FINANCIAL PLANNING: Strategies for Doctors and their Advisors




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Written by doctors and healthcare professionals, this textbook should be mandatory reading for all medical school students—highly recommended for both young and veteran physicians—and an eliminating factor for any financial advisor who has not read it. The book uses jargon like ‘innovative,’ ‘transformational,’ and ‘disruptive’—all rightly so! It is the type of definitive financial lifestyle planning book we often seek, but seldom find.
LeRoy Howard MA CMPTM,Candidate and Financial Advisor, Fayetteville, North Carolina

I taught diagnostic radiology for over a decade. The physician-focused niche information, balanced perspectives, and insider industry transparency in this book may help save your financial life.
Dr. William P. Scherer MS, Barry University, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

This book was crafted in response to the frustration felt by doctors who dealt with top financial, brokerage, and accounting firms. These non-fiduciary behemoths often prescribed costly wholesale solutions that were applicable to all, but customized for few, despite ever-changing needs. It is a must-read to learn why brokerage sales pitches or Internet resources will never replace the knowledge and deep advice of a physician-focused financial advisor, medical consultant, or collegial Certified Medical Planner™ financial professional.
—Parin Khotari MBA,Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University, New York

In today’s healthcare environment, in order for providers to survive, they need to understand their current and future market trends, finances, operations, and impact of federal and state regulations. As a healthcare consulting professional for over 30 years supporting both the private and public sector, I recommend that providers understand and utilize the wealth of knowledge that is being conveyed in these chapters. Without this guidance providers will have a hard time navigating the supporting system which may impact their future revenue stream. I strongly endorse the contents of this book.
—Carol S. Miller BSN MBA PMP,President, Miller Consulting Group, ACT IAC Executive Committee Vice-Chair at-Large, HIMSS NCA Board Member

This is an excellent book on financial planning for physicians and health professionals. It is all inclusive yet very easy to read with much valuable information. And, I have been expanding my business knowledge with all of Dr. Marcinko’s prior books. I highly recommend this one, too. It is a fine educational tool for all doctors.
—Dr. David B. Lumsden MD MS MA,Orthopedic Surgeon, Baltimore, Maryland

There is no other comprehensive book like it to help doctors, nurses, and other medical providers accumulate and preserve the wealth that their years of education and hard work have earned them.
—Dr. Jason Dyken MD MBA,Dyken Wealth Strategies, Gulf Shores, Alabama

I plan to give a copy of this book written
by doctors and for doctors’ to all my prospects, physician, and nurse clients. It may be the definitive text on this important topic.
—Alexander Naruska CPA,Orlando, Florida

Health professionals are small business owners who need to apply their self-discipline tactics in establishing and operating successful practices. Talented trainees are leaving the medical profession because they fail to balance the cost of attendance against a realistic business and financial plan. Principles like budgeting, saving, and living below one’s means, in order to make future investments for future growth, asset protection, and retirement possible are often lacking. This textbook guides the medical professional in his/her financial planning life journey from start to finish. It ranks a place in all medical school libraries and on each of our bookshelves.
—Dr. Thomas M. DeLauro DPM,Professor and Chairman – Division of Medical Sciences, New York College of Podiatric Medicine

Physicians are notoriously excellent at diagnosing and treating medical conditions. However, they are also notoriously deficient in managing the business aspects of their medical practices. Most will earn $20-30 million in their medical lifetime, but few know how to create wealth for themselves and their families. This book will help fill the void in physicians’ financial education. I have two recommendations: 1) every physician, young and old, should read this book; and 2) read it a second time!
—Dr. Neil Baum MD,Clinical Associate Professor of Urology, Tulane Medical School, New Orleans, Louisiana

I worked with a Certified Medical Planner™ on several occasions in the past, and will do so again in the future. This book codified the vast body of knowledge that helped in all facets of my financial life and professional medical practice.
Dr. James E. Williams DABPS, Foot and Ankle Surgeon, Conyers, Georgia

This is a constantly changing field for rules, regulations, taxes, insurance, compliance, and investments. This book assists readers, and their financial advisors, in keeping up with what’s going on in the healthcare field that all doctors need to know.
Patricia Raskob CFP® EA ATA, Raskob Kambourian Financial Advisors, Tucson, Arizona

