Imagine going to a Primary Care Physician for the first time. You discover that recently she’s changed her practice. Instead of Dr. Feelgood, MD the name has changed to Big Pharma Doctors, Inc. Her practice is no longer emblazoned with her picture, but the picture of various pills produced by a large pharmaceutical company. In the lobby, there are commercials on loop of mature couples in bathtubs on the beach and smiling athlete endorsements talking about joint pain.
You feel a bit uneasy, however, the waiting room has marble floors. The staff is all very well dressed. They’ve got a complimentary coffee bar. You’ve seen their commercial running on local and national TV. Classical music wafts gently over hidden speakers. They must be doing something right.
Once back in the exam room, you spend 30 minutes filling out a questionnaire. You hand it to the nurse who smiles and lets you know that the doctor will be in soon. After another 30 minutes, Dr. Feelgood comes in and says, “Hi there, I’ve looked at your questionnaire and your chart and I think you should have these two pills.”
You recognize the pills are the same ones advertised on the commercials that run continuously in the lobby. Concerned you tell the doctor you don’t have any joint pain or difficulty taking a bath outdoors, not that you’ve tried. You were simply coming in for a wellness exam. Dr. Feelgood replies, “Oh, well these are really good pills. We sell a lot of them. In fact, we manufacture these pills. Everybody knows these pills are fantastic. You are going to like these pills bigly.”
What would you do in this situation at this moment? You’d leave, of course.
This is an extreme scenario to make a point. If a doctor works for a pharmaceutical company, he or she doesn’t work for you. Your doctor’s responsibility is to do no harm to the patient, not sell more pills.
The metaphor applies to financial services salespeople who offer a limited variety of financial products. Some are even selling proprietary products. These products are not inherently bad, but the structure of their business could put them in a conflict of interest. Are they working for you are the financial services company they represent?
In my blog about Sharks vs. Dolphins, I warned to watch out for limited or proprietary product offerings. Instead, work with a financial planner who takes a fiduciary role. This is a person who puts your interests first, avoids conflicts of interest and discloses any unavoidable conflicts of interest. If you’d like to learn more about what to look for click here to contact us.