Study: Women Physicians Focused on Retirement Planning

A new survey finds a majority of women are meeting their retirement planning goals, yet 75% say they don't feel fully confident about their financial acumen.

Today’s women physicians have scant time when it comes to personal financial planning, with 71% serving as the breadwinners for their families, according to a new survey.

Proper retirement preparation remains the leading concern among this segment of professional women, who tend to view the managing of financial issues to be more complex than that of their peers in other professions.

Those are the findings of a new national study by AMA Insurance Agency Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Medical Association. The AMA’s study, titled the 2015 Report on U.S. Physicians’ Financial Preparedness: Women Physicians Segment, assessed the results of 3 national surveys that polled 3,077 women physicians on personal finance goals, retirement readiness, financial acumen, family situations, career planning, and related topics.

Women physicians believe they’re less financially savvy than peers in other professions, work in an environment that carries significant liability risks, carry substantial debt from medical school, and have little time to devote towards adequate financial planning. Yet, 50% of AMA’s respondents handle their family’s financial planning, and 67% of the polled women are married. The AMA Insurance data also found 43% of the doctors are working mothers that have children under the age of 18.

Some two-thirds, 62%, felt they spent an inadequate amount of time on personal finance, while 27% indicated that family financial planning wasn’t an area of expertise. As it pertains to the latter, 58% said that they worked with a professional financial advisor to assist with finance and retirement planning matters; a surprising 88% of those that use financial planners were confident that their advisor understood MD’s “somewhat” or “very well”.

The survey found 75% of female physicians didn’t feel fully confident about their financial acumen, feeling “somewhat” or “not very knowledgeable” about personal financial planning. Yet, 65% have managed to set up a fund to be used exclusively for emergency needs (55% have saved less than $50,000 in such a fund). Additionally, a majority of women physicians, 53%, are meeting or exceeding their financial planning objectives for their post-work lives, with 48% having set aside at least $500,000 for retirement, followed by 25% with more than $1 million in retirement savings, and 4% with $3 million in savings.

As Denise S. Friday, CLU, and a vice president at AMA Insurance noted: “There is good news on many fronts such as saving for retirement, but it’s still important for them to look at ways to achieve personal financial security.”

Indeed. The study, the details of which can be viewed here, found that 47% of women physicians think they lag “behind where they’d like to be” in managing financial planning. And while nearly half of respondents had saved half a million dollars, 22% have saved less than $100,000 for retirement. Interestingly, when it came to the issue of family savings being passed down, 57% said that receiving an inheritance was “very unlikely,” 19% said “somewhat likely,” and 10% said “very likely.”

Overall, the study concludes that women physicians in general are headed in the right direction when it comes to financial planning. Over half are spending “adequate” time on handling their personal finance issues and share a common goal: “secure retirement.”