I particularly enjoyed reading the specific examples in this book which pointed out the perils of risk … something with which I am too familiar and have learned (the hard way) to avoid like the Black Death. It is a pleasure to come across this kind of wisdom, in print, that other colleagues may learn before it’s too late— many, many years down the road.
Dr. Robert S. Park MD, Robert Park and Associates Insurance, Seattle, Washington

Although this book targets physicians, I was pleased to see that it also addressed the financial planning and employment benefit needs of nurses; physical, respiratory, and occupational therapists; CRNAs, hospitalists, and other members of the health care team….highly readable, practical, and understandable.
Nurse Cecelia T. Perez RN, Hospital Operating Room Manager, Ellicott City, Maryland

Personal financial success in the PP-ACA era will be more difficult to achieve than ever before. It requires the next generation of doctors to rethink frugality, delay gratification, and redefine the very definition of success and work–life balance. And, they will surely need the subject matter medical specificity and new-wave professional guidance offered in this book. This book is a ‘must-read’ for all health care professionals, and their financial advisors, who wish to take an active role in creating a new subset of informed and pioneering professionals known as Certified Medical Planners™.
—Dr. Mark D. Dollard FACFAS, Private Practice, Tyson Corner, Virginia

As healthcare professionals, it is our Hippocratic duty to avoid preventable harm by paying attention. On the other hand, some of us are guilty of being reckless with our own financial health—delaying serious consideration of investments, taxation, retirement income, estate planning, and inheritances until the worry keeps one awake at night. So, if you have avoided planning for the future for far too long, perhaps it is time to take that first step toward preparedness. This in-depth textbook is an excellent starting point—not only because of its readability, but because of his team’s expertise and thoroughness in addressing the intricacies of modern investments—and from the point of view of not only gifted financial experts, but as healthcare providers, as well … a rare combination.
Dr. Darrell K. Pruitt DDS, Private Practice Dentist, Fort Worth, Texas

This text should be on the bookshelf of all contemporary physicians. The book is physician-focused with unique topics applicable to all medical professionals. But, it also offers helpful insights into the new tax and estate laws, fiduciary accountability for advisors and insurance agents, with investing, asset protection and risk management, and retirement planning strategies with updates for the brave new world of global payments of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Starting out by encouraging readers to examine their personal ‘money blueprint’ beliefs and habits, the book is divided into four sections offering holistic life cycle financial information and economic education directed to new, mid-career, and mature physicians.

This structure permits one to dip into the book based on personal need to find relief, rather than to overwhelm. Given the complexity of modern domestic healthcare, and the daunting challenges faced by physicians who try to stay abreast of clinical medicine and the ever-evolving laws of personal finance, this textbook could not have come at a better time.
—Dr. Philippa Kennealy MD MPH, The Entrepreneurial MD, Los Angeles, California

Physicians have economic concerns unmatched by any other profession, arriving ten years late to the start of their earning years. This textbook goes to the core of how to level the playing field quickly, and efficaciously, by a new breed of dedicated Certified Medical Planners™. With physician-focused financial advice, each chapter is a building block to your financial fortress.
Thomas McKeon, MBA, Pharmaceutical Representative, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

An excellent resource … this textbook is written in a manner that provides physician practice owners with a comprehensive guide to financial planning and related topics for their professional practice in a way that is easily comprehended. The style in which it breaks down the intricacies of the current physician practice landscape makes it a ‘must-read’ for those physicians (and their advisors) practicing in the volatile era of healthcare reform.
—Robert James Cimasi, MHA ASA FRICS MCBA CVA CM&AA CMP™, CEO-Health Capital Consultants, LLC, St. Louis, Missouri

Rarely can one find a full compendium of information within a single source or text, but this book communicates the new financial realities we are forced to confront; it is full of opportunities for minimizing tax liability and maximizing income potential. We’re recommending it to all our medical practice management clients across the entire healthcare spectrum.
Alan Guinn, The Guinn Consultancy Group, Inc., Cookeville, Tennessee

Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™ and his team take a seemingly endless stream of disparate concepts and integrate them into a simple, straightforward, and understandable path to success. And, he codifies them all into a step-by-step algorithm to more efficient investing, risk management, taxation, and enhanced retirement planning for doctors and nurses. His text is a vital read—and must execute—book for all healthcare professionals and physician-focused financial advisors.
Dr. O. Kent Mercado, JD, Private Practitioner and Attorney, Naperville, Illinois

