A World of Specialists in Need of a Generalist

Jun 22, 2016

Medicine used to be simple. If you lived in the old west, whether you got shot, fell off your horse or just ate a batch of bad beans, there was only one thing to do: go see Doc. Doc was the only physician in town and he delivered babies (at home), removed bullets (with help ample whiskey and another bullet to bite down on) and set broken bones (again, with the help of whiskey). And life expectancy then was about 40 years. Fast forward to today and there are doctors of every imaginable specialty and sub-specialty. But try to see “Doc” today, and he might be a little hard to find. Fewer and fewer physicians can afford to maintain a general practice any more. We live in the brave new world of specialists. But as Abraham Maslow helpfully pointed out, when you are a hammer, you tend to treat everyone else like a nail. The world of financial services has become highly specialized also. Some of these specialties are banking, insurance, investments, employee benefits, accounting, legal, real estate and commodities. Recalling Maslow, if you are an investment specialist, you tend to see everyone as needing…(surprise!) more investments. The issue is not the superiority of one specialty over another. It is about balance. So where do you go to find such balance? That’s the role of the financial planner. She is the financial generalist in this world of financial specialization. While anyone can call themselves a financial planner, I would suggest you look for a Certified Financial Planner practitioner or a CPA who has specialized as a Personal Financial Specialist. A financial generalist should analyze your situation to offer a comprehensive overview of your current financial condition. From there, you need a balanced diagnosis of your situation – where are the problems and opportunities? How can you best achieve your goals? Are your goals realistic? What are you forgetting? Then you and you and your planner can implement a holistic action plan for increasing your wealth, decreasing the risks and increasing your protection. Specialists are great. But start with a generalist. Or risk getting hammered.