Dr. Ashly and Mike Cothern, Ashly Cothern, DDS, Dallas, TX

Now that we have found Four Quadrants, miraculous things have happened. We’ve been able to save money like we never had before. It’s not really rocket science; it’s just these guys laying out the plan and us listening and doing what they say.


Dr. Ashly & Mike Cothern

Dr. Ashly and Mike Cothern stop by our office to reflect on how their finances have improved not just in the last year, but since hiring us three years ago.



The Cothern family couldn’t afford to get hurt again.

Financial advisors had over-promised and under- delivered one too many times. They were beginning to think the financial services industry was full of “snake oil salesmen.”

But the Cotherns, headed by Ashly, a Dallas-based DDS, and Mike, a public service officer in the area, had a dental enterprise to run. Life was getting more and more expensive as their four kids advanced in education and sports. Her dental practice had given Ashly ten years of full waiting rooms and loyal patients, but loads of stress from tight cashflow.

And retirement? Well, they had managed to amass $15,000 in savings, but they knew that was a paltry start. Simply put: Ashly was working too hard to have saved so little. They decided to give one more financial advisor a try. And this one was different. Not only would they get on track to become multi-millionaires by the time they were ready to retire, but they could also solve their cashflow problems.

That was three years ago, and the Cotherns were just getting ready to embark on a profitable relationship with the last financial advisors they would ever hire — Four Quadrants. Ashly and Mike stopped by our office recently to reflect on how their finances have improved not just in the last year, but since hiring us three years ago.

What was it that brought you to us initially?

Dr. Ashly Cothern - I had been practicing for about ten years, and I’m passionate about dentistry, I love dentistry, and I think I’m pretty good at what I do, but I found that we needed help in regards to business systems, increasing production and refining things. So I got into a relationship with a consulting firm.

They did a great job and helped me solidify some of those systems and allowed me to continue to enjoy dentistry and increase production. But they didn’t get to see the bank accounts. My bank account was low, and cashflow was really tight.

At that point . . . There was a frustration for both of us. I was at about year ten, and we went back to the management company and told them about our cashflow problems. They said “This isn’t really our forte, let us pass you on to someone who specializes in this,” and they sent us to Four Quadrants.

Mike Cothern - I think we were frustrated because she was doing everything she needed to do to have a successful practice. Her dental technical skills were off the charts, but we weren’t seeing the financial benefit to all of that hard work. It wasn’t paying off, so we’d gone through some dental consulting firms and it seems like each one of them was saying “Pay us first,” but the end product that they were promising didn’t line up with what we wanted. We finally found a firm that helped on the management side — how the business functions — but not the production, not the financial advice.

We just don’t have a background for figuring that out. I’m a public servant, I drive a squad car and go help people. Ashley helps people too in an entirely different way, but neither of us has a business degree.

Dental school does a great job of preparing you for the technical side, but they don’t have even a one- semester class on practice management and financial advice. She went to school to be a dentist but running a dental business wasn’t happening like she wanted it to.

Dr. Ashly Cothern - Our parents don’t have a business background, so they didn’t pass that kind of gift to either of us. We’re not big spenders, but happen to have four children and it’s expensive raising them. We were looking for some guidance, and we are good listeners, we can follow sound financial advice well, but we just didn’t have that.

Now that we have found Four Quadrants, miraculous things have happened. We’ve been able to save money like we never had before. It’s not really rocket science; it’s just these guys laying out the plan and us listening and doing what they say. We’ve just been trucking along, and the money has increased in our checking and savings accounts.

Give us an example of what has changed in the three years you’ve been a client here?

Dr. Ashly Cothern - Peace of mind.

Mike Cothern - I thought it was my turn? (laughs)

Dr. Ashly Cothern - Sorry! (laughs)

Mike Cothern - I’ve got to come up with a new one now.

Dr. Ashly Cothern - (laughs) We both have peace of mind! So peace of mind and the ability to sleep well at night knowing that we trust these guys. They’re not only super nice guys, but we trust in what they do because they’re really good at what they do. Our life has changed by having the retirement savings and just having the peace of mind.

Mike Cothern - Peace of mind was the first thing I was going to say in response to your question, but since she used that (laughing) . . . I’m a lot more optimistic about our future. We wanted a big family, but with a big family comes big expenses. After you raise them and get them through college, then you have to consider retirement. We don’t have a big trust fund waiting for us when we turn a certain age. Plus, we were still paying for Ashly’s student loans.

I’m a lot more optimistic that we’re going to retire at some point and enjoy that retirement because — based on what we were doing prior to meeting with Four Quadrants — it was not a lot. We had $15,000 in savings accounts, and 529s for the kids, and their college was not for certain.

Let’s move from the past to present. What was the best news you received in the meeting today?

Dr. Ashly Cothern - I just love hearing the cumulative amount that we’ve saved to date. To have saved $140,000 in three years. That’s pretty exciting for us and gives us the motivation to keep trucking along and to keep listening to their advice. The most exciting thing was hearing that number and knowing that will be waiting for us in the future.