Kudos. The editors and contributing authors have compiled the most comprehensive reference book for the medical community that has ever been attempted. As you review the chapters of interest and hone in on the most important concerns you may have, realize that the best minds have been harvested for you to plan well… Live well.
Martha J. Schilling; AAMS® CRPC® ETSC CSA, Shilling Group Advisors, LLC, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I recommend this book to any physician or medical professional that desires an honest no-sales approach to understanding the financial planning and investing world. It is worthwhile to any financial advisor interested in this space, as well.
David K. Luke, MIM MS-PFP CMP™, Net Worth Advisory Group, Sandy, Utah

Although not a substitute for a formal business education, this book will help physicians navigate effectively through the hurdles of day-to-day financial decisions with the help of an accountant, financial and legal advisor. I highly recommend it and commend Dr. Marcinko and the Institute of Medical Business Advisors, Inc. on a job well done.
Ken Yeung MBA CMP™, Tseung Kwan O Hospital, Hong Kong

I’ve seen many ghost-written handbooks, paperbacks, and vanity-published manuals on this topic throughout my career in mental healthcare. Most were poorly written, opinionated, and cheaply produced self-aggrandizing marketing drivel for those agents selling commission-based financial products and expensive advisory services. So, I was pleasantly surprised with this comprehensive peer-reviewed academic textbook, complete with citations, case examples, and real-life integrated strategies by and for medical professionals. Although a bit late for my career, I recommend it highly to all my younger colleagues … It’s credibility and specificity stand alone.
Dr. Clarice Montgomery PhD MA,Retired Clinical Psychologist

In an industry known for one-size-fits-all templates and massively customized books, products, advice, and services, the extreme healthcare specificity of this text is both refreshing and comprehensive.
Dr. James Joseph Bartley, Columbus, Georgia

My brother was my office administrator and accountant. We both feel this is the most comprehensive textbook available on financial planning for healthcare providers.
Dr. Anthony Robert Naruska DC,Winter Park, Florida

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SECOND OPINIONS: Physician Financial Planning, Investing, Medical Practice Management and Business Valuations; etc!



Financial Planning for Medical Professionals






Comprehensive Financial Planning and Risk Management Strategies for Doctors and their Advisors


Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners


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Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™



12 INVESTING MISTAKES of Physicians to Avoid in 2022


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By David Edward Marcinko, MBA, CMP®

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MEDICAL TREATMENT PLAN: A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and possible side effects, and the expected length of treatment.



Fees are down, expenses are up and the days of fat profit margins for physicians are over. Managed care in some form is here to stay. The tidal wave of baby boomers approaching retirement suggests the pendulum will not swing back to the “good old days” of fee-for-service medicine. Even the venture capitalists are laying off doctors because of the corona virus pandemic. And, the ACA and U.S. government, the payer for more than 50 percent of the covered population, continues to ratchet down reimbursement. Accordingly, many doctors are now working harder than ever. Unfortunately, they are also prone to irrational investing behavior and making more investment mistakes than ever before.

Here are the Institute of Medical Business Advisors’ “dirty dozen” investing blunders of physicians. Indeed, we see these common miscues among a variety of medical professionals.

Mistake 1: Having No Investment Policy Statement
Just as one would not think of treating a patient without a careful history and physical examination, you should not embark on investing your hard earned capital without an investment policy statement (IPS). This important document separates do-it-yourself investors, financial salesmen, stockbrokers and amateurs from true financial professionals.

An IPS is a document specifically detailing what you want your money to do for you with an understanding of who is to do what and how they are supposed to do it. It may be three to five pages long for an individual physician, 10 to 15 pages for a small medical group retirement plan or dozens of pages for a clinic or hospital endowment fund.

