If there were ever a year when we needed strong personalities to challenge the idea of business as usual, this is it. The world of financial advice is in flux, owing to the economy, the industry, politics and demographics. Change, both evolu-tionary and revolutionary, is the main item on the 2009 calendar.
The Movers and Shakers we chose this year are coming up with powerful ideas for embracing and mastering change. Michael Branham has been involved with the Financial Planning Association only since 2001 and already has been elected to the national board; hes a powerhouse who cares deeply about el-evating standards of care. Mark Casady, CEO of LPL, responded to the industry earthquake by gathering Wall Street refugees and assiduously adding them to his wealth management roster. The result: LPL is a stronger, tougher competitor than ever. Bob Curtis of PIETech has introduced state-of-the-art planning soft-ware thats also state-of-the-practice, a boon to advisors who need more than ever to leverage their time and talent. Kevin Kelleraka, Our Man In Washing-tonis straightening out the CFP Board and using it as a bully pulpit to promote the excellence of the CFP designation at a time when much financial advice may be subject to new federal regulation. Carolyn McClanahan is bringing her medi-cal training into play to pioneer a new type of planning that focuses on helping clients with healthcare issues. As America ages, McLanahans skills will be the ones you want to learn. We end with a celebration of the life of Joan Bavaria, a founding mother of socially responsible investing. She will be missed.
Carolyn McClanahan came to financial planning in 2001 with seemingly irrelevant credentials. She had made a change from a career in healthcarefirst, as a physician and next, in sales for an insurance companyto embark on her new life as an indepen-dent financial planner.
Now, with a CFP in hand and her own firm up and running since 2004, McClanahan is using her medical background to benefit clients in a singular way: She helps them posi-tion for life, long-term care and health insurance coverage, and to garner lower rates for these policies. This is an invalu-able service, as many baby boomers are reaching the age when insurance is more difficultand far more expensiveand healthcare costs are soaring.
Much of McClanahans advice centers on ways that clients can clean up their medical records, she says. This involves clients gaining control over their condi-tions, follow-up visits to show doctors how theyve improved, and reviewing records closely. It also means asking for appropriate changes to update diagnoses, when potentially beneficial.
Lets say your client went to the doctor a few years ago and complained about anxiety from a divorce, McCla-nahan explains. But the client doesnt have that anxiety any longer. The client can go to the doctor and talk about it, and can ask the physician to amend the chart to say that anxiety is no longer a problem. This case in point is an important
one, she says, because anxiety is associated with myriad ailments and is therefore troublesome for insurance purposes.
McClanahan, who routinely makes presentations on insurability at professional conferences, including FPA and NAPFA meetings, traces the origins of this facet of her full-service practice to her initial intuition when she joined the profession. As a physician, I know how physicians are paid. The more they can diagnose, the better their
reimbursements from insurance com-panies. These diagnoses can come back to haunt clients when they seek insurance.
Clients following McClanahans advice have countered this tendency to their advantage. For example, disabili-ty insurers are vigilant for diagnoses of arthritis. Sometimes arthritis is noth-ing more than a default diagnosis that doctors make when they actually dont know the cause of the pain, she says. If arthritis isnt demonstrably present, McClanahan adds, these doctors might be persuaded to change the record to something more objective, like pain-ful thumb.
As a physician and a planner, Mc-Clanahan reminds clients that the way to have the best medical records is by improving their health as much
as possible. She does a basic health inventory on clients, asking a few general questions that yield indications of their insurability, and may even prompt them to take steps toward better health.
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Carolyn McClanahan, M.D., CFPLife Planning Partners, Inc.
6550 St. Augustine Road, Suite 302Jacksonville, FL 32217