So, you’ve learned that the only real way to build and maintain wealth is by leveraging effort, assets, and people. You’ve learned that leveraging people is the most powerful method of Leverage and that leveraging advisors is the most powerful way to Leverage people. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that once you figure out how to use Leverage to achieve even a modest level of wealth, learning how to Leverage advisors is the single most important thing you can do if you want to save time and money and get the most out of your medical career.
To help you better understand this lesson, you need only look at the practice of medicine. A primary care physician is generally the first line of contact for a patient. Though the Doctor has a very wide range of general knowledge, he or she will have to refer patients to a number of specialists. In some instances, the Doctor may request the help of radiologists to review tests. In other instances, there may be a referral to surgeons who will undoubtedly need to work with anesthesiologists. The Doctor will encounter cases in which patients will need referrals to obstetricians, gynecologists, urologists, cardiologists, orthopedists, oncologists, and other specialists. The situation with respect to your finances is very similar.
In this Article—Accept Referrals to Specialists—we will examine the types of advisors who can help you Leverage your time and money, review the benefits and limitations of each specialist, point out some common pitfalls, and ultimately recommend how to assemble the right team of advisors.
The Value of Financial Specialists
The best way to maximize your benefit from leveraging people is to work with experts in many financial and legal fields. As you learned in Lesson #2, you have very different needs than Average Americans do. As a result, the right specialists for most people are not likely to be the right advisors to help you.
As you become more successful, you need advisors even more. Adding employees, making additional investments, purchasing equipment and real estate, and creating new businesses add complexity to your plan. This increased Leverage exponentially increases the complexity of your comprehensive financial plan. This complexity necessitates the need for a team of advisors. Without a very strong team, you will struggle to find the time to focus on the important things that make you money, let alone enjoy any free time. To illustrate the value of advisors, refer to the equation below:
- Wealth can only be achieved through Leverage
- Leverage can only be managed with a team of Advisors
- Wealth can only be achieved with a team of advisors managing the Leverage
In this section, we will discuss the reason why Doctors need a team of knowledgeable advisors with diverse areas of expertise. Then we will discuss how to maximize the value of your advisors and suggest tips for working with your team.
Managing Complexity: The Need For Advisors
Most people realize that wealth creates complexity. What Doctors need to realize is that the management of complexity and Leverage is not the job of a traffic cop. As wealth grows, the number of complicated, technical risks that the Doctor faces also grows exponentially.
As an example, the transition from running a sole proprietorship to having a single employee may not seem to be major, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The addition of just one employee creates a need for:
· Payroll creation, funding, and payments
· Regular payroll tax payments (or you can go to jail)
· Withholding tax filings and payments
· Workers compensation insurance or fund payments
· Occupation Safety Hazard Association (OSHA) compliance
· Separate retirement plan (ERISA) regulations and contribution requirements
· A host of other state and federal reporting requirements.
In addition to all of the aforementioned specific issues, the Leverage of assets also increases the need for more general categories of planning, like asset protection, banking (private and commercial), business planning, financial planning, healthcare law, HIPAA, Medicare, income tax management, investing, life insurance analysis, disability insurance analysis, property and casualty insurance analysis, long-term care insurance analysis, educational funding, retirement planning, family law, gift and estate tax planning, charitable planning, Medicaid planning, and a host of other areas.
Each category of planning has its own technical areas that can be competently handled by an advisor who has expertise in that area. Although it is common to find an advisor who has expertise in several areas, there are categories in which the input of two advisors may be necessary. For example, tax issues are typically handled by a both a tax attorney and a CPA. As a result, there is no way that a small team of two or three advisors could possibly handle the needs of a Doctor. This means that a Doctor may need to Leverage the services of six or more advisors over their career.
While the concept of such a large team may seem overwhelming, consider your profession of medicine. Adult patients do not continue to see the obstetrician who delivered them or the pediatrician who treated them in childhood. Patients need to see a number of specialists as they mature and as their needs change, often consulting with a number of Doctors at once.
If you are like your patients, you may want to be able to keep the same financial “primary care” advisors for as long as possible. Having someone you know and trust as your primary contact is very comforting. This “primary advisor” can help explain situations to you, find the right specialists if a need for one arises, and help communicate with you as complicated procedures take place. Keep this in mind. In Lesson #10, there will be discussion of your team of advisors. One of your advisors on this team is going to be the primary contact to help you through it all.
Working With Your Team
Having the right team of advisors is another step in the right direction, but there is still more to do. Having a team that is run poorly is like having an alarm installed in your house but never turning it on. You have to “work” with the team for the team to provide any value. In our discussion with the partners of The Founders Group in San Diego, we learned some valuable lessons about successful business owners (and Doctors need to consider themselves business owners). The Founders Group only deals with families with businesses or net worth above $25,000,000. They have found that the most successful clients and families arranged annual or semi-annual all-day or multi-day meetings with all of their advisors, business partners, and key family members. Sometimes, the costs of flying in advisors to perform these meetings and paying them their hourly wages can cost thousands of dollars per year.
According to Joe Strazzeri of The Founders Group:
“Professionals and business owners who make the effort to spend time with the experts on their team generally see these meetings as the most productive use of time and money.”
Tips For Working Within A Team
As with any collaborative endeavor, the collection of people into a coordinated team is not enough to ensure success. Every conference call and meeting must have an agenda and someone to manage the meeting to make sure that all-important items are handled within the allotted time. It is common to put one of the advisors in charge of organizing and facilitating information between the other advisors. This is usually a financial planner and not an accountant or attorney—though the “quarterback” could be any one of the advisors on the team. Within the group, you need to identify roles and responsibilities and make one person accountable for the completion of each task.
When considering different options, it is wonderful when there is a unanimous decision on whether to go in a particular direction. However, many decisions will not be unanimous. You need to set the rules (51%, 66%, 80%) on how decisions are to be made within the group and share them with the group. If they know how you are going to make decisions, it will make it easier for them to participate in the group and allow them to continue to participate even when the rest of the group disagrees with a particular decision.
You can’t possibly expect to achieve and protect wealth while holding on to your sanity unless you assemble the right team of advisors. Trying to achieve financial success without a team of advisors is like a patient trying to get 100% of his or her healthcare from one Doctor. Without the help of orthopedists, dermatologists, neurologists, obstetricians, oncologists, and dozens of other specialists, patients’ life expectancies would certainly suffer. Society has benefited from the development of expertise in specialized medicine. Similarly, Doctors need to look to specialized legal and financial advisors to provide the greatest financial benefits.
You must realize that the process of building and maintaining wealth in today’s world brings with it potential challenges from all areas of law, accounting, finance, insurance, and business. When you accept this reality and embrace the need to Leverage the expertise of advisors in all of the areas mentioned above, you will be one step closer to reaching your goals.
What types of advisors do Doctors need to utilize? How do you divide the responsibilities within the team? How do you choose the actual advisors? In the next two chapters, we will answer all of these questions.