Treatment plan: A properly written IPS should contain the following:
• Statement of purpose
• Statement of responsibilities
• Investment goals and objectives
• Proxy voting policy
• Trading and execution guidelines
• Asset mix guidelines
• Social policies or other restrictions
• Portfolio limitations
• Performance review benchmarks
• Administration and fee policy
• Communication policy
• Reporting policy

Mistake 2: Not Diversifying Portfolio Objectives
Although the media frenzy of a few years ago has subsided, anecdotes of easy money still abound and doctors may forget that investment portfolios serve a specific purpose (e.g., retirement, college funding, etc.) within the content of a broader financial plan. Moreover, a single investment may become too large or too small a portion of the portfolio. This may be due to market growth in one component or slack in another.

Treatment plan: Diversify, monitor your holdings and select components with your risks and goals in mind. Time horizon and risk tolerance are likely to change as will the investment environment. One key contribution of modern portfolio theory (MPT), according to the 1990 Nobel Prize winner Professor Harry Markowitz, PhD, is the understanding that diversification can reduce portfolio risk. Indeed, the specific risk of a single stock may overwhelm any justification for failing to diversify.

Consider investing in sectors like basic materials, capital goods, communications and services, technology, consumer cyclicals and non-cyclicals, healthcare, energy, financial services and utilities. Investors can purchase most as individual securities, in mutual funds or as exchange traded funds (ETFs) or worldwide equity benchmark shares. Do not forget about cash equivalents, treasuries, zero coupon and municipal bonds and international securities.

Mistake 3: Forgetting The Investing Risk/Return Tradeoff
Some physicians fall into the trap of chasing “hot” securities like hedge funds, limited partnerships, non-registered securities or alternate investments promising high returns. High returns are associated with increased investment risk. Accordingly, it is important to understand the risks embedded in an investment before it becomes an exposed reality.

Treatment plan: Beware of projecting historic averages going forward. The stock market is inherently volatile. While it is easy to rely on past historic averages, there are long periods of time where returns regress from their long-term historic mean. On the other hand, slumps eventually correct themselves so you should continue a prudent investing plan.

Do not confuse investing with trading or speculation. According to Gene Schmuckler, PhD, the Director of Behavioral Finance for the Institute of Medical Business Advisors, Inc., there are momentum-driven market periods when investors start to believe profits are easy and there is always a “greater fool” to buy at a higher price. Such trading has more in common with gambling than investing. Avoid market timing and the urge to jump in or out at every economic hiccup.

Mistake 4: Not Factoring In The Impact Of Taxes
The desire to avoid capital gains and other taxes as a result of solid investment returns may lull some doctors into a false sense of security. An attractive investment and a slick sales pitch sometimes hide the underlying tax costs of the investment, especially when the investment is questionable. This leads doctors to give up a significant portion of the long-term growth of their assets.

Treatment plan: Income tax brackets, rates and estate taxes are almost at an all-time low in the U.S. This good fortune is due in part to the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, and the Job and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, among other tax credits and deductions. Some mutual funds, for example, are not tax efficient while some ETFs may be tax efficient. Strive for legitimate tax reductions and avoidance but remember that tax evasion is illegal.

Mistake 5: Not Factoring In Fees And Expenses
Front-end loads, back-end loads, disappearing and hidden loads, 12-b1 fees and commissions, and advertising and sales expenses can all have a significant impact on a particular investment program.

Treatment plan: Monitor the costs of your investment program to ensure that total costs are known, reasonable for the services provided and are not consuming a disproportionate amount of the investment returns. Carefully consider full-service versus discount brokerages.

Take care using discretionary assets under management (AUM) accounts where you pay a percentage for personalized money management. More often than not, these one-size-fits-all accounts are aggregated under a larger automated umbrella to harvest economies-of-scale automatically. Indeed, the mistaken notion that the advisor “is sitting on the same side of the investment table as you” starts deteriorating on critical reflection. Do not fall for the siren sales pitch (“If I make money, you make money”). Excessive risk taking, purchases and sales activity may be at your expense.

Carefully consider whether golf balls, seminars, football game tickets, pens or quarterly meetings with your “advisor” are worth the price you may ultimately pay for these minor trinkets and services.
For example, in a 2 percent AUM program of $1 million, you may pay $20,000 annually, which is automatically deducted from the account. Are these “perks” worth $200,000 over the course of a decade? During the “golden age of medicine” in the ‘80s or the ranging bull market of the ‘90s, some doctors may have thought it was worth it. What about during a bear market or the projected market of lower than average returns that may be upon us?

