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Doctor’s orders

Dr. Carolyn McClanahan, founder and director of financial planning at Life Planning Partners Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla., didn’t quit her day job when she initially launched her fee-only firm more than a decade ago. She was still practicing medicine part time in the urgent care section of an emergency room.

Today, she manages a little more than $100 million in assets for 78 client families (many of them multi-generational) while teaching other advisors to integrate health-care planning into their businesses. She plans to keep her firm small—her goal is about 100 client families—so she has time to stay closely connected with them, remain active in education and develop better processes for the advisor community.

Her advisory business differs dramatically from the mainstream of the profession. McClanahan, who specialized in family medicine and emergency medicine, accompanies clients with very serious health issues to medical appointments. But aside from asking clients what they do to take care of their health, she doesn’t typically don her medical hat until they have a major health issue, she says.

“We ask about health because that helps us do better planning,” she says. “You plan very differently for someone who has an unhealthy lifestyle or who already has significant health problems as opposed to someone who is very healthy and takes good care of themself.”

Life Planning Partners also helps assuage some of the biggest fears of its seriously ill clients: “Do I have the money to treat this illness?” “Is it going to decimate my family?” “Who will take care of things, including my finances?”

“I was a math nerd in high school,” says McClanahan, 51, who briefly considered becoming an actuary. Her role as an athletic trainer in high school and college eventually motivated her to pursue a career in medicine.

She began thinking about finances after earning her M.D. degree from the University of Mississippi. She opened an IRA as a low-paid medical resident, then helped her husband invest money he inherited from his parents who had died. “That was in the mid-’90s and we thought we were brilliant and we did fairly well,” she says. “Of course, everyone was brilliant back then.”

By 2000, the couple, then in their mid-30s, realized they needed more financial guidance. “We had this nice pot of money and were getting nervous and not really knowing what we were doing,” she says. They also wanted to know if they could afford for her husband to give up engineering to become a track coach. Finding a planner proved difficult. “Back then, especially in Jacksonville, everyone was pretty much a salesperson,” she says. “It was all about investments.”

McClanahan has also been a good resource for Columbia, S.C.-based Abacus Planning Group, a fee-only wealth management firm that manages $832 million in assets for 192 clients. “She has a unique perspective and brings a lot of knowledge to the table that the rest of us don’t have,” says Molly Thomas, a registered paraplanner and the insurance strategist at Abacus. “She helps marry the two worlds,” adds Thomas, referring to the medical and financial sides of health care.

Abacus is now better able to help clients understand their medical records and what insurance companies look for in them. During open-enrollment periods, the firm reviews prescription drug cost options with clients, adds Thomas.

She finds McClanahan’s recent presentations on planning for health-care costs in retirement particularly useful. “How are we even supposed to start talking about that,” asks Thomas, “when someone who retires at 60 may live to 100?”

McClanahan has encouraged Abacus to ask clients open-ended questions about their health, including whether there is anything they’d like their planning team to know. These conversations help minimize surprises when doing financial planning—“Not that there’s a crystal ball,” says Thomas—and helps Abacus know how to have health-related conversations with clients’ children.

Abacus team members also do a lot of role-playing with one another to practice the best way to weave health care into conversations with clients, says Thomas.

McClanahan is thrilled that other advisors are stepping up their emphasis on health-care planning. “Our BHAG, or our big hairy audacious goal,” she says, “is to be a financial planning firm that other firms want to emulate.”

Article Source: Financial Advisor magazine

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Doctor’s orders

Dr. Carolyn McClanahan, founder and director of financial planning at Life Planning Partners Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla., didn’t quit her day job when she initially launched her fee-only firm more than a decade ago. She was still practicing medicine part time in the urgent care section of an emergency room.

Today, she manages a little more than $100 million in assets for 78 client families (many of them multi-generational) while teaching other advisors to integrate health-care planning into their businesses. She plans to keep her firm small—her goal is about 100 client families—so she has time to stay closely connected with them, remain active in education and develop better processes for the advisor community.

Her advisory business differs dramatically from the mainstream of the profession. McClanahan, who specialized in family medicine and emergency medicine, accompanies clients with very serious health issues to medical appointments. But aside from asking clients what they do to take care of their health, she doesn’t typically don her medical hat until they have a major health issue, she says.

“We ask about health because that helps us do better planning,” she says. “You plan very differently for someone who has an unhealthy lifestyle or who already has significant health problems as opposed to someone who is very healthy and takes good care of themself.”

Life Planning Partners also helps assuage some of the biggest fears of its seriously ill clients: “Do I have the money to treat this illness?” “Is it going to decimate my family?” “Who will take care of things, including my finances?”

“I was a math nerd in high school,” says McClanahan, 51, who briefly considered becoming an actuary. Her role as an athletic trainer in high school and college eventually motivated her to pursue a career in medicine.

She began thinking about finances after earning her M.D. degree from the University of Mississippi. She opened an IRA as a low-paid medical resident, then helped her husband invest money he inherited from his parents who had died. “That was in the mid-’90s and we thought we were brilliant and we did fairly well,” she says. “Of course, everyone was brilliant back then.”

