How Patients and Portfolios May Be the Same

Physicians and Certified Financial Planners take a similar approach to their client's well-being, be it physically or financially. Just as a doctor follows the oath to do no harm, so too must a financial planner.

There is a protocol to follow after a new patient enters your office. Staff is expected to meet, greet, welcome, and have the patient fill out forms. This allows the staff and doctor to ascertain demographics, responsibility of payment, reason for visiting the office, and the patient’s primary complaint. The doctor, after carefully reviewing this information, asks a series of questions before rendering an examination and suggesting any testing (x-ray, blood work, CT scan, MRI, etc.). The facts and information gathered are analyzed and services suggested with the goal to help the patient.

MD and Certified Financial Planner

Just as a physician who cares for a patient follows the oath to do no harm, a Certified Financial Planner fiduciary professional (CFP) has a parallel fiduciary responsibility. The presentation and selection of a financial portfolio by a CFP has similar overlap, i.e., by attempting to meet an investor’s needs via obtaining important data necessary to initiate the financial planning and analysis process with factors that include but are not limited to: demographic, family history, saved assets vs. debt, risk tolerance, goals, and time frame for needing the anticipated invested portfolio.

Generally, an investment policy statement (IPS) is formulated and becomes the road map of the investor’s risk/reward and approved asset investment categories. This is similar to a report of test results after consulting with a patient and explaining the course of care needed to obtain anticipated results. The CFP fiduciary professional is responsible for following the investor’s wishes as set forth in the IPS. Initially, the process is more intensive as the CFP advisor-investor meet, data is gathered and assets are appropriately placed in approved investment classes resulting in a portfolio of financial products.

However, portfolios need to be monitored as economic factors, personal situations, and other occurrences may require the formulated portfolio to be rebalanced or fine-tuned and kept within the parameters of the IPS. The IPS may allow for some variation in investing approach or the client can ask for specific modification.

Observational Care and Monitoring

The suggestion of additional professional opinions or intervention is always an option depending on patient need. As patient care continues and positive results are obtained, the care may be curtailed and the doctor can present options to the patient regarding further needed and suggested services. Observational care may be indicated including lifestyle and nutritional modifications, appliance support, etc. The patient is anticipated to achieve a greater level of health with this care. In other words, the advent of agreed to and necessary observational care allows the patient to minimize negative factors which most likely precipitated their problem and maximize the benefits by being monitored by their doctor.

Patient and MD Compliance

The key for patient results is commitment to and compliance with the physician’s recommendations for care. This is also true of an MD, commitment to and compliance with prudent investing. Whether patient or doctor, both require a stoic approach as the perceived value now will yield greater benefit in the future. The importance of systematic savings whether for healthcare or financial savings, has been seen time and time again. Once a decision is made to achieve the stated goal, competent assistance is sought to complete the task and achieve either or both goals. Actions steps are undertaken to make an intangible thought very tangible and ultimately beneficial.

Importance of Following Good Advice

A CFP fiduciary professional ultimately can achieve the same long term benefit for their client (patient) by monitoring the portfolio—rebalancing, changing, adding to, and having ongoing discussions to maximize the investor’s reward with less risk exposure. Understanding there are never any guarantees, but realizing by working closely with the fiduciary financial advisor who has the knowledge and experience to guide an investor through the financial maze of pitfalls and mistakes is a smart choice. Similar to that of a patient contacting a physician for help, the provider of service has the same opportunity to ensure the health and well-being of their own portfolio and resultant anticipated benefits. Working harder seems to be the reality of healthcare without the resultant financial benefit. The importance of good sound financial advice and monitoring goes hand-in-hand with what a doctor offers their patients. Metaphorically, if you find your portfolio is ill it most likely is in need of intervention to get your financial plan improved and better! Remember, it takes time to get sick and time to get better. Selecting a CFP fiduciary advisor with your wellbeing being paramount allows you to reap the benefits of sound financial planning practice and anticipated results. Especially important, expecting your invested assets are available when you may need those most.

H. William Wolfson, DC, FICC, MS, MPASSM is a financial consultant and advisor. After passing the rigorous Certified Financial Planner examination, Dr. Wolfson obtained a Master of Science in Personal Financial Planning from the College for Financial Planning. He was subsequently awarded by the College a Master Planner Advanced Studies. Dr. Wolfson is a member of the Financial Planning Association (FPA). Dr. Wolfson retired after 27 years of active practice and remains active volunteering his time to the continued education and success of colleagues in assorted professional organizations. Dr. Wolfson may be contacted for consultation at drhwwolfson@gmail.com.