Other problems with AUMs include: a higher fee to managed stocks than bonds, creating an equity bias; bias against paying of the mortgage, practice or acquiring real estate; bias against gifting initiatives or charitable intent. These are all problematic for the same reason that over-weighted equity classes increase advisor compensation while these other equally important considerations do not.

Mistake 6: Inappropriate Risk-Management Techniques
Traditionally, physicians protected their families with life, disability, malpractice and business interruption insurance yet insurance products are not investment vehicles. They merely indemnify against catastrophic economic losses that are typically extinguished over time. Behavioral economists like Daniel Kahneman, PhD, of Princeton University, and Vernon L. Smith, PhD, of George Mason University, warn us to use these insurance products carefully since we tend to experience financial losses more intensely than gains and evaluate risks in isolation.

Additionally, a comprehensive risk management plan for doctors must acknowledge risks such as sexual harassment risks; workplace violence risks; Medicare documentation, recoupment and compliance risks; and the economic risks of divorce. There is also a plethora of acronymic risks such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Act, and many others.

Treatment plan: Be willing to abandon ancient thoughts and remain open to new ideas that identify and provide solutions to the contemporaneous insurance problems of physicians. As an example, in 2001, economist Christian Gollier, PhD, of the University of Geneva, asked, “Should one even buy personal insurance since the industry itself is so skilled at exploiting human foibles?”

Mistake 7: Inappropriate Insurance Agent
It is no surprise that goaded physicians might prefer insurance vehicles like the guaranteed minimum death benefit of variable annuities or traditional cash value life insurance policies despite their high costs, huge commissions and lower returns. Agents sell these products and they work for the insurance company, not for you. Basic insurance agent credentials include the chartered financial consultant and chartered life underwriter designations, but they may remain product salesmen.

Treatment plan: Always beware the fear-mongering insurance agent salesman as the flowing coverages may be unnecessary, too expensive, provide only minimal benefits or be duplicated in other insurance policies. These include credit life or home mortgage insurance (decreasing term), life insurance for children or the elderly, accident policies for students, hospital indemnity policies, dread disease insurance, credit card insurance, pet, flight or funeral insurance, prepaid legal insurance, trip cancellation, flood, earthquake and termite insurance, and most appliance extended warranties.

Instead, consider a licensed insurance advisor or insurance counselor who sells no products, accepts no commissions and charges by the hour, all while shopping for the best companies and rates for the risk being researched. A fiduciary focused Certified Medical Planner® may be even better.

Mistake 8: Selecting The Wrong Accountant
When asking for the value of a practice, ask specifically for the fair market value (FMV). One podiatrist who consulted us asked her accountant for the “value” of her practice and received its lower “book value” rather than the higher fair market value as a profitable ongoing concern. The MD lost tens of thousands of dollars in a subsequent sales transaction. Unfortunately, although the CPA produced correct figures for exactly what she requested, the doctor did not differentiate between the two terms. Later legal mediation determined that neither was responsible for the linguistic error as both parties acted in good faith. Of course, the doctor paid dearly for her mistake.

Treatment plan: Dr. Gary L. Bode, CPA, MSA, a former medical practitioner and CFO for iMBA, Inc., suggests that you take the time to discuss wants and needs with your accountant. Those from the National CPA Healthcare Advisors Association ( or the Healthcare Financial Management Association ( may also increase your comfort level through additional medical expertise. Better yet, contact an experienced medical practice valuation expert or healthcare economist.

Mistake 9: Not Having Your Practice Professionally Valuated [not appraised]
The sale or purchase of a medical practice may be the most important investment decision of your life. We have observed neurotic purchasers who spend far too much time, money and energy researching a fairly priced and modest practice to no avail (paralysis of analysis). Others have purchased exorbitantly priced practices for over $1 to $2 million on a handshake and promise. Accordingly, give this complex task the gravitas due, and run from those who would broker your sale with a “free” or “Internet-based valuation,” or provide “finance participation” schemes for purchase as a young practitioner.

According to IRS Revenue Ruling 59-60, the value of any medical practice is generally based upon the following:
• level of expected distribution and future cash flows;
• time of expected distributions and cash flows; and
• uncertainty of the expected cash flows and distributions.

