Many physicians find they do not have the time or energy to manage their finances properly. Demanding work hours, time spent with family and friends, or doing the hobbies they enjoy leaves very little time to devote to researching and implementing a wealth building strategy effectively. A recent study found that the average physician will work approximately 111,000 hours during their career but will devote less than 10 hours planning for the financial lifestyle they want and how to reach their goals. Many physicians eventually recognize that they need help and start seeking a financial advisor. However, finding one they trust who fits their needs and budget can be challenging.
A good starting place is identifying your needs. Are you just looking for investment help or do you want help creating a full financial plan? Do you need estate or tax planning help? Do you need help finding ways to repay debt or create charitable entities? Your needs will likely guide which type of advisor is right for you.
If you are just looking to invest, a robo-advisor or online financial planning service may suffice. They tend to be less expensive options and can help you create an investment portfolio based around your rate of return objectives and risk tolerance. However, the scope of their work may be more limited.
If you are looking for an advisor who does more comprehensive planning, if your situation is more complex, or if you want to develop a more personal relationship, a traditional financial advisor may be a good fit. These types of advisors provide specialized services and can help create a comprehensive plan focused on areas of retirement planning, risk management, education planning, asset protection, and charitable gifting. Some may offer estate planning assistance or tax preparation services as well. These types of advisors tend to be higher cost and they may require a minimum portfolio balance such as $500,000.
To further narrow your search, a next good step is determining how you would like to pay. Many advisors charge a percentage based on assets under management. Robo and online services often charge between but can range higher or lower depending on account size. Other advisors may charge a flat fee, an hourly rate, or a retainer. Finding an advisor who provides all the services you need and offers the payment structure you prefer, should help you significantly narrow your search.
As your list of potential candidates gets smaller, it is important to vet the advisors’ background and credentials. The term “financial advisor” isn’t tied to specific credentials and has been used widely in the financial services industry. It is important to research exactly what services the advisor can and cannot legally assist you with. You will also want to check if they have had any disciplinary problems such as fraud. You can typically find this information by requesting the advisor’s Form ADV or looking up disciplinary actions on FINRA’s website:
Another important question to ask is whether they are a fiduciary and how they are compensated. Fiduciaries are required to act in their client’s best interest rather than their own. If an advisor charges a fee determined by assets under management, there is a high probability they are a fiduciary. If they receive a commission from a third party for selling a product, they may not be. It is possible the advisor is a combination of both, also referred to as fee based. These advisors may charge a fee for the investment assets they manage and the financial services they provide, but may also help their clients obtain life, disability, and long-term care insurance, or other products not available in advisory accounts for which they receive a commission from the insurance company or third-party.
If you still aren’t sure where to start looking for an advisor you trust, start by asking friends and family. If they work with someone and have enjoyed the experience, you may enjoy working with their advisor as well. It is always important to do your due diligence, but this may be a nice shortcut to find someone with whom you want to develop a long-term working relationship.
Jeff Witz, CFP® welcome readers’ questions. He can be reached at 800-883-8555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
200 North LaSalle Street – Suite 2300 – Chicago, Illinois 60601
312-419-3733 – Toll Free 800-883-8555 – Fax 312-332-4908 – www.mediqus.com
Investment advisory services offered through MEDIQUS Asset Advisors, Inc. Securities offered through Ausdal Financial Partners, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC ∙ 5187 Utica Ridge Rd ∙ Davenport, IA 52807 ∙ 563-326-2064 ∙ MEDIQUS Asset Advisors and Ausdal Financial Partners, Inc. are independently owned and operated.
 2014 work/life profiles of today’s U.S. physician. [Jun;2018 ];http://www.amainsure.com/intro-to-work-life-profiles-of-todays-us-physician.html Physicians. April. 2018 2:2018.
 Miller, M. (2020, November 3). Robo-advisor fee comparison. ValuePenguin. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.valuepenguin.com/comparing-fees-robo-advisors
 Kitces, M. (2019, February 1). Average aum fee schedule steady as advisor profits decline. Nerd’s Eye View | Kitces.com. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.kitces.com/blog/average-aum-fee-schedule-for-financial-advisors-holds-steady-as-growth-and-profits-fall-in-2015-fa-insight-benchmarking-study/