Who’s Keeping an Eye on Your Problem List?

Newsletter Edition #1 May 2021

My dad had a medical procedure a few months ago.

The procedure, though invasive, wasn’t high risk.  Prior to his visit to the hospital, Dad’s medications were reviewed and adjusted.  One specialist recommended stopping two specific meds in order to reduce the risk of complications during the procedure.  All good.  Except another specialist chimed in and recommended only stopping one medication.  Stopping both would create other problems we hadn’t bargained for, he felt.   Open, collaborative communication was essential in order to agree on the right course of action.

The day of the procedure arrived.  COVID restrictions meant I wouldn’t be able to wait in the hospital, but my office was only six minutes away.  The expected time required for the procedure came and went, and I finally got word that Dad was in recovery – but with an elevated heart rate and fever.  He was being moved to Urgent Care for monitoring, and the doctors would be in touch.  Okay then.

Another (long) hour passed.   Suddenly, a call from the doctor.  Her tone was concerned and urgent.  Did I have the ‘Problem List’ from Dad’s local healthcare provider?   My head was swimming.  Is that a medical term, I asked?  The doctor assured me it was.  I rushed off to call Dad’s local doctor in a panic.  Within minutes, Mary at the office had jumped into action and I had the Problem List.  With it, the doctors in Urgent Care now had all of the pieces to my Dad’s healthcare puzzle.  He was soon transferred to another hospital for overnight monitoring and additional tests.

The next evening, Dad was released and he’s now on the mend.

Over the next few weeks, as Dad recovered, I couldn’t get this whole idea of the Problem List out of my head. What a concept – one with strong parallels between our healthcare system and the sort of wealth advising I do for my families.  The healthcare system has plenty of family physicians, specialists, nurse practitioners – and administrative people like Mary – who are confident and competent in their roles. And thank God for that.  But the challenges of accessing and exchanging information quickly and efficiently – when it’s needed most – can sometimes prevent a team of competent professionals from making the best decision for the patient.  (Dr. Lorelei Lingard from Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry gave a TEDx Talk on this topic, entitled Collective Competence, and it’s well worth watching).

The same seems to be at play in wealth advice.

For business families to feel fully confident in their own financial affairs, they’d likely benefit from a trusted advisor – a  champion for the family.  Among other responsibilities, this person would gather the ‘Problem Lists’ from family members, ensure the information gets shared accurately and effectively amongst the family, and collaborate with each of the family’s appointed specialists (those doctors in Urgent Care).  Beyond merely sharing information there needs to be a means to illustrate the “big picture” to the family in a way that’s both comprehensive and also simple and understandable.

Information is one thing.  Accessing it and understanding is another.

Three questions for you to consider:

  1. Have you identified your own Problems List?
  2. Is there a trusted advisor, a family champion, watching over it for you?
  3. Do you also have an Opportunities List?


By Mike Andrews


Assante Capital Management Ltd. Is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and is registered with the investment industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. 

This material is provided for general information and is subject to change without notice.  Every effort has been made to compile this material from reliable sources however no warranty can be made as to its accuracy or completeness.  Before acting on any of the above, please make sure to see a professional advisor for individual financial advice based on your personal circumstances