Are You Prepared for Your Financial Future?

Posted on October 17, 2017 by Shawn Friday, MEd, LPC, CEAP

Updated April 22, 2020

Finances_calculator-money-piggy-bankWhy Physicians and Providers Need a Financial Advisor

Are you concerned about being prepared for retirement? Or if you are early in your career, maybe retirement isn’t even on the radar screen yet; but paying student loans, raising families and running a practice are up close and personal. Surveys tell us a majority of physicians and providers do have some concern(s) about their financial well being¹. They also tend to have little time to educate themselves and address those concerns. Increased regulation and reduced reimbursements contribute to more pressures which may squeeze out paying as much attention to areas like estate planning, asset protection, insurance, debt management, and so on². This is where professional financial advice comes in.

When planning for the future, it is recommended physicians and providers work with a professional financial advisor, but not just anyone.3

According to former internal medicine physician, Joel Greenwald, MD, CFP, some of those physicians who are not concerned about finances are overconfident and should be taking action and making plans for their financial future³. Greenwald, a Certified Financial Planner, has worked with physicians and dentists the past 16 years. Not surprisingly, he and others providing financial advice recommend working with a professional; but not just anyone.

Financial advice provided by someone who can address the unique needs of a physician or provider. These include four primary areas which differ from the average American4. First, physician training is very lengthy, therefore significant earnings are not seen as quickly as with other types of work. This means a shorter time frame in which to amass necessary retirement savings. Second is investment complexity. With higher income and assets, more complex strategies are typically needed. Third is asset protection. Professional liability and other risks need to be addressed; and lastly, societal pressures and delaying gratification during training may lead to overspending. A financial advisor can help look at a realistic budget related to financial goals.

Tips on Finding the Right Financial Advisor

Robin Robertson, a senior wealth advisor with over 30 years’ experience and specializing with physician clients provides tips to finding a financial advisor who can appreciate and help with the challenges specific to the physician5.

  • Ask other people whom they use. A friend, colleague, or referral source (e.g. AMA Insurance) may be able to provide good options.
  • Be sure the professional can address multiple areas of concern, not just money management. Areas like risk analysis or how to approach debt (e.g. do I pay my student loans off before saving for retirement or kids’ college?).
  • Be certain the professional understands the level of need in important areas. For example, Robertson states, “A physician needs the Cadillac of disability policies”.

Additional recommendations to consider:6

  1. Seek to interview more than one financial advisor. Shop around.
  2. Look for Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a PFS (Personal Financial Specialist) designation.
  3. Ensure the prospective advisor is open about fee structure. How are they paid?
  4. Find an advisor who is a fiduciary, meaning they are legally obligated to act in your best financial interest. If not a fiduciary, see if they will sign a fiduciary pledge, which can be found online.
  5. See what their experience is with physicians. Do they understand the challenges unique to this population?

Even when working with a financial advisor, it pays to increase your own knowledge of finances7. Having an understanding of where you are financially, what you are investing in, how you are protected, and so on, will make you a better client and help get rid of some of the stress and worry which may accompany these concerns. The following resources provide a quick way to begin enhancing your knowledge and addressing your financial future.

We Can Help

Are you struggling to address areas of financial well being? We are available to help anytime, day or night. As part of the Physician Well Being Resources program and Employee Assistance Program (EAP) from VITAL WorkLife, members have access to telephonic discussions with financial consultants who can provide solid advice on developing a financial plan to achieve defined goals. Financial consultants are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm local time (within the continental US). If, after speaking with a financial consultant, issue resolution requires additional preparation, planning, or more specialized financial assistance, the financial consultant will assist with a referral. There is no limit to the length of the consultation or restrictions on repeated use of the service.

If you are a member of one of our solutions, give us a call to speak with a representative; we’re available anytime, day or night.

  • EAP members: call 800.383.1908
  • Physician and Provider Well Being Resources members: call 877.731.3949

For more information about our comprehensive suite of well being solutions, call 800.383.1908.

Additional Resources



12016 report on US physicians' financial preparedness. AMA Insurance.
2, 4 Rose R. Reimbursement and financial planning for physicians. Physicians Practice. Published August 25, 2017.
3, 6, 7 Hurt J. How physicians can choose the right financial adviser. Medical Economics. Published December 7, 2016.
5 5 ways to partner with a physician-friendly financial advisor. AMA Wire. Published October 20, 2016.

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