The Hippocratic Oath is most commonly associated with the medical profession, and while it was first written around 5th Century BC, it remains part of modern professional conduct to this day. The original oath is actually a quite ‘non- politically correct’Do, and most people actually think of the Hippocratic Oath with regard to the latin, Primum non nocere, first, do no harm. Although considering the oath as this is perhaps historically incorrect, it is evidently emerging as the underlying sentiment.
Do no Harm.
Today, we have grown in to a heavily litigious society. So much so that laws, such as the good Samaritan law, have been implemented in the attempt to protect those who seek to help, else they would fear to try. Such rules and laws tend to lend themselves towards situations of medical need, but what about for those seeking to help with professional advice, such as a financial planner?
Acting as a fiduciary for our clients, are we duty bound to put forward their own best interests, or is there a conflict of interest stemming from the overseeing body that certifies and regulates their industry? If the CFP Board is capable of stripping the CFP Mark from its members, and even willing to involve them in high profile court cases such as the Camaradas case in Florida, should a Planner fear more the relationship with the board, and instead in their best interests, over and above the fiduciary responsibility to the client?
In any well diversified practice, losing one client can be absorbed, but if the client lost is one that has an impact over all others, such as the way in which the company will be perceived, it might seem that makes one client more important than all of the rest, even though in this case the relationship is not advisor/client.
I wonder, as overseers make efforts to maintain global standardization, are people doing no harm in order to avoid scrutiny and conflict with the governing bodies, and as such, is the level of care provided the safer option for the advisor, rather than the best possible care that can be given to the client. If we are to provide truly excellent service, I think that we should be pushing the boundaries in terms of innovative solutions for our clients, and we also need to act in a manner that protects the client at all times, and clearly there will be times when we must decide, are we to do no harm by doing not enough good, or are we to increase the possibility of harm, within client agreed parameters, in order to offer the very best service.