Moreover, one should recall that a valuation is not a source document audit. Know specialty and industry economic conditions, trends, operating history, physician bonuses, dividends, distributions and comparable practice sales. A commission or percentage-based fee is considered unethical and may be illegal.

Accounting book value is not the same as a fair market valuation. Do not use back-of-the envelope trade magazine “multiplier methods” and obtain only Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP)-styled valuations, which were first issued by the IRS in 1994-1995.

Combine the recognized USPAP-IRS valuation methods: income method with discounted cash flow analysis, market method and cost approach. Be sure to adjust financial statements in order to normalize each line entry. You must do the discounted cash flow analysis (DCFA) on an after-tax basis and base proper assumptions on physician compensation market rates.

Understand the intangible difference between personal and business goodwill, major premiums and minority control discounts.

Doing a walk through of the practice is mandatory for your protection. Trust but verify tangible assets and liabilities, estimates of practice risks, economic assumptions and future earning capacity.
Obtain a separate and independent real estate appraisal if necessary.

Make sure the valuation is written, substantiates value, supports conclusions and is signed by an appraiser who will defend the valuation in court as a qualified expert witness if necessary. This certification is formally known as an “opinion of value” and the only type we perform.

Remember to obtain two independent valuations, one for the buyer and one for the seller, and pay for each separately.

Treatment plan: Have the financing lined up before you buy a practice. The three major impediments to loan acquisition are school loan debt, a home mortgage and an automobile note in that order So, strive to reduce or eliminate them before applying for a loan. Hire licensed appraisal professionals with publishing, teaching and/or academic experience. Do not hire brokers or commissioned agents.
Organizations that accredit businesses but not necessarily medical practice appraisers include:

• The Institute of Business Appraisers ( awards the certifications of certified business appraiser and business valuators accredited in valuation.
• The National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts ( awards the designations of certified valuation analysts and accredited valuation analysts.

Well-known medical practice and healthcare system appraisers include the big 10 consulting firms for hospitals and national healthcare systems. However, the Arthur Andersen debacle confirms that “bigger is not always better.” Medical practice niche players include Health Capital Consultants, LLC, (www.healthcapital. com), which provides large- and medium-sized practice valuations.

The Institute of Medial Business Advisors Inc, ( specializes in small to medium practices, emerging healthcare organizations, clinics and ambulatory surgery center valuations and confers the designation Certified Medical Planner® on its independent consultants, appraisers and advisors.

Mistake 10: Selecting The Wrong Attorney
Consider the bizarre tale of the two fledgling internist partner/classmates who signed an attorney-prepared, buy-sell agreement upon creation of their nascent practice 30 years beforehand. The agreement stipulated that upon departure or dissolution, the remaining partner’s ownership would be determined not by some periodically updated valuation formula or appraisal process, Instead, it would be determined by a “matched and lost” process, also known as the “flip of a coin” for a medical conglomerate now worth over $1 million.

Treatment plan: Select a health law attorney and not your brother-in-law. More importantly, experience in the medical arena counts. Consult iMBA, Inc. or the American Health Lawyers Association ( as a referral resource.

Mistake 11: Blind Trust Of Wall Street And Financial Advisors
Stockbroker salesmen and the big brokerage houses that underwrite and recommend stocks may have credibility problems and some physicians get burned with the adrenaline rush of “self-directed” portfolios. Presently, both the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) and National Association of Securities Dealers are investigating far too many insurance companies and major wire houses for reverse churning (charging a fee on assets for which the stockbroker is providing virtually no services) and/or double dipping (charging an ongoing fee on mutual funds on which the client already paid a substantial commission).

No one knows for sure how to mitigate such shenanigans since human nature and self-interest are involved. Rest assured that the economic cycle will never be repealed and you must beware the four most dangerous words on Wall Street: “This time, it’s different.” Yet some believe the answer may lay with the independent fee-only advisor who charges by the hour, by the engagement, or pro re nata for advice.
Beware of taking the advice of a financial advisor carte blanche. The prime duty of a financial advisor should be to clients. Yet the very term “financial advisor” has no real academic or consistent meaning in the industry. The only hurdle to becoming one is passing a simple securities industry or state insurance sales licensing examination. Most are brokerage and agency employees with a duty to their respective firms, not you.

