Recently, I read a 48-page report issued by AMA Insurance on financial preparedness among physicians, based on 2,500 respondents. Consensus: Many doctors feel they are under-planned and undereducated about personal finance issues. The good news? We’ve already covered and continue to address many of these issues for you here and at www.PhysiciansPractice.com, where this article originally appeared.
I didn’t find the results of the well-documented report particularly surprising based on my personal experience with a wide variety of doctors across the country. However, the report did help narrow down some of the areas to visit in greater detail going forward. The one constructive criticism I’d offer is that the report did not disclose any interest in or questions about asset-protection planning. As this column is primarily about physicians’ asset-protection and wealth-preservation planning you may assume some bias toward the topic by the author but two key facts remain: First, most polls show this is an area of significant concern and real exposure to doctors. Second, financial planning is moot if the assets get taken away from you. The key findings of the report identified several key concerns:
• Half of physicians surveyed feel they are behind where they should be in their retirement planning while only six percent feel they are ahead of their savings plan;
• Many doctors lack confidence in their education and decisions on key planning issues like estate planning, life insurance, disability planning, and retirement planning;
• Many female doctors feel they are behind their male counterparts in these areas;
• All are concerned about their future and the adequacy of their retirement savings.
We will soon address these issues again and, in turn, will feature discussions with experts in areas like the use of 401K and self-directed IRA plans. We’ll also focus on financial behavior patterns from the perspective of advisors who work with a heavily female professional client base. Until then, here’s a quick look back at just a few of the ideas we’ve introduced for your further discovery.
Estate Planning and Life Insurance
We’ve covered a variety of estate-planning-related topics and taken a look at common estate planning mistakes made by doctors; we’ve also published a multi-part article series on specific tools like limited partnerships (a.k.a. family limited partnerships) and asset protection trusts. On a related note we also addressed issues like the tactical use of life insurance and took a look at ways to help determine how much life insurance your family needs.
Investing and Retirement Planning
Our most recent of nearly one dozen columns in these areas have covered issues like the liability associated with administering a 401K plan for your practice as well as common issues related to investment fraud targeting doctors. We’ve also covered due diligence issues in dealing with an investment advisors. Of course, inherent to any such discussion must be a good look at tax planning by doctors and we’ve addressed issues like the right corporate formation, tax fraud targeting doctors, and even provided a basic two-part checklist of legal and financial essentials that we will soon be updating for 2013.
My goal in our discussions has been to share information on issues that I’ve personally seen doctors affected by and to provide a simple introduction to the options available to proactively address them. We will continue to do so throughout the year and I welcome your direct questions or suggestions for coverage on areas of specific concern to you. Finally, if you are heading out on vacation over the next few weeks along with the rest of the country, please take a second look at our personal security tips. We want you safely back with us to continue the journey.