Second, consider the many ways in which an adviser can add value. The most useful thing an adviser can do for you is to help you develop an initial financial and investment plan. That means educating you on what matters when it comes to finances, helping you better define your goals, and generating a written plan on what you should do with the money you have now and will earn in the future in order to maximize your happiness and reach your goals. Even after the plan has been designed and implemented, the adviser serves another important function: helping you stick with the plan. Investors, especially physician investors, are notorious for performance chasing and behavioral biases that cause self-inflicted financial catastrophes, such as buying high and selling low. In addition, the adviser can function as a financial coach, reminding you of your goals and encouraging you to save enough of your income to reach them. Of course, the adviser also takes care of the necessary portfolio chores, such as opening accounts, typing buy and sell orders into the computer, and generating periodic reports about asset allocation, investment performance, and progress toward goals. Finally, an adviser provides an important backup function. For most couples, one person is far more interested in personal finance than the other. The presence of an adviser provides a bit of insurance that if something happens to the interested partner, the financially naive partner will have someone to ensure the finances are managed in some reasonable way.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 36 – No 02 – February 2017
Each of these functions that a competent, low-cost adviser can provide has significant value. However, that value is different for every investor. For an investor who already has a written financial and investing plan and has the interest, knowledge, and discipline required to maintain the plan, that value is likely to be much lower than the substantial cost. However, an investor who has none of those things can easily justify paying significant fees to a financial adviser as money well spent.
Even the least competent physician investor who desires to fully rely on a full-service financial adviser needs to learn a few things. These include understanding what a fair price is for advice as well as learning what high-quality financial advice and portfolio management look like. I know of no better way to find out whether your adviser is giving you good advice than to go get a second opinion from another experienced, fee-only adviser at a separate firm. That second opinion may be the best financial advisory fee you will ever pay.