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Older Practitioners Should Move Over. . . Not So Fast


Technology has created a major culture and communication gap between older and younger practitioners, and sometimes between practitioners and patients. As practices change hands, careful planning can smooth the generational transition and improve patient care.

Most people may be familiar with the saying “Out with the old and in with the new." In some contexts this saying has positive connotations. In others, it may be an incorrect concept. Would you rather visit a younger or older healthcare professional? What about consulting a new or seasoned financial advisor, CPA, or attorney? It depends!

Whether a healthcare provider or financial advisor, similar challenges seem to overlap these and other professions. Does providing select services to individuals prove to be contentious, troublesome, less than profitable, challenging, and questionably rewarding? It may depend on who you ask. Practitioners who remember the “good old days” of loose regulation and higher reimbursements find today’s rules and regulations, in addition to contending with managed care, taxing and hard. Conversely, others newly entering their respective fields may see an opportunity to serve and earn respectable returns for their education and efforts only to be faced with the harsh reality of business in the real world.

Technology has been a game-changer across all occupations. For many, technology has meant the reduction of tedious tasks, allowing more time to be effectively spent on improving service to the public, enhanced productivity, and the business’ bottom line for profitability.

Interestingly, while technology access and skills have improved, the ability to effectively communicate may be a stumbling block among younger professionals. Depending on what technology an individual grew up with there may be a correlation with the lack of direct interaction with others. This has been discussed in the news and social media. Texting, email and related communication tools have supplanted picking up the telephone or direct face-to-face communication. In essence, many practitioners lack effective personal communication skills and this in some ways can be a block to effective patient or client interaction, acquisition, and retention.

Seasoned practitioners out of necessity or regulations have been advancing their ability to embrace technology. However, with years of experience in communicating directly with individuals, many have earned their success one client at a time. This experience is priceless and has allowed for years of developing deep and meaningful client admiration becoming the “go to trusted advisor or practitioner” for those they serve.

However, with time any professional needs to move on and seriously contemplate their own retirement. This presents a golden opportunity for seasoned practitioners to consider a viable exit strategy. Conversely, younger professionals have a fantastic opportunity to purchase a turnkey operation with an existing and active client base. The challenge is to have younger purchasers become better communicators — and in short order. The seasoned practitioners should remain available and offer the new purchaser the accessibility of years of experience. As important as the didactic business factors which are part and parcel with any buy-sell arrangement, the unencumbered access to years of know-how may be considered priceless and should be embraced.

Ultimately, out with the old and in with the new is a fact of life. However, the way in which the process is approached and subsequently implemented can be a win for the exiting practitioner and a chance of a lifetime for the younger and eager practitioner. There are legal, financial, and myriad of other important factors to be considered with any purchase or transfer of a practice. Utilizing trusted professionals in this process, i.e., CFP practitioner, CPA, insurance broker, and attorney, could ensure for a smooth transition.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” — Walt Disney

Remaining open minded and proactive can prove to be an excellent way of ensuring clients or patients continue to be cared for and appropriately serviced. The exiting practitioner has the ability to cash out for years of long hours, hard work, and success. The immediate income flow to the purchaser alleviates some of the daunting challenges most beginning business owners face and allows for concentrating on growing the newly acquired endeavor. Generational gaps can be positively bridged and be a success in personal and professional growth, business knowledge and financial stability for all concerned.

About the Author

H. William Wolfson, DC, MS, MPASSM, CFP® is a financial consultant and advisor. After passing the rigorous Certified Financial Planner™ examination, Dr. Wolfson obtained a Master of Science in Personal Financial Planning from the College for Financial Planning. He was subsequently awarded by the College a Master Planner Advanced StudiesSM. He is a member of the Financial Planning Association (FPA). Dr. Wolfson retired after 27 years of active practice and remains active volunteering his time to the continued education and success of colleagues in assorted professional organizations. He may be contacted at drhwwolfson@gmail.com.

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