By 2000, the couple, then in their mid-30s, realized they needed more financial guidance. “We had this nice pot of money and were getting nervous and not really knowing what we were doing,” she says. They also wanted to know if they could afford for her husband to give up engineering to become a track coach. Finding a planner proved difficult. “Back then, especially in Jacksonville, everyone was pretty much a salesperson,” she says. “It was all about investments.”

McClanahan has also been a good resource for Columbia, S.C.-based Abacus Planning Group, a fee-only wealth management firm that manages $832 million in assets for 192 clients. “She has a unique perspective and brings a lot of knowledge to the table that the rest of us don’t have,” says Molly Thomas, a registered paraplanner and the insurance strategist at Abacus. “She helps marry the two worlds,” adds Thomas, referring to the medical and financial sides of health care.

Abacus is now better able to help clients understand their medical records and what insurance companies look for in them. During open-enrollment periods, the firm reviews prescription drug cost options with clients, adds Thomas.

She finds McClanahan’s recent presentations on planning for health-care costs in retirement particularly useful. “How are we even supposed to start talking about that,” asks Thomas, “when someone who retires at 60 may live to 100?”

McClanahan has encouraged Abacus to ask clients open-ended questions about their health, including whether there is anything they’d like their planning team to know. These conversations help minimize surprises when doing financial planning—“Not that there’s a crystal ball,” says Thomas—and helps Abacus know how to have health-related conversations with clients’ children.

Abacus team members also do a lot of role-playing with one another to practice the best way to weave health care into conversations with clients, says Thomas.

McClanahan is thrilled that other advisors are stepping up their emphasis on health-care planning. “Our BHAG, or our big hairy audacious goal,” she says, “is to be a financial planning firm that other firms want to emulate.”

Article Source: Financial Advisor magazine

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Doctor’s orders

Dr. Carolyn McClanahan, founder and director of financial planning at Life Planning Partners Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla., didn’t quit her day job when she initially launched her fee-only firm more than a decade ago. She was still practicing medicine part time in the urgent care section of an emergency room.

Today, she manages a little more than $100 million in assets for 78 client families (many of them multi-generational) while teaching other advisors to integrate health-care planning into their businesses. She plans to keep her firm small—her goal is about 100 client families—so she has time to stay closely connected with them, remain active in education and develop better processes for the advisor community.

Her advisory business differs dramatically from the mainstream of the profession. McClanahan, who specialized in family medicine and emergency medicine, accompanies clients with very serious health issues to medical appointments. But aside from asking clients what they do to take care of their health, she doesn’t typically don her medical hat until they have a major health issue, she says.

“We ask about health because that helps us do better planning,” she says. “You plan very differently for someone who has an unhealthy lifestyle or who already has significant health problems as opposed to someone who is very healthy and takes good care of themself.”

Life Planning Partners also helps assuage some of the biggest fears of its seriously ill clients: “Do I have the money to treat this illness?” “Is it going to decimate my family?” “Who will take care of things, including my finances?”

“I was a math nerd in high school,” says McClanahan, 51, who briefly considered becoming an actuary. Her role as an athletic trainer in high school and college eventually motivated her to pursue a career in medicine.

She began thinking about finances after earning her M.D. degree from the University of Mississippi. She opened an IRA as a low-paid medical resident, then helped her husband invest money he inherited from his parents who had died. “That was in the mid-’90s and we thought we were brilliant and we did fairly well,” she says. “Of course, everyone was brilliant back then.”

By 2000, the couple, then in their mid-30s, realized they needed more financial guidance. “We had this nice pot of money and were getting nervous and not really knowing what we were doing,” she says. They also wanted to know if they could afford for her husband to give up engineering to become a track coach. Finding a planner proved difficult. “Back then, especially in Jacksonville, everyone was pretty much a salesperson,” she says. “It was all about investments.”

McClanahan has also been a good resource for Columbia, S.C.-based Abacus Planning Group, a fee-only wealth management firm that manages $832 million in assets for 192 clients. “She has a unique perspective and brings a lot of knowledge to the table that the rest of us don’t have,” says Molly Thomas, a registered paraplanner and the insurance strategist at Abacus. “She helps marry the two worlds,” adds Thomas, referring to the medical and financial sides of health care.

Abacus is now better able to help clients understand their medical records and what insurance companies look for in them. During open-enrollment periods, the firm reviews prescription drug cost options with clients, adds Thomas.

She finds McClanahan’s recent presentations on planning for health-care costs in retirement particularly useful. “How are we even supposed to start talking about that,” asks Thomas, “when someone who retires at 60 may live to 100?”

McClanahan has encouraged Abacus to ask clients open-ended questions about their health, including whether there is anything they’d like their planning team to know. These conversations help minimize surprises when doing financial planning—“Not that there’s a crystal ball,” says Thomas—and helps Abacus know how to have health-related conversations with clients’ children.

Abacus team members also do a lot of role-playing with one another to practice the best way to weave health care into conversations with clients, says Thomas.

McClanahan is thrilled that other advisors are stepping up their emphasis on health-care planning. “Our BHAG, or our big hairy audacious goal,” she says, “is to be a financial planning firm that other firms want to emulate.”

Article Source: Financial Advisor magazine

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