Health professionals devote their careers to improving their patients’ lives, so why don’t they afford as much attention to their own futures? KAREN CROUCH explains the benefits of planning ahead.
As COVID-19 management improves and green shoots of confidence emerge, it’s worth considering going ‘back to the future’. I’m referring to a time when you could formulate a serious plan for the long- term when business/environmental conditions were more predictable.
When practitioners focus on their careers that make a huge difference to peoples’ lives, it is easy to defer financial affairs or retirement plans. After all, isn’t patient care the core objective of many years of training and education?
Protecting your future hardly compares to the task of providing someone good health. But inevitably you may want to stop working, or work less, and spend more time pursuing other activities that require accumulated funds.
Estate planning, making a will or ensuring dependents are catered for are often deferred in favour of pressing career matters. It’s important to give priority to the development of a comprehensive ‘financial care plan’ for yourself, just as you execute a ‘healthcare plan’ for patients.
Issues at hand
The main challenge is invariably paucity of time. Managing a practice must get priority. So finding adequate time after daily paperwork for the practice, patients, suppliers and staff, can be daunting. Learning and understanding personal finance and investment options are often relegated to the “later” tray.
Before developing a plan, beware of the following:
Now vs future: Assuming that a successful practice will automatically grow personal finances often results in complacency and unwillingness to heed expert advice. A smarter strategy is to invest some practice income to help you become independent of your business and assure a planned retirement lifestyle.
Greed: Individuals generally make financial decisions on emotion/impulse. Sure-fire investment tips at BBQs can result in negative investments that are not adequately understood.
Fear: Alternatively, fear of losing money may result in safer, low return investments that overlook longer term opportunities.
Impatience: Some expect quick results and if they do not perform, they sell/ switch. Creating wealth takes time. Of course, some lucky ones made a bundle by selling before the financial crash, but inexperienced investors often pile into trendy investments and hold them too long.
Future options: As retirement approaches, you may consider winding down your practice/employment. For example, some specialists may no longer perform surgery, reducing earnings and savings to retire on. By building assets outside your practice, you can ensure your retirement plan is on track.
Seeing the light
Acknowledging the importance of a financial strategy for the future is fine, but taking action is where the true challenge lies. But by putting in the hard work now, a strategy will be established so you can focus on healthcare. Then you can rest easy knowing your future is in good shape.
When you realise you are working to satisfy your current lifestyle needs, you will regret not having considered retirement and practice/employment exit plans earlier, so you can ultimately decide when to stop working, or reduce your load.
In the table above you can find a comparison of attributes between smart and late planners. Which one are you? Do you think it’s time to start considering your financial future now?
Common statements from those who fail to plan include; I don’t have time. I have a practice to run; when I retire, I’ll sort out my finances then; I don’t know how much I’ve saved or my worth, but I think I’m fine.
For those considering a more concrete future, the basic elements of a comprehensive plan include seeking help, analysis and objective setting, a savings plan, estate/succession planning, insurance, retirement planning, wealth management and review and oversight.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karen Crouch is Managing Director of Health Practice Creations Group, a company that assists with practice set ups, administrative, legal and financial management of practices. Contact: email@example.com or www.hpcgroup.com.au.