We choose to start working with physicians when they are in the first 5 years of their medical career because we feel we can have the biggest long-term effect on their financial health if we start working with them early on.
There is no one prescription for every scenario, and young physicians often feel bogged down by all of the decisions they have to make after finishing medical school. Physicians, more than most other professionals, have enormous time constraints they must work within. This makes it difficult for them to prioritize finances over other more important things such as family, work, or community involvement. Often, even if they would like to focus on getting their finances in order, the process seems overwhelming and their lack of knowledge about financial matters makes the process of getting organized very stressful.
We interviewed some experienced physicians and their advisors and they identified the following 5 steps that will help you achieve the most amount of success in your career as a physician.
1. Find the right expert team
The first step in ensuring that you have a long-term plan for success is finding the right expert team. As a physician, you face specific challenges other professionals do not, and you need a team that is familiar with their unique financial needs. When you are choosing your expert team, you should be looking for advisors who have specific experience working with doctors. You should also be wary of large organizations where the advisor is an employee and not a partner as the level of turn-over in this style of corporation tends to be very high. You want to ensure that the person you choose as your advisor will be able to personally assist you in achieving your long-term goals or at least have a very good succession plan in place to ensure you are not negatively affected in the future if your advisor retires.
2. Have a Written Plan (and review it frequently with your expert team)
Most physicians without an expert team don’t have a formal written financial plan. A plan is not only important for mapping out how much you need to save now in order to retire when you want, with the necessary cash you need to do so. A written plan is important because no matter what changes happen over your life time, you can always go back to the plan and review and revise it to fit the various things that may come up. For example, you may not anticipate purchasing real estate in the near future, but if an opportunity arises sooner than you had planned, your expert team can refer back to your plan and determine strategies for restructuring it so that you can stay on track in the long-term if you decide to make a big purchase.
The more you save now when you are young, healthy and motivated to work, the better a position you will be in later to work less and eventually retire when you choose to. This may seem like common sense, but it’s something most physicians need to focus more on if they want to achieve their long-term financial goals. If paying down debt is also a priority for you, ensure you build this in to your savings plan and discuss it with your expert team.
4. Live Within Your Means
It’s exciting to graduate and finally start making money after being in school for so long. You have sacrificed a lot more time, money and energy for your career than most people do over their lifetimes, and you deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Just keep in mind that large decisions like purchasing real estate, vehicles or luxury vacations should not be made in isolation. Our average client can afford to have all of the things they desire as long as they are reasonable in their expectations and understand how those purchases factor in to their long-term plan.
5. Make time for family and for yourself
To say your schedule as a physician is demanding would be a gross understatement. Your work is important and your patients’ lives and well-being are at the top of your list of priorities. But most of our interviewees identified this as an issue when it came to spending time with their families or doing things they enjoyed outside of work. Make sure you make sufficient time for yourself and your family to recharge and disconnect. Spend more time doing these things now – you won’t be able to turn back the clock later on.
You deserve to have the life you have imagined. With the right team, plan and strategies in place, you can see your goals through to the end – just make sure to take a break here and there and enjoy the process!