Financial Prescription Before Diagnosis Is Malpractice
I have been living in St Francis Bay for just over a year. One morning I woke up not feeling great, poorly enough to head off to the doctor’s room; let’s call the Doctor “Sheila”. Now while I have been living here, I have not had to visit a doctor. So when I walk in, Sheila knows nothing about me and vice versa. So what process should I go through before I eventually walk out with a prescription or advice that will make me feel better?
Firstly, I will be asked to complete forms consisting of all my personal details, including as much of my medical history as I can remember. This part is really a bit of a nuisance, but I know and understand why it is important, so I do it.
Next, I get to meet Sheila. She asks me questions about my medical history, and what medication I am on. Sheila will ask me anything else that she feels may be necessary. On top of this, she will ask me about my symptoms, when they started and how severe they are.
I will be asked to lie on a bed while Sheila takes my blood pressure and listens to my pulse. This goes on until she eventually makes a diagnosis and, if necessary, writes me a prescription.
Sheila may instruct me to take action, such as changing my diet or exercise regime. For this, a script may not be needed. I may also be asked to schedule a follow-up appointment.
We understand that we must undergo this process to get a proper diagnosis. However, if I walked in and got handed a script, we would find another doctor. If this is how we treat our medical health, why do we often treat our financial health differently?
In many cases, people will accept financial advice from an “expert” without a diagnosis. We walk into their office and often walk out having signed up for a product which very often we do not understand. Still, it looks just like what everyone else has. Very little time is taken to get to know us, our history, past experiences, and what we want for our future (diagnosis).
Like a doctor, a Financial Planner should take time to get to know you, your history, and your future dreams and aspirations. Your “diagnosis” should be unique to you and part of a long-term plan to get you to where you want to be. Once you have a plan, you will need to take action to put it in motion. When you regularly revisit your planner, it will be to see how the scenario has changed and what you need to do next to stay on track.
In many cases, this does not happen because it takes time, and most advisers see a product as the solution to your problem. If this has been your adviser experience, you deserve better.
Dirk Groeneveld, Certified Financial Planner
t. 083 261 9287