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Dentists & Financial Advisors: The Fiduciary Standard

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

Who to Trust?

Amidst the many voices clamoring to give you financial advice or recommendations, who do you trust to have your best interest at heart? By definition, a fiduciary will put your best interest first when providing financial advice. As a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), we are held to this standard of care by law. In addition, your financial advisor Nathan Ricks is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) professional held to additional ethical standards. These standards were recently strengthened and outlined in the CFP Board’s Code and Standards, as explained here in this video:

Provide Financial Advice

Like a Dentist Provides Service

“Switching careers to dentistry was a thought I had back then,” says Nathan Ricks, founder of Financial Freedom for Dentists. This was 25 years ago when Ricks began his career in the financial services industry.

“The idea that dentists provide patients with comprehensive care on a fee-for-service basis appealed to me, where clients trust their dentist to take care of their dental needs. While I loved helping clients reach their financial goals, I knew I didn’t want to earn commissions by selling investment and insurance products, and this became the impetus to becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®). Working as a fiduciary serving clients’ interests in helping them reach their financial goals is now my passion, and I’m grateful I get to serve dentists.”

Not all Financial Advisors Are the Same

You may wonder, “How do I tell if a financial advisor has my best interest?” When speaking with anyone claiming to be a “financial advisor” a key question to ask is “Are you a fiduciary?” Not all that call themselves “financial advisors” are held to the fiduciary standard. However, at Financial Freedom for Dentists, we take pride in observing this standard.

Michael Kitces, recognized by Investment News as an “Industry Innovator,” in 2016 and publishes frequently on his website to advance knowledge in financial planning examines the difference between financial advisors and fiduciaries with the following analogy:

Say you are hosting a barbeque this weekend and need to get some meat. You go to the butcher, and he tells you about some of the best cuts of meat he has in stock. However, if you were to walk into a dietitian’s office and ask her what you should eat at the barbeque, she may say, “You know, you really should eat more vegetables because your cholesterol is getting high, and I would consider eating meat in more moderation.” What’s the difference? The butcher is selling a product while the dietitian is selling advice.

While we do not have plans on calling ourselves your “Financial Dietitians” anytime soon, when working with clients, your financial health is our primary concern when giving financial advice.

Relationship to Dentistry

Just like your patients trust you to give them the best treatment plan for their specific dental needs, our clients trust us to put their best interest first when giving financial advice. In dentistry, common ethical problems and dilemmas can arise with your clients. Problems such as overtreating patients, failing to disclose dental mistakes, or handling a request by a patient for inappropriate treatment (more listed here). Handling all situations in your patients’ best interest builds trust and confidence and dentists adhere to the Principles of Ethics Code of Professional Conduct, as defined here by the American Dental Association.

Just like dentists, as fiduciaries, we take very seriously our role to build extremely strong relationships with our clients as we also commit to a Code of Ethics, defined by the CFP Board. As you can see from the chart below, the commitment to ethics both dentists and CFP® Professionals make in practicing their professions has a lot of commonalities and overlap:

Furthermore, at Financial Freedom for Dentists, we commit to serving clients through our core values of Trust, Communication, and Expertise:

It all Boils Down to You:

Your Financial Needs & Interests

We take very seriously our commitment and values to act in a manner worthy of your business, placing your financial needs interests above our own. We work hard to earn and keep your confidence to works as a true partner helping you to reach your financial goals. Afterall, like it says in the above video:

“Your finances on the surface your financial plan may appear to be all about numbers, saving, investing, budgeting. But in reality, it’s about much more: Your life. Your family. And your future. That’s why the financial planner you choose is so important. You’re relying on that person for your peace of mind today and your happiness tomorrow.”
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