiallysince some firms target physicians bypeddling investments of average or poorquality, knowing you don't have time toscrutinize and challenge their merits.

Who's Watching Your Money? The

17 Paladin Principles for Selecting a

Financial Advisor

According to Jack Waymire, authorof (Wiley; 2003), "Selectinga competent, trustworthy professionalis risky since all advisors presentthemselves as experts, even thoughit's not true 90% of the time and potentialclients don't know the right questionsto ask to distinguish these pretendersfrom the real experts."

Ask yourself whether you can recognizethe one of 10 experts that couldreally help secure your long-term well-being.Fortunately, you can improveyour odds by using some criteria torecognize the better advisors. Ask yourfriends and colleagues for exceptionaladvisors (ie, those that they are"extremely satisfied" or "very happy" using) that they have used for at least 3years. Another excellent resource tofind solid advisors is Paladin is a free service thatwill give you the names of three advisorsnear you who have been prescreenedfor quality.

Once you have several candidates inmind, take the time to interview them,which you can do via phone conferenceto save time. When conductinginterviews, evaluate their merits accordingto the following five criteria:

1. Character and care. Spendenough time to size up the advisor'sintegrity and trustworthiness. Do theirquestions and approach indicate a realinterest in your deeper concerns anddreams as a unique individual?

2.Competence. Scrutinize their educationaland professional credentials.Are their degrees from top institutions?Is there any additional evidence of intellectualand professional excellence, suchas the Chartered Financial Analyst®charter or Certified Financial Plannerpractitioner? You have had years of rigorouseducation and training—requirethe same from your advisor.

3. Cost effectiveness. Is the advisorfee-based? Commissions can createincentives to be short-term-oriented.Are fees clearly disclosed and explainedupfront (especially hidden fees withinfunds, annuities, and insurance contracts)?Is there a clear articulation ofvalue net of all the fees that you pay?

4. Chemistry. Does this person putyou at ease? Do they make sense?Would they watch out for your bestinterests with minimal supervision?

5. Consistency. Do they specializein anything? Do they follow a consistentdiscipline? Do they take an educationalapproach and apply an investment philosophythat stands the test of time?

Selecting a good financial advisor isone of the most important financialdecisions you will make. Take the timeto educate yourself, critically evaluatepotential candidates, and don't settlefor mediocrity.

is president of the

Ridgewood Group, a Short Hills, NJ-based

money management firm focusing on value

investing that is rated 5-stars, their highest

rating, by the Paladin Registry. The

Ridgewood Group, founded by Mr. Majmudar and his partner,

Ms. Ahalya Nava, a Harvard Business School graduate,

helps clients around the country manage their wealth more

intelligently. They welcome questions or comments at 973-544-6970 or For more information,


Kaushal B. Majmudar

The Ridgewood Group is conducting aphysician's financial health survey as a partof our ongoing research to understand andaddress how physicians deal with the manyfinancial and other challenges that they facetoday. Your feedback today will help hundredsof other physicians, and youranswers will be kept confidential. To accessthe survey, please visit

In addition, if you are interested, we cansend you a summary report of our findings(all answers are anonymous), which willprovide insight into how your peersanswered these questions. We know yourtime is valuable, and as a thank you for yourtime online, which should only be approximately5 minutes for 20 short questions, wewill provide you with several gifts, includingentering you into a drawing for one of severalavailable gift certificates. (Please see giftdetails provided at end of survey.)