When it comes to patient care, a team approach is often necessary to produce the best results. The same is true with financial planning.
When a patient visits a healthcare professional there is an expectation for an answer or course of action to a perceived problem. After the intake forms are completed and preliminary data is recorded, the consultation allows for fact gathering and determining what additional information is necessary to make a diagnosis and ultimately an informed decision. The healthcare professional accesses all available methods (i.e., X-ray, MRI, CT scan, or other specific testing, blood analysis, etc.) to help determine what the patient’s problem may be and to define appropriate care and treatment. In essence, the healthcare professional becomes the lead team player (i.e., quarterback or captain) and relies on other team members to report their findings and offer objective data and professional opinions on how best to approach the issue at hand and the best course of treatment for a patient.
A Team Approach
This approach is used every day in a multitude of scenarios. Having practiced chiropractic for 27 years and now as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professional, the overlap between my former and current professions can be clearly appreciated. When meeting a new client (patient), it is obvious that this individual is seeking help for a perceived or real challenge and is requesting guidance and answers to solve a current or expected concern. The gathering of relevant and important data is the beginning of this relationship. As data is analyzed, often additional information is needed or expertise accessed to help determine the best course of action (treatment). Determining the risk and expected return a client is willing to accept becomes part and an important consideration in portfolio design and implementation. The use of an Investment Policy Statement (IPS) allows for data gathering and review of client investing parameters. Working in conjunction with a trusted, knowledgeable CFP professional, additional data is gathered and decisions can be made on how best to approach and ultimately solve an individual’s concerns. As in healthcare, other professionals (i.e., CPA, attorneys, insurance brokers, business evaluators, etc.) are often consulted on behalf of a client’s needs. The CFP many times takes the lead role in coordinating client requirements similar to a healthcare professional who guides a patient’s treatment considerations.
Going It Alone
Although there are professionals who may feel that they can be all things to all people, with time and experience most learn this may not be the best approach. Often, it is in the professional’s best interest as they consult with patients or clients to have an array of fellow professional colleagues to consult with on the specific and related ancillary topics. Whether in healthcare or financial planning, knowledgeable and trustworthy professionals are sought after to render exceptional advice and guidance.
Depending on the level of complexity presented, know what you know. If the matter is beyond your level of knowledge or understanding it is acceptable and prudent to refer to a colleague or other professional who may have the level of expertise necessary to help and service the individual.
The client’s expectation is to receive truthful and thoroughly vetted information prior to implementing any course of action. Whether you are talking about a healthcare or financial professional, the client or patient’s best interest must remain paramount, thus fulfilling the fiduciary duty of doing no harm. If this task is failed, often times there are consequences which can be time consuming and costly for all involved. Conversely, it should be realized and appreciated that it is any professional’s right to not accept an individual if he or she feels the client cannot be served a judicious manner. Therefore, clear communication—written and verbal—is essential!
Standards of Care and Responsibility
Documentation often times is the difference between having a viable defense or being exposed to a negative verdict or settlement. Unfortunately, poor documentation is a result of sloppy procedures; a professional’s perceived lack of time or laziness. It is the professional’s responsibility to know the respective state and federal rules and regulations; in addition to internal employer compliance expectations. Are you subscribing and adhering to the accepted standards of care in your area? Whether a healthcare or financial professional, the reality of potential litigation in today’s society demands your best efforts are put forth from the moment you meet and greet any potential patient or client.
Whatever your decision, make every effort to strive in which everyone has a win-win outcome. Unfortunately, losing may be a result in some encounters. The reality of this and subsequent costs in time and money may not be worth it! Whether you are content to do it alone or work with others, the choice is yours. Carefully consider keeping within your expertise and know when to pursue any relationship and when to refer out. With any client or patient interaction there are potential risks and rewards for both the individuals served and the professionals rendering advice.
Caveat emptor, or “buyer beware,” is an accepted term indicating consumers should be confident in their decision after thoroughly vetting their chosen provider of services. Conversely, seller beware is defined as “the principle of caveat venditor [and] cautions that the seller is responsible for any problem that the buyer might encounter with a service or product.”
There is nothing worse than sleeping with one eye open or waiting for the proverbial knock at your door to make one realize assurances and suggestions made exceed a professional’s knowledge or capabilities.