Did you know that according to research, teachers are more likely than doctors to become millionaires? How is that possible? Well, some of it has to do with the social pressure we face. However, a lot has to do with many of us thinking that because we are highly educated, we can also be effective financial advisors for ourselves. The reality is that for most of us, this is not true. For most of us, hiring a financial advisor for doctors is a critical first step in building a financial plan and retiring early and on our terms.
How do we do that?
Types of financial advisors
There are various types of financial advisors, each with distinct qualifications, compensation models, and areas of expertise. Doctors should be familiar with the different categories, such as fee-only advisors and commission-based advisors. Either one is fine as long as their recommendations fit into your goals. As physicians, we understand paying for advice. Either way, you will pay for the financial advice. As long as they understand your goals and make recommendations that are consistent with those goals, their fee structure shouldn’t be the only reason you pick one over another.
Qualifications and credentials
Selecting a financial advisor with the appropriate qualifications and credentials is paramount. Doctors should prioritize advisors who hold recognized certifications such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), or Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC). These designations demonstrate a commitment to ethical standards and a high level of expertise.
Specialization in medical professionals’ finances
Financial advisors for doctors who have experience working with medical professionals can provide tailored advice that takes into account the unique challenges doctors face. From managing medical school debt to optimizing retirement plans, a specialized advisor understands the intricacies of a doctor’s financial journey.
Interviewing potential advisors
Doctors should treat the selection process like a job interview, asking questions about the advisor’s experience, approach to financial planning, investment philosophy, and previous work with medical professionals. Requesting references from other doctors who have worked with the advisor can provide valuable insights into their competence and professionalism.
Avoiding red flags
Certain red flags can indicate an advisor might not be the right fit. These include guarantees of unrealistic returns, high-pressure sales tactics, lack of transparency about fees, and a one-size-fits-all approach. Doctors should trust their instincts and walk away if something doesn’t feel right.
Checking background and disciplinary history
Before making a final decision, doctors should conduct a background check on potential advisors. This includes verifying their credentials with relevant regulatory bodies and checking for any disciplinary history. Online resources and databases can provide insight into an advisor’s professional track record.
Getting everything in writing
Once a doctor has selected a financial advisor, it’s essential to have all agreements, fees, and services outlined in a written contract. This document serves as a legal safeguard and ensures both parties are on the same page regarding expectations and responsibilities.
Ongoing relationship and review
Meeting with a financial advisor for doctors is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. Doctors should maintain regular communication with their chosen advisor, reviewing their financial plan as circumstances change. Periodic check-ins can help doctors stay on track to meet their goals and make necessary adjustments along the way. Finding the right financial advisor as a doctor requires careful consideration, research, and due diligence.
Don’t rush it! By understanding their unique financial needs, the right financial advisor for doctors can lead to decades worth of returns and financial security.
Amarish Dave is a board-certified neurologist with over 20 years of experience in both neurology and active stock investing. In addition to his medical career, he holds a background in business from the University of Michigan and has successfully passed the SIE exam administered by FINRA. Dr. Dave is founder, FiscalhealthMD.com, a website dedicated to educating doctors at all stages of their careers, ranging from residents to retirement, about financial planning.