A physician’s first financial advisor

I usually simplify things here on the blog.  Sometimes it is easier to glaze over a part of the story instead of pulling out all the details.  Others, the point is clearer when not bogged down by tangentially related details.  What’s lost in nuance, however, often adds shades of complexity to the picture.  Occasionally another viewpoint is suppressed on purpose.  I have frequently referred to the fact that I fired my financial advisor.  In the simple math of investing, his returns were slightly sub par.  But it may interest you to know that he was my second.  My first financial advisor, like my father, died tragically from an unexpected brain hemorrhage.

I will never forget him.

Rest in peace

I could feel the energy of the crowd tense as the room collectively leaned in.  After his wife and parents had spoken, his brother opened up the mic to the crowd.  The momentary stillness was broken by a crowd of people who decided to step towards the lectern.

And the stories poured out from his devoted clients.

The story of the poor widow who left with no financial knowledge was lucky enough to find him.

The businessman who he helped liquidate his stocks to put a down-payment on the first restaurant.  His client now owned ten.

The man who lost his father but struggled to navigate the last wishes to have his ashes dispersed in a small town in India.  And how he signed off and became unreachable for two weeks, and traveled to India with his grieving client to negotiate that which must be done.

A room full of memories.

There were so many things my first financial advisor got right.

Building a business

Unlike most advisors who collect an AUM fee, my first financial advisor was strangely unafraid to help his clients pursue businesses and profits outside of the stock market.  He was one of the great supporters of my time as an art mogul, and looked for ways for me to introduce my business to his clientele.

Furthermore, he encouraged me in the building of my medical practice.  He often helped me sort through the benefits and costs of real estate ownership.

He pursued several businesses outside of the financial advisory field himself and was happy to share his experiences to instruct.

A true advisor

My first financial advisor often felt like, to me, a trusted physician, lawyer, or accountant.  He was a friend, a teacher, a safe dry place in the midst of a storm.

He asked question after question.  He was intimately up to date with the comings and goings of my loved ones.  He inquired about the children, he asked after my parents.  You could tell that not only was he being cordial, but he was gathering information to help build a solid financial foundation for my fledgling family.

He was never content to dictate.  He came to meetings with hands full of books and articles.  Tidbits that he thought I could learn from. Perspectives that he had found valuable.

He was ever the student and teacher at the same time.

A shield

He felt my pain during the recession.  Weeks before his death, he had lowered his AUM fee in light of poor returns.  He didn’t have to do this.  No one was doing well.  But he personally felt it was his job to protect his client’s assets, and he didn’t want his fees to be yet another drain.

It is profoundly sad that he died in the middle of the economic downturn.  He never got to see his long-term planning pay off.

He left a community of people who will never recover from his loss.  Not because of his financial advising (he had a good succession plan in place) but because the world has so few people that are as special.

I was spoiled.

Final thoughts

My first financial advisor was an advisor in all sense of the word.  He was also a great friend.  A decade later, I still feel his loss every day.  Even though he never brought returns better than the market, his advisory services went well beyond the amount of money accumulating in my accounts.

Although rarely referenced on this blog, there is a real place for financial advisors in the world and in our community.

Every time I forget that, I think of my first financial advisor.  My cheerleader. My buddy.

May he rest in peace.

“DocG” is a physician who blogs at DiverseFI.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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