Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most common questions regarding financial planning for physicians and dentists.

Our Clients

Does SDT help clients who are not physicians or dentists?

Yes, each year, approximately 25-30% of our new clients are executives, entrepreneurs, or retirees outside the medical and dental fields. The common characteristics of the clients we serve best are they:

  • Want thoughtful, holistic planning
  • Want a central point of advice to simplify financial confusion
  • Have significant wealth or cash flow which requires tax-sensitive financial planning
Do you work with people across the country or just your region?

We serve clients all over the country in more than 30 states. We make it easy to build a personal relationship and communicate with our clients in person, by phone, or by Zoom - using all as needed.

How many clients do you work with?

Each of our advisors serves approximately 60-120 clients, but this varies based on the complexity of the clients and the advisor's specialized knowledge.


Do you offer a free consultation?

Yes, of course. We're very committed to ensuring we mutually explore if working together would be a good fit. After an initial phone call to understand your needs and answer preliminary questions, we always start with a complimentary consultation to further discuss your goals, fears, and history with money to explore how our unique process might be of value. 

What is your process?

The financial planning process is an ongoing relationship of 4 basic steps:

  • Discuss your goals, priorities, and life changes
  • Review current financial progress and available options
  • Implement thoughtful changes
  • Monitor carefully

If you're looking for a more detailed, step-by-step timeline, please take a moment to review the entire process on our financial planning web page.

How long does the process take to get started?

After our initial complimentary consultation, we can start the process within 24 hours. This involves providing you with a secure portal to upload documents and scheduling the first Education and Strategy Meeting. We generally schedule meetings about two weeks apart to give you enough time to gather and upload the information we need.

How often do we meet?
  • Within the first 6 months, we'll generally have 4-5 meetings (Goals Setting, Education and Strategy, and Progress Review)
  • Within the first year, we'll meet again quarterly to check on your progress
  • Annually, we'll meet to review and report on your progress and implement thoughtful changes as needed. We'll also customize our touch points during the year based on your preference and expected changes (such as tax planning or open enrollment for benefits)
Do we have to meet in person?

We make it easy to build a personal relationship and communicate with our clients in person, by phone, or by Zoom as desired.

How do I get started?

Just click here and let us know a little about you. We'll personally respond by email right away to coordinate a time for a quick phone call to get started. Or if you're really excited to get started now, just text 980-340-6920 and say, "I need a planner now!"

What is the easiest way to get in touch with an advisor?

We pride ourselves on being available and responsive to our clients. The easiest way to get in touch is usually by email or text.


What is your fee structure?
  • Planning and Advice fee: We operate on an annual flat-fee model with our clients. There are no additional charges for calls, emails, meetings, or messaging. Our annual fees for financial planning and ongoing advice typically range from $1,800 to $4,800 per year, with variations based on the complexity of your situation, the scope of services provided, and the frequency of review meetings. Business planning fees typically range from $3,000 to $25,000 annually, depending on the scope of work.
  • We are also compensated for the oversight and implementation we provide for wealth management and protection planning services, all of which can be found on our Fee Transparency page.
Why do you charge a planning fee every year?

Our annual Planning and Advice fee is set based on the overall complexity of your financial situation. It covers all the time required to address issues throughout the year, collaborate with your accountant or attorney, and be proactive with planning issues. Because our Planning and Advice fee is not driven by the number of meetings, conversations, emails, or time, you never have to worry about a surprise invoice. Some clients prefer to have the fee debited annually from their investment portfolio, while others prefer to pay by credit card. We've observed that, over time, there will be some years where there is a high level of engagement and strategy changes and other years where the process may be more streamlined. The only metric that would impact the annual Planning and Advice fee is a change in the overall complexity of your financial situation.

Do you ever reduce or increase your fees?

Yes, because our fee structure is based on complexity, a fee increase or decrease may be warranted as changes to your situation arise. For example, a dentist transitioning from a role as an associate to a practice owner would be an example of a fee increase. Additionally, a client transitioning to retirement may receive a fee decrease. Any changes to your advice and planning fee will always be disclosed to you.

Financial Planning

Is financial planning the same as investment management or retirement planning?
Financial planning involves assessing your financial situation and goals comprehensively, covering areas such as cash flow planning, saving, investing, retirement planning, tax planning, and insurance analysis. On the other hand, investment management specifically focuses on managing an individual's investment portfolio, including asset allocation, security selection, and portfolio monitoring. While financial planning often includes investment management, it encompasses broader aspects of personal finance beyond investments.
Does SDT help file my taxes and can SDT draft my estate documents?
Though tax planning and estate planning are part of our financial planning scope of services with clients, we are not licensed to file taxes or execute estate documents. However, we do partner and collaborate with these professionals on your behalf.
Can I manage my own investment portfolio and still hire you?

No, while some people prefer to take a hands-on approach to managing their investment portfolio, the clients we serve best do not have the time or interest to properly implement a savings plan on their own. Research shows it is difficult to remain emotionally unattached and make rational decisions, particularly during times of heightened market volatility. We offer portfolio management services to provide an objective point of view, as well as free up your time.

Review our Investment Philosophy to learn more about our approach.

About SDT

Are you fiduciaries, and what does that mean?

Yes, we serve as fiduciaries to our clients. While this is a complicated topic with nuances from different regulatory bodies, you can rest assured that we:

What makes you unique/different?

We -

  • are Doctor-dedicated
  • act as your Personal CFO
  • provide Holistic Planning by looking at the big picture of your life and goals
Is SDT proactive or reactive?

One of the primary reasons our clients hire us is our proactive "leadership" approach to financial planning. We do not wait for you to call us, ask for help, or perceive a need for us to start working. We maintain a diligent log of issues, opportunities, and timelines for each client so that we can proactively keep track of them and notify you when a relevant change needs to be discussed.

Is SDT an independent financial planning firm?

Yes, Spaugh Dameron Tenny is a privately owned LLC incorporated in North Carolina. As a full-service financial planning business, we operate in a highly regulated industry to serve our clients. Although we are owned by our employees, we partner with outside firms to support our regulatory requirements and provide the full-service experience our clients expect:

  • Ash Brokerage – independent insurance research and brokerage
  • eMoney – industry-leading financial planning software
  • National Financial Services – custodian of client accounts
  • MML Investor Services – broker-dealer ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements
What makes working with physicians and dentists unique?
How do you have a specialization in this area?

We have served the medical and dental profession since our founder, Herb Spaugh, began helping physicians in 1957. Although we help clients with financial complexity from a variety of backgrounds today, our understanding of the unique needs of healthcare providers includes nuances like:

  • Comprehensive knowledge of student loan repayment strategies and Public Service Loan Forgiveness
  • RVU and production-based variable compensation formulas
  • Network of resources for contract negotiation and compensation review
  • Private practice transition and sale strategies
  • Tiered career and retirement strategies based on clinical specialty
  • Unique insurance needs based on clinical specialty
  • Asset protection and estate planning techniques

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