Doctors face a unique set of financial challenges and opportunities. And a financial advisor with a specialized understanding of those factors can help doctors navigate those uncommon circumstances.
Just as you wouldn't go to an orthopedist to help with an earache, experts say, you shouldn't work with a financial advisor who isn't familiar with the intricacies of a doctor's lifestyle.
"A financial advisor should serve as a guide, someone who understands your unique situation and can help you plan for your future," says Julia Bartak, an Edward Jones financial advisor in the Kansas City area. "That means they should understand the nuances of working in the medical field, such as running a medical practice, insurance, retirement options and more."
Here is how to find and choose a financial advisor for doctors.
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How to Find a Financial Advisor for Doctors
One way to find a financial advisor who specializes in helping doctors is by word of mouth. Ask other physicians in your area for recommendations and their thoughts on their relationship with the advisor.
"If you belong to a hospital group, you could check with your (human resources) department to see if they would be able to recommend someone," says Hagen Pruemm, an investment advisor and president of SIS Financial Group in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
U.S. News' Financial Advisor Finder profiles thousands of advisors and includes information on specialties and experience.
And there's always Google: A simple internet search for "financial advisor for doctors near me" can yield a wealth of results. Then look at the advisor's website to see if he or she addresses doctors specifically.
You can also refer to websites that provide educational financial content for doctors, such as The White Coat Investor and Physician on Fire, which refers to the acronym for "financial independence, retire early." Just make sure you do your own due diligence before choosing an advisor highlighted on such a website.
Check the advisor's credentials on BrokerCheck.finra.org or AdviserInfo.sec.gov, two free tools where you can review an advisor's background, experience and disciplinary actions.
If you know you want to work with a specific type of advisor, such as a certified financial planner, you can also check the credential provider's website for a list of local certified advisors.
What to Look For in a Financial Advisor for Doctors
"Doctors can definitely benefit from the help of a financial advisor that understands their individual or specific situation," Pruemm says. "Most physicians will eventually find themselves amongst the top earners, but years of medical school and residency can cause them to start out with much greater debt than most Americans."
A financial advisor who has experience working with medical professionals will be better equipped to help you develop a plan that addresses these unique concerns, he says.
"Oftentimes, doctors work well into their 60s or 70s, so one of the greatest financial threats would be premature death or disability resulting in years, or even decades, of income loss," Pruemm says. "With what seems like endless options for life and disability insurance, having a financial advisor that also specializes in that area would be very helpful."
Bartak says an advisor may partner with an insurance specialist to help you choose the right insurance coverage. Similarly, the advisor may also work in tandem with your tax accountant to ensure you're maximizing tax-advantaged income.
Some financial planning firms include insurance and tax specialists under the same roof, while others may partner with outside firms.
If you own a practice, a financial advisor can help you establish a proper and thoughtful succession plan, Bartak says.
"As a doctor, you know the importance of a regular check-up and listening to your patients," Bartak says. You should expect the same from your financial advisor.
"Your financial advisor should ask you about your goals, hopes, dreams and fears, and help you put a financial strategy in place to achieve what matters most to you," she says. The advisor will check in with you regularly to ensure you're still on track to meet your goals.
"Above all, a financial advisor should serve you in a way that's human-centered – not unlike the way a doctor treats a patient," Bartak says.
Financial Advisors for Doctors
Here are some financial advisors who specialize in helping doctors.
Remember: It's important to vet a financial advisor, review his or her credentials and ask the right questions before engaging in an advising relationship.
- Aptus Financial: a flat-fee financial planning and investment firm that focuses on early- and mid-career physicians.
- Wrenne Financial Planning: a fee-only comprehensive financial planning firm for physicians.
- Panoramic Financial Advice: a comprehensive financial planning practice with advisors who work specifically with young physicians.
- Financial Rounds: a site dedicated to helping doctors make financial decisions with ongoing financial planning and investment management.
- CMG Financial Consulting: a fee-only financial planning firm that works primarily with physicians and medical professionals.
- Physician Family Financial Advisors: a fee-only financial planning firm for doctors and their families.
- Pulse Financial Planning: a fiduciary financial planning firm that specializes in helping health care professionals.
- WealthCare LLC: a fiduciary, fee-only financial planning and investment management firm specializing in physicians and other health care professionals.