When searching for financial advice, a doctor might ask for assistance in just one area, but the right adviser should also be able to quarterback a team that includes lenders, CPAs and real estate agents, if necessary. He or she can also help physicians find the rest of their financial team members.
“If you have a financial adviser already, he or she should be able to refer people,” says Zachary A. Abrams, CFP, a wealth manager for Capital Advisors Ltd. in Shaker Heights, Ohio. “I have a list of accountants, attorneys, investment banks and lenders that I refer my clients to depending on their situation.”
Choosing a CPA
Another important member of the financial team is the certified public accountant (CPA).
Stephen N. Klein, CPA, a partner with the New Jersey-based accounting and advisory firm Klatzkin & Company LLP, says the best way to choose a CPA is through referrals from other physicians and performing due diligence on those they recommend.
“Interview several [CPAs] before making a decision,” he says. “While cost is always a factor, it should not be the determining factor, as it is difficult to put a price on good advice. During the interview process, you will notice differences in style, experience, the questions they ask you, their answers to your questions and the chemistry between the two of you.”
Once hired, the CPA will be responsible for helping the physician with the type of corporate entity to set up for their practice, tax planning and tax preparation, as well as consulting on decisions about savings.
“They can also help by setting up an annual budget for the physician’s personal spending,” Klein says. “The physician needs to understand the importance of saving money from the day he or she first starts to earn a living. They will need to save for a down payment for a home, and other major life events, including college for their children and their own retirement.”
Finding the right attorney
Attorneys are also a vital part of the financial team, as they can help a physician keep his or her practice out of legal trouble.
Glenn H. Truitt, JD, partner with iDeal Business Partners in Las Vegas, Nevada, says a relationship with an attorney involves a great deal of confidential and sensitive information, so performing due diligence on an attorney is an important part of complementing the overall financial team.
“Physicians, by nature, are usually quite skilled as lie detectors,” he says. “These skills should similarly be applied to their conversations with prospective attorneys. They should ask the potentially awkward questions up front, including the attorney’s background and experience in healthcare, references from other physicians and how they bill.”