For more than a decade, Dee Balliett partnered with her RIA husband, Gene, in financial planning seminars for doctors in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and Latin and South America. To enhance her skills, she earned a master's degree in mental health counseling at age 60.
“Part of my job was to focus on doctors’ money problems, to help them and their spouses get more aware of their money personalities and conflicts so they could get aligned and move forward,” she explained. (Mellan once had the honor of giving a dinner talk about couples and money to their clients.) This work was seldom easy, Balliett said. “With male doctors, a difficult issue was getting the wives involved with the process instead of deferring to the husband.”
Her opinion about working with doctors is mixed. “They are hard clients to deal with,” she advised. “Most of our clients were men, and a lot of them are Type A personalities, used to being in charge and having people follow their directions.”
The dynamic with female doctors was completely different, according to Balliett. “They weren't as Type A, as aggressive or as sure that they knew everything,” she related. “They were more willing to learn from our expertise.”
Given that there are almost as many women as men graduating from medical school these days (48% of graduates were women in 2011, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation), financial advisors may find more and more doctors willing to listen and look before they leap.