Striking the Right Balance: Financial Independence for Physicians

We all dream of a time where we no longer need to work to make money. But for physicians, because of circumstances that are unique to the field of medicine, the path to financial freedom can sometimes feel more like a thicket than a glade. But with the right partner, making work optional for physicians is possible and sooner than they might have expected.

Unique Challenges

Busy physicians face a number of unique challenges when it comes to managing their finances in a way that will allow for financial independence.  While few people today escape university with no student loan debt, the average medical school graduate leaves with over $70,000. They may also accrue high-interest debt during this time such as credit card debt and other types of consumer debt like car loans, and even mortgage debt.

Physicians enter the workforce later than those in other professions which not only means that they start earning money later but also that they start investing later. They may also marry and start a family later than average and that means saving for children’s college education is delayed too. Because a physician’s money has less time to grow, they need a strategic plan that will allow them to make up for that lost time.

With all that to consider physicians must be careful that this need to catch up after entering the game late doesn’t conflict with one of the most important tenets of investing, limiting risk. It can be tempting to take a lot of risk in order to make up for the time lost but there are strategies that can help wealth grow quickly while still insulating it from unnecessary risk. Investments also can’t be too conservative, even in the build up to retirement and beyond because this can cause a shortfall in meeting financial goals and can also mean that a physician will outlive their money.  A good Wealth Manager can help a physician strike just the right balance between being too risky and too conservative when it comes to investing.


Many doctors have lived a very modest lifestyle while getting their education. When they finally start their career, they may decide to make up for all those years they spent scraping by! This is known as lifestyle inflation. Every upgrade in income brings with it an upgrade in lifestyle too. Sometimes a big upgrade. While we can understand wanting to live it up a little after so many years of hard work but you can’t let lifestyle inflation derail your plan for financial independence.

While new physicians can be burdened by heavy debt, they also have the power of tremendous earning potential which many new graduates don’t. But they need a plan to help leverage this earning power against their debt so they can achieve the lifestyle that they have been putting off during their education.

Not having a plan in place to optimize debt repayment and maximize savings can further delay financial independence. The right Wealth Manager can help devise a plan that will help physicians live the lifestyle they have had to put off while focusing on their education.

Lifestyle expectations can be another factor when it comes to achieving financial independence. Doctors are often expected by their friends, family, patients and colleagues to have a certain lifestyle; a big house in the suburbs, a new Mercedes in the driveway, membership at the local country club. Too often physicians can feel the pressure to live up to these expectations to the detriment of their financial health. A great book that illustrates this is The Millionaire Next Door which compares two doctors’ success and failure in building wealth and the common mistakes.

Striking the Right Balance

Achieving a healthy work/life balance is an important factor in the quality of life for all of us but it is especially important for a physician. Taking care of others can be physically and emotionally draining. The stress levels are high and if not managed in a healthy way, can lead to professional burn out.

Being a physician can sometimes feel like a 24/7 on-call business. Physicians want to take care of their patients of course, but they need to take care of themselves and their families at the same time.

Financial health and physical health are deeply intertwined. Financial worries are one of life’s biggest stressors and they can make us ill. By partnering with a professional dedicated to managing physician finances, that is a big source of stress and worry eliminated.

Expertise You Can Trust

If someone had a heart problem, they would see a specialist not a general practitioner. Financial planning is the same. Physicians need a specialist, dedicated to the unique niche they occupy.  There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to financial planning and that is doubly so for physicians.

They are busy caring for their patients, trying to stay up to date on what seems like constantly changing laws and regulations, and running a practice day to day. Amidst all of these responsibilities, looking after their own financial well-being can sometimes get pushed onto the back burner. Today’s practice environment is complex and always evolving. At ClearWealthMD we understand the dynamics of the health care market place. We can help physicians build, grow and protect their wealth through every stage of their life and career.

ClearWealthMD provides proven financial strategies tailored specifically for physicians. We will help navigate the challengers that are unique to the medical profession. What we provide is not just financial planning but life planning. Too many advisors focus solely on monetary goals. We focus on life goals and then make a financial plan that will help our clients achieve those goals. We get the right answers because we ask the right questions.

We spend time with our clients to understand what their goals are, we analyze their current financial picture, help devise a plan and implement it and regularly review and revise that plan when circumstances dictate. We partner with our clients to craft a blue print for each stage of their life and their career. We can help plan and implement short-term, mid-term, and long-range goals. We understand that our clients need to focus on their patients and their practices, not their finances.

Eventually all physicians start to think about wrapping up their practice and what will happen next. Too many physicians make the mistake of thinking they will practice well into their 70’ and even beyond. But after decades in practice, they may no longer want to do that and sadly, some physicians will not be physically able to do so.

The cash flow generated by their investments is what will fund their life during retirement and possibly the legacy they wish to leave for their family. We work to maximize this income so our clients can enjoy the retirement they’ve always dreamed of. We will make sure the transition from working to retirement is financially seamless.

Financial planning doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. By partnering with ClearWealthMD, you can be sure it’s neither.

About the Author

Glenn Ayrton is a partner at ClearWealth, a wealth management firm in Vancouver.  Glenn helps specialist physicians make the most financially out of the educational investment they have made in themselves so that they can make work optional as soon as possible. He holds CLU, ChFC & CFP designations and has been recognized as 1 of the top 1000 financial advisors worldwide.