The health care field is very much a business in its own right. As a result there are still concerns for things like revenue stream and profitability. Whereas many Fortune 500 companies have specially trained financial strategists, not all physicians are as economically competent. CNN reported that many doctors have issues handling their personal and professional finances; one medical school graduate bought a $60,000 car before landing his first job.
As such, it's important that doctors try and take a more active role with their finances. Doing so will not only help increase the efficiency of their practice, but will also set themselves up for a more prosperous retirement.
Hire a financial adviser
As noted above, many doctors seem to have issues properly managing their finances. Because of that, it might be a good idea to look into hiring a financial adviser. Medical Economics has a list of 150 such planners, all of whom specialize in assisting physicians and other health care professionals. MarketWatch explained that before you bring anyone on board full-time, it's important that you ask a series of important questions, including:
- What's your background and where did you attend college?
- What's your stance on fiduciary responsibility?
- What are the exact services you offer?
- What's your overall investment strategy?
- How available are you for ongoing chats and consultations?
If you're still confused about what kind of adviser to hire, you can always ask a colleague for recommendations.
Maintain student loan debt
According to Larson Financial, most physicians have trouble meeting their mid-life financial demands. Given the duration and expense of medical schools, many doctors are saddled with sizable student loan debt – up to $170,000, Bloomberg reported. Additionally, many physicians are paying off these debts while making up for an earning-time gap that's noticeably larger than other industries.
So, what can a physician do to deal with student loan debt before it becomes problematic? One of the more direct ways is to refinance your loans. With the interest rate of student loans as high as 9 percent, even a drop of a few percentage points can save thousands of dollars during the length of the loan. There are also programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness, or PSLF. This organization recruits doctors to work in underserved regions and then forgives their loans after they've served for 10 years. The most important advice, though, is to always pay your debts, as an increasing number of doctors have defaulted on their loans, according to Money Talks. Negligence can seriously damage your credit rating.
Build up your savings
Not only are doctors having to contend with student loan debt, but many physicians are experiencing an accompanying reduction in salary. According to a report from NerdWallet, nearly 28 percent of doctors experienced a noticeable pay cut in 2013. Physicians still earn a sizable income – in the six figures depending upon most specialties – yet these cuts reduce the amount of money doctors can save for retirement.
According to White Coat Investors, not enough doctors know how to properly save. Many physicians lack either the self discipline or financial savviness required to develop their nest egg. The best advice? Start saving up as soon as possible. The more time your money has to collect interest, the more you'll end up having. WCI noted a doctor who saved only $50,000 for the first 15 years of his or her career. After investing that amount for another 25 years, he or she had saved over $2.86 million. Even 15 to 20 percent of your annual income, spread out over 30 years, can be enough to have a sizable sum for your post-retirement years.
Develop an investment style
How you operate in the investment market can have a huge impact on your overall success. On the one hand, it's important to work with a financial adviser. These individuals can help explain the layout of the current marketplace and when it's time to make certain financial moves. However, Forbes noted that doctors should be more aggressive in how they approach expanding their 401(k). Why? Doctors have steady, high-paid work, and that allows them to take certain risks.
A study by Fidelity found that younger doctors aren't placing enough equity into their retirement portfolios. Instead, they're only switching these ratios by the time they hit their early 60s, when it's often too late to accumulate a worthwhile retirement fund. While it's important to always be sensible – this is your future after all – doctors are in a place to develop their 401(k) without impacting their day-to-day expenses.