Formulate a Financial Plan

Know Your Net Worth

Manage & Minimize Debt

Accumulate Assets

Budget to Live Within Your Means

Understand Investing Basics

Plan for Retirement

Insure People & Property

Deal with Financial Advisors

Review Your Employment Contract

Make Plans for Your Estate

Make Good Decisions


The do-it-yourself (DIY) path is appealing for a variety of reasons:

  • You retain full control
  • You avoid some risk of fraud
  • You avoid exposure to advisor ineptitude
  • You may avoid some advisory fees

The downsides of the DIY path are that:

  • You don’t have a seasoned advisor’s expertise available at every key point in your personal and professional life
  • You don’t have a built-in mechanism for periodic reviews and analysis of your evolving financial needs
  • You may be prone to more emotion-driven mistakes
  • You may find yourself re-inventing the wheel—having to learn many lessons on your own—the hard way
  • You may have less time for family, hobbies, or business

Ultimately, deciding whether to DIY or outsource to an advisor hinges on three considerations:

  1. Do you have the knowledge to consistently make good decisions on your own?
  2. Do you have the time to spend on the research and analysis required to make good decisions?
  3. Do you have the inclination to spend time on analysis and decisions?

If the answer to any of these is “no” then you should consider working with an advisor. Making decisions on your own without knowledge of basic facts is like an illiterate patient self-medicating. Good decisions require knowledge. If you don’t personally have that knowledge, find someone who does. This frees you up to spend more time on your priorities, including family, hobbies, and work. It also decreases the probability that more of your time and money will be wasted later, fixing problems created by errors you made in an effort to moonlight as a tax, legal, or financial expert.

If you want to make all financial decisions on your own or have a spouse who is qualified to do so, that’s great. Just make sure that within your household, you truly have the required: expertise, time and inclination. I know physicians whose spouses are business owners or have MBA degrees, yet still decide to seek external advice from qualified financial advisors. Often, that’s a very constructive decision. The challenge, of course, is to find someone you trust to consistently provide unbiased advice.

Many doctors already have a trusted advisor, often an accountant or a lawyer. It’s comforting to have such relationships. But an attorney is a legal expert and an accountant a tax expert. The accountant and lawyer may be your best friends; they may be fully committed to your well-being. But the bottom line is that neither is likely to be an expert in financial planning or wealth management. If you’re not going to do this yourself, find an expert on whom you can rely and recognize that you have some responsibilities to make the relationship productive.