Build Your Wealth Like a Steinway Piano

By Reese Harper, CFP® , CEO of Dentist Advisors    |   Advisors, Taxes

When a letter from Steinway & Sons arrived for Harold Krueger telling him he was officially the owner of the world’s oldest Steinway grand, it caught him off guard. Manufactured in 1859, it was carefully passed down through his family, generation after generation after generation. Little did he know that a worldwide search by Steinway and Sons found Krueger’s piano was officially the oldest in existence that still had all of its original parts—you could still tickle its ivories.

Henry Engelhard Steinway came over from Germany and began making pianos in a Manhattan loft in 1853, and the world had no idea how his artistry would change the music industry. Over the last century, Steinway & Sons have master-crafted the instrument of choice for some of the world’s most accomplished pianists.

Attention to detail is one reason why Steinways have become a standard for musicians whose livelihoods depend upon perfect tonal quality. The concert pianist knows there’s an art to a piano’s creation that results in extraordinary beauty. For them, there’s no room for compromise.

So what am I getting at?

As a dentist, you’ve arrived at the vocational equivalent of a concert pianist—you require a carefully crafted instrument to realize your wealth building potential. You can’t expect the demands of your career and lifestyle goals to be satisfied by generic, mass-produced financial products. Your financial plan should be more like a Steinway: customized, durable, and nurtured over time.


To this day, instead of simply following assembly line instructions, a Steinway mastercraftsman hand produces each piano adapting to its nuances while relying on experience to ensure the best outcome.

Most of you have had a “financial advisor” come into your office, and within five minutes, they know the “right” insurance product for you (it’s the same commission-based product they sell to mortgage brokers, roofing contractors, and tech entrepreneurs). In other words, they’ve given you the prescription before the diagnosis. And in most cases, they’ve done it before taking time to understand the dynamics of your profession.

As a dentist, you’re different. You should demand a well-crafted plan that accounts for your personal and professional goals, and includes much more than a 401(k), a life insurance policy, and some mutual funds.

Your financial plan should consider your net worth, a mix of assets, business performance, debt, short-term goals, long-term goals, behavioral tendencies, lifestyle choices, level of ambition, and even environmental factors like your upbringing and social dynamics (which influence how you think about money). Until the advisor you hire has a complete and accurate view of your situation, they have no business deciding how you should invest your money.


Components in Steinway pianos are always the best quality. Within the straight-grain maple, hardwood casing is a system of intricate parts including Renner actions, Mapes strings, and German Diamond tuning pins, just to name a few.

That makes Steinway pianos more expensive than most other brands. For the cost-conscious buyer, the higher price may be a deal breaker. But for dedicated musicians, who understand the lasting value, the purchase is viewed as a long term investment in better performance, less maintenance, and peace of mind.

Too often, like a cost-conscious piano shopper, dentists are fixated on getting the lowest rate for asset management and financial planning services. They expend time and energy searching for the lowest fee while giving little thought to the quality of service or the long-term outcomes they’ll get in return.

Unfortunately, the basis for this approach is a misperception that wealth management is a commodity. But be aware that the quality of advice throughout the financial services industry spans the distance from Mazda to Maserati. There’s nothing wrong with comparing prices as long as you put the same diligence into evaluating the horsepower of the advice you’ll be getting.

An expert advisor will base your plan on a foundation of value-based, time-tested investment philosophies; is focused on depth of service over volume of clients; discloses all of their fees from the beginning; can anticipate challenges associated with your profession; helps you adopt better saving and spending habits; focuses on long term stability over short term gains; and knows how to design an investment portfolio that aligns with your individual goals.

Once you find that expert advisor, don’t be afraid to pay for his or her advice. Nothing will save you more money and headaches in the long run than good advice. Your lifestyle and livelihood depend on making sound financial decisions anchored by a clear strategy.

Nurtured Over Time

If you were to purchase a Steinway grand piano, it would need time to settle to find its unique timbre. When a master tuner provides proper care and maintenance, the sound becomes better as the instrument ages and gets accustomed to its acoustic surroundings. The musician who purchases a Steinway must be patient, waiting for the instrument to show its true potential.

When it comes to creating wealth, David Booth, chairman and CEO of Dimensional Fund Advisors (an advisement firm that Forbes says, “sets the standard for investor stewardship, innovation, and application”1) made a similar observation about investments: “The most important thing about an investment strategy is that you have one you can stick with.”

A financial plan isn’t much different than a dental treatment plan for a patient. You take some x-rays and then you follow a treatment plan, and then take more x-rays periodically. In financial planning for dentists, your x-rays should examine your personal and practice net worth statement. And those x-rays should show you a progress report indicating the change of your wealth over time. In financial planning, these financial x-rays should be reviewed on a quarterly basis. If your advisor has proper experience and training they’ll be able to identify adjustments to your treatment plan.

The treatment plan is something we put on a calendar—assigning essential topics to various months of the year. We recommend reviewing your taxes, debt, spending, savings, overhead, insurance, retirement accounts, investments, real estate, practice value, estate planning, and liquid reserves during specific months of the year, and then repeating the process—just like a healthy work-out routine. A real plan and a real advisor should be following a treatment calendar so that all of your financial issues are addressed proactively.


Duke Ellington took the “A Train” on his Steinway.

George Gershwin wrote, “Embraceable You” on his.

Russian great Sergei Rachmaninoff used a Steinway to compose classics.

John Lennon could “Imagine” a world of peace on a Steinway & Sons grand.

And Diana Krall accompanies her sultry jazz vocals on hers.

Just like a Steinway for these celebrated artists, will the plan you choose give you long-lasting value, better performance, and help you reach your true financial potential?

Call us today at (800) 890-8095 to schedule a free consultation with one of our wealth advisors.

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