As a trusted financial advisor, your clients rely on you to help them build and protect their financial assets. But there is another key client asset that needs as much, if not more, attention-their health. The serious or chronic illness or unexpected medical incident, of a client or family member, can have a devastating effect on their financial as well as their physical well-being.

You need look no further than the headlines in The Wall Street Journal for proof. McDonald's Corp.'s CEO Jim Cantalupo, who turned the fast food giant around, suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 60 at a company convention. His successor, Charlie Bell was only in the job a month before his cancer was diagnosed. He served as CEO for just six months and died at 44, two months after stepping down, causing turmoil at McDonald's.

An even more catastrophic example comes from TLC Beatrice International Holdings Corp., a snack food, beverage and grocery store conglomerate that was the largest African-American-owned and managed business in the U.S. When Reginald F. Lewis, CEO and controlling shareholder, died of a cerebral hemorrhage at 50, the company went through a series of leaders, ending with Lewis' widow, who eventually dissolved the company.

While your clients' experiences may not be as catastrophic, ill health does have a negative impact on their ability to effectively run their enterprises and to build assets. In addition to being preoccupied with health concerns, they spend time away from work at physicians' appointments or recovering from medical procedures. Many people also spend a significant number of hours researching treatment options and which physicians and hospitals have the best track record treating their condition. The same kind of distraction occurs when a family member is ill or there are worries about the health of a spouse, child or aging parent. Though your clients are physically "at work," they are not operating at full capacity.

Becoming Your Clients' Health Resource
Good health and peace of mind regarding health issues form the foundation for success in all other areas of life. That's why many financial advisors are expanding their roles and incorporating new tools and approaches that can help safeguard their clients' most essential asset.
There are many different partners you can work with to fulfill this new role. Concierge medical practices are one option. These physician groups usually charge an annual membership fee in addition to a per service fee for care and offer their patients personal attention and fast access to care. The drawback to this approach is that it ties patients to one set of physicians. In some instances, those physicians may not have the expertise  with a certain illness of another physician.

Another option is to build an alliance with a major medical center of excellence through philanthropic giving to that institution by your client. But that support does not guarantee your clients fast access to the care they need, and the medical center they support may not be the best place to seek treatment for a specific condition like a concierge practice would be.

A third option is to work with a private health advisory firm, a new and growing field. These firms charge members an annual fee and act as a complete health management team. When exploring this option, you should seek a partner with a breadth of resources, including:
The ability to provide your clients with facilitated access to top medical practitioners around the world;
An expert team dedicated to performing in-depth, scientifically objective research on any health topic on your client's behalf;
Dedicated personal service that allows your clients to build a comfortable relationship with their health management team;
Worldwide services and support including emergency evacuation and the ability to link clients with top physicians across the globe;
A range of relationship options, since some of your clients will want more wide-ranging services than others.

Be Proactive
Becoming a health resource for your clients means encouraging them to take a proactive approach to protecting their health. The goal is to help clients work toward achieving and maintaining their best health and managing risk factors for heart disease, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

Executive physicals, preventive care and regular screenings are important tools. Keep in mind, however, that not all executive physical programs offer the same services, so it's important to work with your health advisory partner to find the program that best fits your client's needs.

In addition to traditional tests like EKGs, mammograms and colon cancer screenings, your clients can consider other screenings to make their preventive approach even more robust. One example is Biophysical250, which uses a blood test to measure 250 biomarkers, allowing clinicians to identify real and potential health risks. It does not test for genetic diseases that have no cure like Huntington's disease or Alzheimer's. Another new tool comes from Inner Imaging, which provides ultra-fast heart scans that determine the presence of calcium in coronary arteries, a sign of plaque build up and atherosclerosis.