The Renaissance heralded a wide-ranging cultural rebirth. The period saw the invention of movable type, advances in architecture and medicine, the beginnings of what we know as modern diplomacy and much more. It also gave birth to the term “renaissance man.”
The ultimate Renaissance man may have been Leonardo DaVinci. Today, most know him as the painter of the Mona Lisa, but he was also a mathematician, an engineer, an architect, a musician, a cartographer and more. You might expect someone so accomplished to have embraced complexity, yet DaVinci believed that, “simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.”
The dog’s breakfast that is PPACA and its never-ending regulations (many apparently written in pencil on post-it notes so they are easily changed at a moment’s notice) has caused advisors to become nearly as multifaceted as DaVinci. In addition to the requisite people skills advisors have always needed, today’s successful advisor needs to be part lawyer, technician, accountant, interpreter and entrepreneur. In the process, we have, out of necessity, created and embraced a lot of complexity. As we strive to absorb the change around us, the challenge is to balance the requisite sophistication in our practices while tending to the more basic challenges that clients still face.
I thought of DaVinci’s admonition when I came across a disturbing study published in the Journal of Health Economics and headlined, “Many do not understand their insurance.” The disturbing – yet unsurprising – results point out how much “unsophisticated” work we have yet to do. The study gauged survey respondents’ ability to understand four concepts: deductible, copay, co-insurance and out-of-pocket- maximum.
See also: MIT and Harvard: Reality vs. theory