Treatment plan: Commissioned stockbrokers are fine to use if their fees are transparent and they offer value to you. However, be aware that Wall Street sales mavens and large broker-dealers (wire-houses) recently lobbied Congress not to be responsible to you after the sale. The Financial Planning Association is suing the SEC over this proposal to exempt the nation’s largest wire-house brokerages from certain fiduciary responsibilities associated with investment advisory regulations.

To avoid selecting the wrong financial advisor, choose an independent advisor who takes pride in fiduciary responsibility, knows the medical profession and eschews product sales commissions whenever possible. Such a professional is more than deserving of a fee. Do not hesitate to pay it.

To determine if your current advisor is the right choice, just ask to see the documents below:
• form ADV parts I and II;
• sample investment policy statement;
• registered investment advisor or series #65 investment advisory license
• CMP® license number;
• ethics requirement or attestation statements; and
• advanced degrees and designations, etc.

Some CMPs® and fee-only financial advisors possess these professional certifications as required. Stockbrokers, salesmen, intermediaries and insurance agents may not. All monikers suggest but do not guarantee impartiality and a lack of bias. Also make sure your financial advisor is experienced in the rapidly changing healthcare industrial complex.

Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™


Mistake 12: Lack Of A Complete Financial Plan
While many doctors have an investment portfolio, few have a comprehensive personal financial plan, especially one designed for medical professionals.

Treatment plan: Typically such plans consider the risk tolerance and time frame of several standard components such as insurance, taxation, investing, retirement and estate planning. Today’s practicing physicians should direct attention toward practice enhancement, economic risk management, valuations, charitable giving and succession planning. All should be interrelated in an economically sound manner and not be counterproductive to individual components of the plan.

In Conclusion
Often, successful investing and avoiding a life of economic servitude is simply a matter of delayed gratification and mistake avoidance rather than investing acumen. A good rule of thumb is to pursue fundamentals over fads and seek wise counsel when required.

About the Author

Dr. Marcinko is a Certified Financial Planner and Certified Medical Planner® and CEO for, sponsor of the Certified Medical Planner charter designation program. He can be reached by phone at (770) 448-0769 or by e-mail at


1. Marcinko DE. Financial planning for Physicians and Advisors. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, Mass., 2005.
2. Marcinko DE. Insurance and Risk Management Strategies for Physicians and Advisors. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, Mass., 2005.



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Personal Financial Planning for Physicians and Medical Colleagues

ME Inc = Going it Alone but with a Team


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The physician, nurse, or other medical professional should easily recognize that there are a vast array of opportunities, obstacles, and pitfalls when it comes to managing one’s finances.  Still, with some modicum of effort, the basic aspects of insurance, investments, taxes, accounting, portfolio management, retirement and estate planning, debt reduction, asset protection and practice management can be largely self-taught. Yet, it is realized that nuances and subtleties can make a well-intentioned financial plan fall short.  The devil truly is in the details.  Moreover, none of these areas can be addressed in isolation. It is common for a solution in one area to cause a new set of problems in another. 

Accordingly, most health care practitioners would be well served to hire [independent, hourly compensated and prn] financial help. Unlike some medical problems, financial issues may not cause any “pain” or other obvious symptoms.  Medical professionals tend to have far more complex financial situations than most lay people. Despite the complexities of the new world of health reform, far too many either do nothing; or give up all control totally, to an external advisor. This either/or mistake can be costly in many ways, and should be avoided. 

In reality, and at various time in their careers, the medical professional needs a team comprised of at least a financial analyst, lawyer, management consultant, risk manager [actuary, mathematician or insurance counselor] and accountant. At various points in time, each member of the team, or significant others, will properly assume a role of more or less importance, but the doctor must usually remain the “quarterback” or leader; in the absence of a truly informed other, or Certified Medical Planner™.

This is necessary because only the doctor has the personal self-mandate with skin in the game, to take a big picture view.  And, rightly or wrongly, investments dominate the information available regarding personal finance and the attention of most physicians.  One is much more likely to need or want to discuss the financial markets with their financial advisor than private letter rulings by the IRS, or with their estate planning attorney or tax accountant. While hiring for expertise is a good idea, there is sinister way advisors goad doctors into using all their retail services; all of the time. That artifice is – the value of time. 

