A few weeks ago, as I was winding down for bed, I noticed a strange sensation in my chest. I could feel my heart beat, which I thought was quite odd. I checked my pulse, and it seemed like my heart was regularly skipping beats. That was quite unsettling. I didn’t feel any pain or tightness, or show any signs of a heart attack, so I wasn’t imaging the worst, but I did feel uneasy knowing that something wasn’t right with my heart. After a sleepless night, I called my primary care physician in the morning, and they told me to go to the emergency room. While there, a cardiologist diagnosed me with PVCs, which is a condition where the lower chamber of my heart sometimes beats a split second too early. To make a long story short, after much testing and a few more appointments, the doctors concluded that my PVCs are harmless. They’re actually quite common; many people who have PVCs don’t even realize it. It will be something to keep an eye on, but unless they get a lot worse than they are, they won’t change my life or overall health. Thank goodness for that, and thank goodness for modern medicine. I’m also thankful I decided to call my primary care physician that morning, and that they recognized I needed help that was beyond their expertise.
After my visits with the cardiologist, I decided to download the MyChart app, which Bryan Health has been heavily promoting lately. It’s a way for doctor and patient to interact with each other, and for the patient to keep tabs on important information. When I opened the app for the first time, I noticed that my cardiologist and my primary care physician were listed right on top of my home page. They were called my “Care Team”. I was pleasantly surprised to see my primary care physician listed there with his name, picture, and contact information, particularly because he’s not even part of the Bryan Health network. But, Bryan Health recognizes that he’s an important player in my overall healthcare, and their technology reinforces that I have a team of experts in charge of my healthcare. My primary care physician helps with my overall health, and sends me other places when necessary. My cardiologist addresses very specific issues. In the past, I’ve also used physical therapists, dermatologists, and chiropractors on an ongoing basis. In one way or another, they all worked in tandem for the same common goal: keep my healthy, and provide excellent care.
That really got me thinking about how we at Flagstone address our clients’ financial well-being. A financial care team is more than just one professional, much like a health care team is more than just one professional. Sometimes I feel like we’re in the financial primary care role, because as part of our financial planning process, we can cover a wide variety of topics. We often think about a client’s tax situation, their investments, their insurance coverage, their retirement plan, and their estate plan. As CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals, Michael and I have been educated in those five areas, and have helped hundreds of families with those topics, and more.
However, we recognize that when it comes to taxes, having a reliable accountant who can give you very specialized tax advice – someone who does more than just prepares your tax return – can be a huge asset. When we come across tax situations that are beyond our scope of knowledge or experience, we work with a client’s accountant to come up with a strategy that everyone agrees is in the client’s best interest. It’s our fiduciary obligation to do so. Heck, even when we don’t have specific issues to address, we still often advise our clients to seek the help of a good tax advisor.
Another example of how a financial care team can be helpful is the area of estate planning. While we have a certain level of knowledge when it comes to estate planning topics, strategies and documents (Michael even practiced law and wrote some estate plans back in the day), the advisors at Flagstone don’t practice law or write estate planning documents. We encourage our clients to enlist the help of an experienced estate planning attorney who can help them think through the intricacies of what they wish to happen if they become incapacitated or pass away.
I guess my point is that a good financial care team is made up of three people, in my opinion – a financial planner, an estate planning attorney, and a tax advisor. When those team members recognize the value that the others provide, and when they work together, an individual’s financial well-being will be looked after with care. Other professionals who can be helpful when it comes to money are insurance agents who educate and don’t just sell, bankers, charitable giving officers, and also counselors or therapists. Yes, counselors or therapists. Often times, money problems go much deeper than just dollars and cents. Identifying and addressing some of those root issues is something a qualified therapist can do.
If you’re unsure of what financial professionals you need in your own life, fill out our contact form on our website. We’ll listen to your situation to decide if we can help you, and if we can’t, we’ll point you in the right direction so you can enlist the help of other financial professionals.