Are Our More Senior Practitioners up to the Task?

I’m sure most of us are starting to experience the retirement of their trusted professionals. My life long doctor retired just over ten years ago. My dentist retired almost two years ago. No doubt it’s a question many clients will be asking themselves where they have more senior advisers. When is my doctor, dentist, accountant, lawyer going to retire? It’s going to happen; it’s just a matter of when, and replacing these trusted relationships is really quite hard. I know, because I have had to do it. I am effectively having to find another expert with whom I can form another bond with for a further thirty or forty years.

I remember I had been wondering to myself when my dentist was going to hang up the drill and dental floss. I had guestimated that he was probably around his mid-sixties. I recall visiting him in January two years ago. The check-up proceeded as usual, no identifiable problems, a quick clean and off I go. However a month or so later I received a letter from the dentist explaining that his lease had come up and given his position within his career it was not feasible to renew the lease for a further term, so he was ceasing practice. The usual question comes to mind along the lines of what am I going to do now. Naturally, what he was explaining made perfect sense, but I must admit that having only been to an appointment within a month or so of receiving the letter, I also felt a little disappointed. In fact, I had even booked in for another check-up later in the year. So was that the best way to handle the announcement, I don’t know. But, then again, he wasn’t endeavouring to sell his practice so I suppose it didn’t matter.

What was interesting though was fast forward to the latter months of that year, and whilst away overseas, I took a huge chunk out of a tooth. Great, I now need to find a new dentist. Where do I start? I considered trying a local provider near where I worked for convenience. However ultimately after asking around, I went to the dentist surgery utilised by one of my staff members, which was also convenient to where I worked.

Now you know you are starting to get older when all of the medical professionals such as doctors and dentist look like they should still be in school. But just think about, if you are happy with their service, then hopefully that will be the last time you will have to find someone new. As the dentist went through the process of patching up my tooth, the usual questions such as how often do you see a dentist, when was the last time you had x-rays etc started coming up.

I had long acknowledged that my prior dentist was still ‘old school’ in his approach to servicing clients. The new dentist surgery exhibited the more modern approach to operating a practice. So upon my second trip to the dentist in quick succession, a full x-ray of my mouth suggested I had several problem areas that were going to require attention. In fact, for a third visit to the dentist within a couple of months I signed up for two hours in the chair and three fillings. These were not areas that had been causing me discomfort or problems, but clearly visible on the x-ray were these issues. As I pondered this sudden increase in attention for my teeth, I wondered to myself whether my prior dentist’s approach was outdated and to a degree a little negligent or was my new dentist ‘over servicing’ and finding problems that weren’t really there. Had my long standing dentist missed these issues due to his age and perhaps seniority within this career and his more ‘old school’ approach to provide his service?

Obviously it’s a question I will never really have the answer to, however it does spark a degree of curiosity when it comes to other professionals such as accountants, lawyers and financial planners. Are they still on top of their game? Are they up-to-date with the latest rulings, judgements, tax planning and recommendations? I recall visiting one of our oldest clients approximately two years ago, who was in their late eighties (unfortunately they have now passed away) and wondering whether they were still current in the knowledge and skills that they required. Certainly looking at them it was almost like visiting a grandparent. However, the converse of this is when you are receiving expert advice from someone who looks like they have just left school. Obviously it will be a ‘horses for courses’ thing when it comes to the comfort level and trust a client places in any of these advisers and there will no doubt be many other providers within the ranges between these two examples. Nonetheless, it is certainly something to ponder. Are our more senior practitioners better to retire with pride and a client’s continued support and belief, or do they wait until clients may begin to lose faith in an adviser’s capabilities and advice, eventually but prematurely taking their business elsewhere before the practitioner retires?

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