Friday, May 22, 2015

How IVF doctors are like investment advisors

There are lots of similarities between IVF specialists and financial planners.

1. Uncertain outcomes. Both are professionals who specialize in their particular field but while they can be extremely good at their job , they can never be certain as to what the final outcome of their advice to their clients will be. Just like IVF doctors need to deal with biological variability which is not under their control, financial planners and investment advisors need to deal with the uncertainty of the market - again something that is out of their control, because it is a complex adaptive system, with multiple moving parts .

2.  A personal philosophy as a north star. How well the advisor does, and how well the IVF doctor performs, depends on their personal philosophy. Planners who invest for the long term and who put their client’s interest first , will do very well over an extended period of time. This is equally true for IVF doctors as well. Those who put patients first ; incorporate the patient’s personal preferences when crafting the treatment plan; and are willing to respect their patient's intelligence and ability to decide, will also do well over their lifetime.

3.   Personalisation. Just like a financial advisor will customize the plan he provides to his client, an IVF doctor will do this as well - after all, it's not sensible to adopt a " one size fits all" approach.

4. Openness and transparency. Both good doctors and planners are very open with their clients. They share information proactively, and document everything they do. They respect their clients, and take the time and trouble to educate them as to what they are doing and why. The planner will explain why he has chosen to invest in a particular company, and the doctor will explain why he has selected a particular superovulation protocol for his patient. Both provide their customers with evidence of what they have done -  embryo photos in the case of the doctor; and a regularly updated portfolio statement in the case of the planner. This creates trust, and ensures they develop a good reputation over their lifetime.

5. Client selection. Finally, the key to success for both financial planners and IVF doctors is client selection. Planners should be willing to work only for mature clients who are willing to take a long-term view. Investment advisors who have clients who ask them immature questions like - Why did the Sensex go down yesterday? Or which share is likely to go up tomorrow? are likely to be miserable and unhappy , because it’s not possible for them to answer these questions. They need to select clients who understand that over a short period of time , it’s impossible to know how the market will behave , but over a long period of time, equity returns are usually very good, provide you select your companies carefully.  Good IVF doctors will also try to work only with patients who are well-informed and who have realistic expectations from the IVF treatment. This way their patient no longer asks them - Why did the IVF cycle fail ? because the patient has the maturity to understand that the IVF doctor doesn’t know the answer to this question , and that there is no one in the world who is capable of answering it correctly ( just like no one can predict whether the market will do up or down tomorrow, except for a charlatan or a quack) .  More importantly , the patient has been properly educated to understand that this is a pointless question because it really doesn’t change anything as far as the next plan of action goes . Over a period of time, just like the ability of a good planner to multiply his client's wealth is very high, the ability of a good IVF doctor to provide his patients with a baby over a number of cycles is extremely high . However, patients need to have that confidence in their doctor's ability .  Mature customers know that you cannot judge the success of the financial advisor over a period of a few months , because markets can  go up and down for all kinds of reasons. Similarly, mature patients know that you cannot judge the competence of an IVF clinic based on its success rate over 1-2 IVF cycles.

Investment advisors and IVF doctors share a lot of common traits , and they can learn from each other , because both of them ultimately deal with human beings. One will help you to maximize your wealth while the other one will help you to get a baby.

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