Mike Cothern - I think understanding that the plan we set in place three years ago when we met with them for the first time is working. I was really pessimistic because of us getting hurt in the past. As I said before, other financial firms, we had met with over-promised and under-delivered multiple times.

Four Quadrants told us how things were going to work from the beginning. In the first year, things got better, and their plan actually worked. And, in the second year, it was working better.

Four Quadrants also became a sounding board; somebody to say “yes” or “no” when we have questions like needing new equipment or a new cabinet. When we come to them for advice, we have the confidence that they have our best interests at heart and that the plan is actually working.

One thing that’s tied all the performance is that your income has exploded over the last three years, right?

Mike Cothern - When Four Quadrants said they were going to double Ashly’s income, that’s when I said “OK. These guys might be snake oil salesmen.”

Dr. Ashly Cothern - But we saved in the last three years $140,000. If you go back and look: $140,000 was my entire annual income in the year we came here. So in three years, we’ve already saved an amount equal to my entire annual income the year we started working with Four Quadrants.

And it got better, since that time my income is now double what my take- home was three years ago.

Dr. Ashly Cothern - When we came to this meeting today we were excited and surprised to find that over the last three years since we’ve been with Four Quadrants, we’ve saved $140,000, and that’s equivalent to my annual salary the first year that we came here. So that was pretty impressive and encouraging for us.

Mike Cothern - And the projections are for us to be saving in one year what she was making in that first year we started working with you.

Dr. Ashly Cothern - For a mom of four we’re doing that while only seeing patients three days a week. That’s pretty fantastic and pretty exciting because again I’m passionate about dentistry, I love what I’m doing, but at some point you want that hard work to pay off, and it appears that it is.

Mike Cothern - I remember the first meeting and what I said to Four Quadrants when they began making all these promises: “I like what you’re saying, but I don’t want the result to mean she’s going to have to work twice as hard. You need to say she has the potential to make this much without working any harder.”

And it’s worked.

What accomplishment are you most proud of in the time you’ve been with us?

Dr. Ashly Cothern - I am most proud of not only our savings but having a team to be a sounding board and to process some financial decisions. I’m really excited about that, and I’m proud that we’re following through with that plan and that it’s working.

Is there a challenge we were able to solve that you wouldn’t have been able to without our help?

Dr. Ashly Cothern - I had to be out of the office to have a surgery that was unexpected, so certainly income went down, production took a dip. During that time Four Quadrants helped us plan and come up with a master plan of how we can continue moving forward increasing production.

There have been a few times that, for whatever reason, patient flow was slow. Production was slow. I had to call Four Quadrants holding up a white flag and ask “What do we need to do?” They would quickly come back and tweak and rearrange the plan to get us back on track, and it’s worked every time. And again it’s that peace of mind of them having our back, knowing that this may be a challenging time, but we’ll get out of it by planning and moving forward.

Mike Cothern - I think the trust factor is there too because they’ve promised and delivered. If they had just promised, we probably wouldn’t be here. The fact that year after year what they project actually happens. When stormy seas hit the ship, we have somebody to call and kind of guide us through that.

Dr. Ashly Cothern - It’s the little things as well. We’ve called Four Quadrants on a weekend saying, “We want to buy this house, what do you think?” And they’ll say “Absolutely not,” (laughs) or if it’s a trip that’s coming up, or the children’s select soccer program that’s thousands of dollars . . . We ask them “How do we pay for that? What is the wisest methodology of moving forward with that?”

It’s not only the business but business and personal. It’s not only the big stuff but the little stuff too.

What advice would you give to someone considering working with Four Quadrants?

Dr. Ashly Cothern - Call them today. Get the conversations going. I turned 40 this year, and I’m sad I didn’t do this five years before now. But my advice to anybody in Dallas or throughout the country is to call today get a relationship going today. Have a conversation with them today because it works.

Mike, as a police officer you know what kind of questions to ask to get to the truth of the matter. What kind of advice would you give someone who might be skeptical that we can’t back up what we say?

Mike Cothern - We’re going to sound like paid actors here when we say this, but we’re not getting paid to sit here and promote this. But the one caveat is we’re coachable. I know there are people out there who don’t want to turn over control of their finances or even expose them, so you have to be willing to take the help that is given. You’ve got to be willing to trust them enough to lean on them every time a big decision comes up.

I think the dream home was a good example. We fell in love with a house on a street we always wanted to be on, but the price was just too much. We were at a time when we were not in the position to do it. They said “no.” They explained to us how, in the future, we should be in the position to do something like that. That probably saved us a lot of years of worry.

Dr. Ashly Cothern - That is what they are so good at, taking the emotion out of some of these decisions that we can get so wrapped up in. These guys stop and evaluate with our best interests in mind but without the emotion. And that’s what were looking to them for.

Mike Cothern - And to know that the projections for improvement are there and not just smoke and mirrors. I don’t think there’s been a goal that they’ve set down on paper over the last few years that we haven’t met.

You’ve got be coachable, you’ve got be humble, and you’ve be patient. Easy to say, hard to do, but when you see that it’s working, it’s all worth it.