Tips for docs to get ahead on retirement savings


Saving enough money to retire tops the list of physicians’ financial concerns, but almost 40 percent consider themselves behind the curve on their savings, according to a new survey.

AMA Insurance polled practicing physicians in the United States on their financial preparedness via a survey encompassing 2,331 individuals of diverse ages, specialties and practice environment.

The good news: according to AMA’s announcement accompanying the survey results, factors such as age, employment situation, gender and specialty have no bearing on a physician’s ability to be financially prepared for retirement.

The bad news: even though the number of doctors who consider themselves “ahead of schedule” on saving for retirement nearly doubled between 2013 and 2016, only 11 percent of those surveyed consider themselves to be in that situation.

The survey found that physicians of all ages are primarily concerned with saving enough for retirement. Long-term care and college for children play major roles depending on age.

AMA found salient traits among the doctors who consider themselves ahead of schedule in their preparations for retirement to be “more attitudinal and behavioral in nature, rather than simple demographics.” The results suggest a set of common characteristics that set these doctors apart:

  • Physicians who were ahead of the curve tended to be more knowledgeable about personal finance than those who felt behind, raising their confidence level as they make financial decisions.
  • Doctors in the “ahead” group were twice as likely to max out their qualified retirement plan contributions and have elements of an estate plan in place than other physicians.
  • Those ahead on retirement planning carry less debt overall than their peers who fell behind the curve. This shows up starkly among doctors in their 30s, 81 percent of whom reported they still have student loan debt to pay off.
  • Physicians who have had success saving for retirement aim to enjoy it, according to the survey, with 34 percent of those considering themselves “ahead” planning to retire before age 65.