Selecting a Healthcare Focused Financial Advisory Team

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Providing Physician Centric – Not Advisor Centric – Holistic Financial Planning

[By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™]

[By Professor Hope Rachel Hetico RN MHA CMP™]

David and HopeMost retail financial services products are designed to enhance the well-being of the Financial Advisor and/or vendor at the expense of clients.

The clients get only the leftovers. Of course, no one tells them that secret. They have to figure it out for themselves. As the old line goes, “Where are the customers’ boats?”*

*Rowland, M: Planning Periscope [Where Advisors are the Clients]. Financial Advisors Magazine; page 36, April 2014

Anyone following emerging health care trends and delivery models over the last few years has heard various permutations of the notion “team based medical care”, the “continuum of care” or “patient centered care.” All concerned hope that such high-performing holistic teams, with granular patient input, will improve health delivery and become essential to the advancement of coordinated, successful and cost-effective health care. So too; the informed financial planning team process for physicians and medical professionals!


Now, we introduce the related concept of team-based and client-centered, financial planning advice for physicians and medical professionals. But, the concept must be more than a tag line, marketing gimmick or metaphor. And, there are several catches to this new team approach.

The first is doctor involvement to lead the team. Gone are the days of abrogating financial planning to some anointed, “quarter-back”, uber-advisor or planner coordinating inputs, team members, plans, advice and financial products! Today, it is better to Do-It-Yourself [DIY]; or pay the price; literally and figuratively. In other words, a philosophy of ME Inc; not Financial Advisor, Inc

The second is to ensure teams are indeed well educated, high-performing using best practices, that demand the sort of whole-person and psychological attention discussed in the first chapter of this book and extending well beyond financial planning software for the general populace.

The third catch is full integration. In theory, everyone loves team-based medical care.  But, it is seldom used successfully and all must ensure the concept does not re-disintegrate into the disparate parts of traditional care; or the compartmentalized financial planning of the past. This is akin to the individual pieces of a scramble puzzle, which is never fully assembled, as a picture in-toto. Complete – but not completed!

And, we must be absolutely sure of the team leader and of who is accountable; ME Inc or with a tour guide [FA pro re nata]. Most importantly; who has responsibility with the needed authority. Team based financial planning advice must not be a collective risk reduction mechanism for the involved consultants; as is often the case in medicine. And, it must not be an invoice generating machine or revenue enhancing mechanism like some electronic medical records. There must be fiduciary responsibility, of all team members, collectively and individually; and at all times.

Finally, the team must be more than an aspiration or theoretical model; it must be actual, executable and real.

The Real Notion of Teams

In financial planning, there seems to be a fixation … that a team is financial planner [certified; or not] and an attorney; nice-but a couple [and not really a team in the true sense of group development as first proposed by Bruce Tuckman, in 1965.

In his model, Tucker maintained that four phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, to face challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results [Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing]. Later, headded Adjourning to successfully complete the task and break up the team. Timothy Biggs further added the Re-Norming stageto reflect a period where the team re-assembles, as needed. This put the emphasis back on the ME Inc or physician team leader – as too many ‘diplomats’ in a leadership role may prevent the team from reaching full potential.


This is why “team” must be more than a metaphor. It deserves more than lip service. Delivering client-centered, coordinated financial planning services and products demands true collaboration–a fully integrated team engaged in practices that involve each member at the top, highest and best use of their licensure and education; optimizing their contributions and maximizing their impact on the well being of the client.


In this context, board Certified Medical Planners™ may play a lead role going forward; along with other like-minded and educated professionals. Unfortunately, the ranks of CMPs™ while growing; are still painfully small. But, in addition to true expertise, they link physician clients with appropriate providers and resources throughout the holistic professional life/practice planning continuum. They focus on the doctor-client’s totality — emotional, financial, risk and business management and psyche. They advocate for the doctor client to connect him/her to the necessary resources, professional advisors and consultants who need to have their voices heard. Such successful, high-functioning financial planning teams give each member a voice.

The medical professional must be an active participant; not a passive bystander. This is not the norm in financial planning today where doctors are urged to hire a team quarterback. But, the NFL-QB is not a generalist at all; his arm is special and unlike all other teams players. He is unique, skilled and exceptional. A franchise player!

Fortunately, past is not prologue in the era of transparency, information at your fingertips, tablet PCs, Skype® and smart phones. To succeed in the hyper competitive new era of health reform requires education, involvement and active participation. In short, a new model of physician focused advisor. No longer is there a free lunch of passivity for medical professionals; either as doctors or advisory clients themselves. For financial planning in the new era of healthcare reform, successful doctors will assume the mantle of self-quarterback themselves.

ME Inc., or Going it Alone – but with a Team

The physician, nurse, or other medical professional should easily recognize that there are a vast array of opportunities, obstacles, and pitfalls when it comes to managing one’s finances.  Still, with some modicum of effort, the basic aspects of insurance, investments, taxes, accounting, portfolio management, retirement and estate planning, debt reduction, asset protection and practice management can be largely self-taught. Yet, it is realized that nuances and subtleties can make a well-intentioned plan fall short.  The devil truly is in the details.  Moreover, none of these areas can be addressed in isolation. It is common for a solution in one area to cause a new set of problems in another.

Accordingly, most health care practitioners would be well served to hire [independent, hourly compensated and prn] financial help. Unlike some medical problems, financial issues may not cause any “pain” or other obvious symptoms.  Medical professionals tend to have far more complex financial situations than most lay people. Despite the complexities of the new world of health reform, far too many either do nothing; or give up all control totally, to an external advisor. This either/or mistake can be costly in many ways, and should be avoided.

In reality, and at various time in their careers, the medical professional needs a team comprised of at least a financial analyst, lawyer, management consultant, risk manager [actuary, mathematician or insurance counselor] and accountant. At various points in time, each member of the team, or significant others, will properly assume a role of more or less importance, but the doctor must usually remain the “quarterback” or leader; in the absence of a truly informed other, or Certified Medical Planner™.

This is necessary because only the doctor has the personal self-mandate with skin in the game, to take a big picture view.  And, rightly or wrongly, investments dominate the information available regarding personal finance and the attention of most physicians.  One is much more likely to need or want to discuss the financial markets with their financial advisor than private letter rulings by the IRS, or with their estate planning attorney or tax accountant. While hiring for expertise is a good idea, there is sinister way advisors goad doctors into using all their retail services; all of the time. That artifice is – the value of time.


True integrated physician focused and financial planning is at its core a service business, not a product or sales endeavor. And, increasingly money is more likely to be at the top of the list for providers as the healthcare environment is contracting. So, eschewing the quarterback model of advice, and choosing to self-educate thru this NEW book and elsewhere, may be one of the best efforts a smart physician can make.

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact:


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2 Responses

  1. Book,
    I just pre-ordered this book and eagerly await release.


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