REVIEW: "Doctor's Eyes Only" by Tom Martin, Paul Larson and Jeff Larson

Doctor's Eyes Only: Exclusive Financial Strategies for Today's Doctors and Dentists
By Thomas S. Martin CFP, Paul D. Larson CFP, Jeffrey S. Larson RFC

Full disclosure: I received “Doctor’s Eyes Only” during a meeting with a representative of Larson Financial Group, LLC.  I ultimately did not enroll in their services.  Not because I did not believe in the value of their services, but rather because I wanted to learn more about the world of financial planning myself.

Continuing our series of book reviews, today we take a look at “Doctor’s Eyes Only: Exclusive Financial Strategies for Today’s Doctors and Dentists” by Tom Martin, Paul Larson and Jeff Larson.  The authors bill it as “the missing financial guide that physicians need as a supplement to their ongoing professional training.  These pages include basic financial wisdom that could end up saving you millions of dollars throughout your medical career.”  Let’s see if they succeeded in that claim…

Content: A+

The book is divided into 10 chapters that covers the important areas that the authors deem “every doctor must address in order to build and implement a properly balanced and coordinated financial plan.”  Each chapter offers definitions of important concepts and basic advice regarding how to optimize that specific section of your financial life with some minor overlaps between related chapters.  For example, Both “Risk Management” and “Asset Protection” touch on medical malpractice insurance.  I will avoid going into details on each chapter for the sake of brevity but the advice is sound and more importantly, basic enough for the financially uninitiated to understand.  Keep in mind that the book was published in 2012 so some information (e.g. Tax brackets) needs updating.

  1. Cash Flow: Keep $3,000,000 and Regain Peace of Mind
  2. Debt Management: Get the Monkey Off Your Back
  3. Risk Management: Protect Your Income
  4. Investment Management: Stop Giving Away Your Growth
  5. Education Planning: Avoid the Normal Errors Parents Make
  6. Tax Planning: Stop Giving the IRS 60% of Your Income
  7. Estate Planning: Create a Legacy and Disinherit the IRS
  8. Asset Protection Planning: Beat a Lawsuit Before it Begins
  9. Practice Management: Become a Successful Practitioner and Business Leader
  10. Employee Benefit Plans: Build on Efficient Benefits Structure

An important concept introduced in Chapter 1 is the division of your financial life into 3 phases of wealth building:

  • Phase 1: The Lean Years-Survival.  Most residents and fellows fall into this phase.
  • Phase 2: Disposable Income-Success.  Attending physicians in the beginning of their careers.
  • Phase 3: Meaningful Wealth-Significance.  When you accumulate assets of $1 million or more.

Not surprisingly, each phase requires a different focus in the financial areas outlined in the 10 chapters.  For example, “Estate Planning” and “Asset Protection” are more important in Phase 3 than Phase 1.

Readability: B- 

Like other books with a focus on the technical topics of finance, “Doctor’s Eyes Only” is no Dan Brown page-turner.  In fact, I had to read the book in multiple settings.  The authors did their best to improve the readability by including lots of figures, tables and real life examples from their physician clients, but the bottom line is – this is a book you have to read with intention.

Advertising Bias: A-

Given that 2 out of the 3 authors share the name Larson and are deeply involved with the Larson Financial Group, LLC, some amount of commercial bias was expected.  The key concept running through the entire book is that “You would find it foolish for patients to attempt surgery on themselves” with the idea that your financial life is better left to the professionals.  Just because there is a conflict of interest does not make it bad advice.  I would agree that this is sound advice for the majority of medical trainees.  Although following the same example, as a good surgeon, you would also encourage your patients to learn as much as possible about a pending procedure so they can make an informed decision.

Overall Rating: Solid A – Highly Recommended

Good introduction to personal financial planning for the medical trainee and pretty much any high-income earning professional.  Providing solid advice with some advertising bias, “Doctor’s Eyes Only” does require some reader persistence to finish but I assure you it’s an easier read than Robbin’s Pathology.