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Financial Vitals: What do James Bond and dentists have in common?

July 20, 2016
What do James Bond and dentists have in common? A lot more than impossibly good looks and endless piles of money. What we expect out of James Bond movies can explain a lot about the financial behavior of dentists. Get financial advice for dentists here.
What do James Bond and dentists have in common? A lot more than impossibly good looks and endless piles of money.

Skyfall, the most popular Bond movie in history, grossed over $1 billion worldwide-making it the 14th highest grossing movie of all time. In this rendition, James Bond (Daniel Craig) has an assignment that has gone gravely wrong, causing agents around the world to become exposed. Of particular concern is the danger posed to secret agent "M" (Judy Dench) who is a close friend and mother figure to Bond-both of Bond's parents died in France when he was 11.

Awaiting Bond is a relentless series of obstacles, including massive explosions, car chases, and violent attacks by armies and enemies.

Now, if it was your first time watching Skyfall, you might not be able to predict the specific twists and turns of the story, but you'd pretty much know how Bond would react. With all odds against him, he'd put everything on the line, including his own life, to navigate the adversity and save his beloved "M." Why? Because that's what heroes do.

You've seen this play out when you rooted for epic heroes like Luke Skywalker, Indiana Jones, or Kevin from Minions (OK, maybe he's not so epic). All of these characters fit into the hero archetype and therefore share a stereotypical set of attributes that drive their behavior.

Of course, the hero isn't the only character archetype. There's the villain (Darth Vader, the Wicked Witch of the West), the mentor (Yoda, Mr. Miyagi), the lover (Romeo, Juliet), and a long list of others. By associating characters with archetypes, their strengths and weaknesses become more apparent and their behavior becomes more predictable.

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But archetypes aren't limited to storybooks and screens. Financial experts have performed years of research to understand the relationship between personality types and money. For example, consultants Russ Alan Prince and Brett Van Bortel have developed nine archetypes to describe wealthy individuals.

I have taken these nine archetypes and applied them to real-life examples of dentists. For this article, I will introduce one archetype in particular called the family steward that a large majority of dentists emulate.1

Not unlike the hero, the family steward is highly committed to protecting those around him. If he were to express his thoughts about money, he would say, "My wealth allows me to take care of the people I love."

While a hero might possess superhuman strength and relentless determination, he invariably has an Achilles' heel (i.e., a weak spot), that enemies can exploit. For a family steward, that is a spouse, child, parent, or close relative.

A family steward overextends himself by funding college tuition, building expansive custom homes, or paying for extravagant vacations, parties, and cars for children. And he often neglects his own needs during retirement so he can leave a generous inheritance for his heirs.

Additionally, a family steward finds emotional satisfaction in bringing his children into dentistry and facilitating a generous succession plan, even if it means sacrificing his own financial health in the process. Aside from the personal financial risk, this approach may give the family steward's kids a crutch that precludes them from learning to work hard and make sacrifices like he had to.

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In moderation, a desire to provide a comfortable lifestyle for loved ones is admirable. But taken to the extreme, this behavior could put the family steward's own financial security in jeopardy.

To all the family stewards out there, be proud of your inclination to be generous. But take my advice and "put the oxygen mask on yourself first." Both you and your family will benefit in the long run as you get your personal finances in order and become more selective when it comes to saving the day for everyone around you.

Reference
1. Prince RA, Van Bortel B. The Millionaire's Advisor: High-Touch, High-Profit Relationship Strategies of Advisors to the Wealthy. New York, NY: Institutional Investor News; 2003.

Reese Harper is host of the Dentist Money Show, a weekly podcast dedicated to helping dentists make smart financial decisions. He is also founder and CEO of DentistAdvisors.com, a registered investment advisory firm which focuses exclusively on dentists and specialists. His trademarked planning methodology called Elements is used by dentists all over the country to plan, invest, and retire better.