While physicians may want to add a variety of experts to their financial team, it’s not always clear where to find quality financial professionals. In many ways, the industry remains complex and fragmented, with so many different titles, certifications, specialties, etc. to sort through.
That said, finding great financial experts is within physicians’ capabilities if they take the time to research and, ideally, meet with professionals.
“Physicians are always looking at evidence-based medicine or scientific studies or looking at data,” says Dr. Ray Callas, an anesthesiologist in Beaumont, TX. He believes they should use the same research and analytical skills when building their financial team. “Physicians need to do their due diligence and check to make sure that whoever they’re going to be utilizing is qualified and meets their needs.”
To get started conducting a thorough search to find the right financial experts for their needs, physicians can try the following tactics:
1. Ask for Recommendations
“The first thing I would do is ask around locally,” says Dr. Snehal Doshi, a neonatologist in Beaumont, Texas. He suggests physicians ask both younger and older colleagues who they use as their financial advisor, for example, to get an idea of different options. “Making a decision with a financial advisor is not a decision you make lightly. It's something where you should probably interview a few people in your community and see how you get along with them, because they are going to be a very important person in your life,” he says.
In addition to asking colleagues for recommendations, you can ask friends, family members, neighbors, etc. about who they use for financial help. Ideally, you can start with local recommendations so that you can easily meet with these professionals and see if they’re a good fit. From there, you may decide to extend your search to advisors outside your local area, but at least you'll have a good basis for what to expect when evaluating financial advisors.
2. Search Financial Industry Groups
If physicians are unable to obtain sufficient recommendations through word of mouth, or if they want to expand their search, they can seek out advisors and other financial professionals through relevant industry groups.
For example, you can search databases of certifying organizations, such as looking for a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) in your area if you’re seeking financial planning expertise. Or you can search for advisors and related resources through organizations like the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA).
From there, you should make appointments to meet or at least have an extended phone conversation with these professionals, just as you would after receiving recommendations from people you know. These industry groups run the gamut from different types of financial/investment advisors to accounting professionals to insurers. Belonging to an industry group may provide a certain level of assurance in the professionalism of the experts you find, but it’s important to still conduct your due diligence.
“After you’ve already vetted them, after you get to know them, don't just stop there. Check to make sure that you've looked at other resources before you make that final commitment, so that way you have always given yourself a chance to look and see if there are other opportunities,” says Dr. Callas.
3. Explore Media
A less formal, but still potentially effective way for physicians to find financial experts, includes exploring media such as TV, magazines and the internet. In particular, this tactic can be used to find specialty professionals to round out your financial team, as you may not be able to find recommendations as easily in specific areas like private investing just through word of mouth.
However, once you discover these individuals or firms, your due diligence needs to be just as strong as it is with those you find through recommendations or industry groups, if not more so. Thus, once you find the professional’s website or other contact information, schedule a time to meet or have an in-depth phone or video conferencing session. You should also check if that advisor or other financial professional is registered with relevant government agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), or see if there’s anything else you can find to help verify the validity of their business.
In all of these strategies, getting a good sense of the financial professional’s business practices and track record are key, and you should also consider whether they have a client base you can relate to. For example, a real estate investment firm that focuses on crowdfunding properties and targets young consumers may not be as strong of a fit for physicians as one that invests alongside other doctors and high-income professionals. The latter type of firm likely has a better sense of what matters to you, such as risk management and optimizing taxes.
In addition, the more time you can spend with financial professionals such as investment advisors, the more they can generally tailor their advice and strategies to help you reach your goals.
“That advisor is going to make money off of you no matter what, so why not go with someone you can actually spend time talking to and you feel like you can get along with that person. That way, as they get to know you, they get to know your preferences as well as your risk tolerance,” says Dr. Doshi.
Thus, whether you find financial experts through recommendations, industry groups, media or any other source, focusing on this thorough vetting and relationship building can help you reach your financial goals.