First, Do No Harm.

The Hippocratic Oath is the oath taken by physicians and is considered by many to be the source of medical ethics[1].  The oath is one of the more popular Greek medical texts and is named after Hippocrates who lived during the 5th century B.C.[2]  A section of the modern version of the oath is, “I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.”[3]

What’s missing from the Hippocratic Oath is the phrase, “First, do no harm.” The popular saying isn’t part of the oath; however, the spirit of the term remains.[4]

Can you imagine visiting a doctor who hasn’t taken the Hippocratic Oath?  I can’t.  When I visit my doctor, I assume he’s taken the oath and will do no harm, especially to me.  A doctor is expected to administer medical care regardless of the circumstance.   During the College World Series between LSU and Florida Dr. Jerry Poche, father of LSU star pitcher Jared Poche, helped save the life of an elderly fan.  Dr. Poche and Jimmy Roy, another parent, administered CPR until the paramedics arrived.[5]  Dr. Poche acted swiftly to save the gentlemen’s life and he did no harm.

Registered Investment Advisors are under a fiduciary oath.  The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) fiduciary oath starts with the sentence, “Always act in good faith and with candor.”[6]   The fiduciary standard originated with the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and recently the Department of Labor recently passed the fiduciary rule requiring all financial professionals who work with retirement plans or provide retirement planning advice to be fiduciaries.[7]

The Certified Financial Planner Board requires their members to adhere to the fiduciary standard when providing financial planning services but this may be changing.   The CFP board is looking to change their stance on fiduciary status to include investment advice along with financial planning services.  In a sense, any individual who holds the CFP designation will be required to always act as a fiduciary.

As you look for an advisor to help you with your financial planning and investment advice look for one who’s a fiduciary and has taken a fiduciary oath!

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. ~ Galatians 6:9.

Bill Parrott, CFP® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management.  For more information on financial planning and investment management please visit www.parrottwealth.com.

July 2, 2017

 

[1] https://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/greek/greek_oath.html, Michael North, National Library of Medicine, 2002.

[2] http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/hippocratic-oath-today.html, Peter Tyson, 3/27/2001, Nova.

[3] http://www.psychceu.com/ethics/do_no_harm.asp, 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University

[4] http://guides.library.jhu.edu/c.php?g=202502&p=1335752

[5] http://www.nola.com/lsu/index.ssf/2017/06/a_pair_of_lsu_baseball_dads_re.html, Andrew Lopez, 6/27/17/

[6] https://www.napfa.org/mission-and-fiduciary-oath

[7] http://www.investopedia.com/updates/dol-fiduciary-rule/

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