We hope that you now understand that there are significant differences between Doctors and Average Americans—at least in terms of basic demographic data. This book will hopefully teach you how you should act when faced with financial and legal issues. These very different attitudes and methods of approaching wealth planning are integral to your success.
We also hope that you have gained some insight into why nearly every newspaper, financial website and financial magazine is forced to focus its content on a group of subscribers or readers that have a very different set of concerns than Doctors. These media outlets need to provide “common sense” advice to the general public (i.e. Average Americans) to fit their business model of attracting the most eyeballs. There are simply far more Average American “eyeballs” than there are wealthy, or more specifically Doctor, “eyeballs.”
It stands to reason that, if financial “common sense” has been developed for (and should generally be used by) Average Americans, then this common sense will not apply to physicians. In fact, the only way Doctors can achieve desired levels of wealth and have peace of mind is to follow advice that doesn’t make “common sense.”
Going against “common sense” is not easy. There are many deeply rooted psychological factors that push someone to go with the crowd, rather than against it. This is certainly true in the financial planning context. As an example, consider this proposition:
It is a bad financial idea for a Doctor to pay off a mortgage and own a home outright. For many of you reading this now, this may be difficult, if not impossible, to believe. It is exactly the opposite of what your parents told you (and they are the smart people who taught you so many life lessons). It is the polar opposite of what Suze Orman and hundreds of websites, magazine articles, and television programs suggest. Further, it just may not “feel” right, because it goes against what all of your friends are doing. Keep those feelings and thoughts in mind when you read the other Lessons in the book.
Why Ignoring “Common Sense” Is So Difficult
Most children and adolescents try desperately to “fit in.” As we get older, we try to find the right groups in college. In our first jobs, we want to toe the company line. All states have laws that govern our behavior. Most religions have commandments, rules, or other codices of condoned and forbidden activities.
Most people avoid actions they fear their friends and relatives would criticize—or at the very least, they refrain from sharing details of their potentially critical activities with their family and friends. We are not implying that Americans are sheep. Rather, we are saying that society typically rewards those who are similar and creates more challenges for those who are not.
This is not a particularly astute observation. It is merely support for the significance of the #1 challenge that must be overcome if you are to truly work less and build more. To do so, you not only have to admit to being different from Average Americans, but you also have to EMBRACE the fact that you are different.
Embrace Affluence And Your Differences: A Key Lesson
If you want to successfully achieve or maintain wealth, you must be comfortable with your unique circumstances and be comfortable doing things differently than your friends. If your only comfort comes from doing something and knowing that “everyone else is doing it,” then you are destined to achieve and maintain mediocrity. Wealthy Americans became affluent by being different or by doing something different. If they did what everyone else did, they would be like 80% of Americans who earn less than $80,000 per year and they wouldn’t have achieved the wealth they now have.
Savvy physicians don’t want to “fit in.” They understand that Average Americans work very hard to pay their bills while scratching to save for retirement, occasional vacations, and precious luxury items. Savvy Doctors understand that the two groups have very different financial challenges that require different types of advisors and strategies. These physicians don’t need the financial and legal advisors and firms that cater to 150,000,000 Average Americans. Doctors don’t need techniques, strategies, or products that are adequate for the needs of the many. Doctors don’t need free checking, higher money market rates, lower online trading costs, do-it-yourself legal documents, or the advisor with the lowest hourly rate. Doctors don’t need advisors to tell them how nice their shoes are or how wonder-fully decorated their home or office is. They know these things are nice—they bought them. Doctors don’t need to be surrounded with “yes” men or women who agree with all of their suggestions. They need advisors to question them, challenge them, and help them consider all alternatives before taking action. Smart physicians shouldn’t put much stock in advisors who send calendars, fruit baskets, or sports tickets, or seek out advisors who will take them golfing or out to dinner. You can pay for all of those things yourself.
Doctors need to understand that there are millions of attorneys, accountants, investment advisors, and financial planners who would all like their business. You should know that many of these advisors and their firms regularly give away “special perks” to try to convince people to become new clients or to guilt them into staying with the firm. You should understand that an advisor referred by a friend is a good start, but a referred advisor from a friend who is in a different financial situation is likely a waste of time. There is an entire section on how to build your advisory team in Lesson #3: Accept Referrals to Specialists. The third lesson is a must read for anyone who picks up this book. Doctors have family and friends just like Average Americans do. You want to spend your valuable and limited free time with your friends (and some of it with family—just like Average Americans). When you spend time with your advisors, you need to make the most of the time by focusing on the important issues you are paying the advisors to help you manage. You should want your advisors to generate a significant return (on the fees you pay them) in value for your family and practice. Like Average Americans, Doctors can’t help but talk business and finance with friends. A common characteristic of successful physicians is that they don’t need to brag about their planning or convince their friends to work with the same advisors to generate peace of mind. You need to cherish the novelty of being different. Practically, you should put more effort into choosing your team than you do in the criticism of the solutions and strategies the team recommends and implements. You should not ask friends or other unqualified outsiders for approval of your planning. This would be like one of your patients asking his barber for advice on how you should do your medical procedure. This isn’t to say that Doctors shouldn’t review and challenge the advisors suggestions and bring in other experts for second opinions. This is a significant and very important part of building and maintaining wealth (Lesson #10).
Average Americans look for bits of cheap advice on websites, in magazines and newspapers, and on television and radio. The Average American relies on mutual fund recommendations that come in a $5 magazine or on a free website that could possibly reach millions of different people per day. Smart Doctors never give a second thought to any financial or legal suggestion that isn’t offered by someone who is intimately familiar with their situation and goals. Doctors don’t want to spend the time and money for customized planning—they MUST spend the time and money on a specially trained and experienced team of advisors to customize a plan that will help them most efficiently and effectively reach their specific, personal goals.
Whether you are a young Doctor trying to pay off some student loans and save for retirement or a successful physician trying to save what you’ve earned from taxes, lawsuits, or a divorce, you have important challenges in your financial life. As we hope you have gleaned from our discussions above, there is an abundance of financial information and advice to be found. However, if you are a physician who wants to learn the lessons that will help you build and protect wealth, this book is for you. Much of the information presented in the 10 Lessons may be financial lessons and advice that you literally cannot get anywhere else. This book contains only some of the important lessons that you can learn when you accept referrals to specialists who are experts at helping Doctors with their unique challenges. To learn more about how these specialists can help you and why you need them, you should read the next section, Lesson #3—Accept Referrals to Specialists.