Financial safeguards for busy doctors

Published on: 
Medical Economics Journal, January 10, 2020 edition, Volume 97, Issue 1

Like caring for your patients’ physical health, the first step in managing your own financial health is gathering data and creating your roadmap for success.

Doctors are unique. You’ve spent years in undergrad school, medical school, and residency. Now, you are responsible for managing the health of your patients. Between clinical and administrative duties, coordinating with other physicians, and keeping up with medical research and advances, you’re wearing a lot of hats. So many, that it may become easy to overlook your own financial health. 

Like caring for your patients’ physical health, the first step in managing your own financial health is gathering data and creating your roadmap for success, and then make sure you are hitting your goals.

It’s important to review your financial plan regularly-or immediately in the wake of a significant life event such as marriage, birth of a child, a health event, death of a family member, divorce, or changes in your practice.
Once each year, review your roadmap, including:

Investment Planning: Make sure your asset allocation is still appropriate given your risk tolerance and goals and rebalance or change your portfolio if necessary.

Retirement Planning: The retirement landscape is changing. Americans are living longer, which means they will require a larger pool of assets to support themselves during the 20 or 30 years of retirement. Use a retirement planning tool or meet with your advisor to be sure you are on track.
Insurance Planning: Review existing coverages and identify any uncovered risks, including health, disability, life, personal liability, business insurance, and long term care insurance.

Estate Planning: It is critical to have a plan in place so that you have control over how your assets are distributed at your death and who is given authority to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity. By planning ahead, you can also reduce taxes on what you leave behind and minimize the chances of unpleasant and costly family legal battles. Once your plan is developed, it is important to regularly review beneficiaries, trustees, health care representatives, and guardians.

Tax Planning: It is important to ensure your tax plan is coordinated with your investment and estate plans.

Lifestyle Planning: Revisit your goals for your housing, activities, and business including succession planning and multi-generational planning.
As your life and practice evolve, you will encounter issues that call for specific financial actions. Some of the most common topics include planning for long-term care, housing needs, and multi-generational financial planning.

Paving a path to financial security requires time and effort-two commodities in short supply for busy physicians. But making smart decisions can add up to 3 percent to a portfolio’s return. This could add many to the longevity of your portfolio and set you up for long-term success. Starting early is ideal, but it is never too late to begin.