True integrated physician focused and financial planning is at its core a service business, not a product or sales endeavor. And, increasingly money is more likely to be at the top of the list for providers as the healthcare environment is contracting.

So, eschewing the quarterback model of advice, and choosing to self-educate thru this book and elsewhere, may be one of the best efforts a smart physician can make.

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Dr. David Edward Marcinko, editor-in-chief, is a next-generation apostle of Nobel Laureate Kenneth Joseph Arrow, PhD, as a health-care economist, insurance advisor, financial advisor, risk manager, and board-certified surgeon from Temple University in Philadelphia. In the past, he edited eight practice-management books, three medical textbooks and manuals in four languages, five financial planning yearbooks, dozens of interactive CD-ROMs, and three comprehensive health-care administration dictionaries. Internationally recognized for his clinical work, he is a distinguished visiting professor of surgery and a recipient of an honorary Bachelor of Medicine–Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree from Marien Hospital in Aachen, Germany. He provides litigation support and expert witness testimony in state and federal court, with medical publications archived in the Library of Congress and the Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.


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By Ann Miller RN MHA


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An Rx for Physician’s Financial Health

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Fundamental Principles for all Medical Professionals

Donald M. Roy CFP® CFS


The demands on medical practitioners today can seem overwhelming. It’s no secret that health-care delivery is changing, and those changes are reflected in the financial issues that health-care professionals face every day. You must continually educate yourself about new research in your chosen specialty, stay current on the latest technology that is transforming health care, and pay attention to business considerations, including ever-changing state and federal insurance regulations.

Like many, you may have transitioned from medical school and residency to being on your own with little formal preparation for the substantial financial issues you now face. Even the day-to-day concerns that affect most people–paying college tuition bills or student loans, planning for retirement, buying a home, insuring yourself and your business–may be complicated by the challenges and rewards of a medical practice. It’s no wonder that many medical practitioners look forward to the day when they can relax and enjoy the fruits of their labors.

Unfortunately, substantial demands on your time can make it difficult for you to accurately evaluate your financial plan, or monitor changes that can affect it. That’s especially true given ongoing health care reform efforts that will affect the future of the industry as a whole. Just as patients need periodic checkups, you may need to work with a financial professional to make sure your finances receive the proper care.

Maximizing your personal assets

Much like medicine, the field of finance has been the subject of much scientific research and data, and should be approached with the same level of discipline and thoughtfulness. Making the most of your earning years requires a plan for addressing the following issues.


Your years of advanced training and perhaps the additional costs of launching and building a practice may have put you behind your peers outside the health-care field by a decade or more in starting to save and invest for retirement. You may have found yourself struggling with debt from years of college, internship, and residency; later, there’s the ongoing juggling act between making mortgage payments, caring for your parents, paying for weddings and tuition for your children, and maybe trying to squeeze in a vacation here and there. Because starting to save early is such a powerful ally when it comes to building a nest egg, you may face a real challenge in assuring your own retirement. A solid financial plan can help.


Getting a late start on saving for retirement can create other problems.

For example, you might be tempted to try to make up for lost time by making investment choices that carry an inappropriate level or type of risk for you. Speculating with money you will need in the next year or two could leave you short when you need that money. And once your earnings improve, you may be tempted to overspend on luxuries you were denied during the lean years. One of the benefits of a long-range financial plan is that it can help you protect your assets–and your future–from inappropriate choices.


Many medical professionals not only must pay off student loans, but also have a strong desire to help their children with college costs, precisely because they began their own careers saddled with large debts.

Tax considerations

Once the lean years are behind you, your success means you probably need to pay more attention to tax-aware investing strategies that help you keep more of what you earn.

Using preventive care

The nature of your profession requires that you pay special attention to making sure you are protected both personally and professionally from the financial consequences of legal action, a medical emergency of your own, and business difficulties. Having a well-defined protection plan can give you confidence that you can practice your chosen profession without putting your family or future in jeopardy.

Liability insurance

Medical professionals are caught financially between rising premiums for malpractice insurance and fixed reimbursements from managed-care programs and you may find yourself evaluating a variety of approaches to providing that protection. Some physicians also carry insurance that protects them against unintentional billing errors or omissions.

Remember that in addition to potential malpractice claims, you also face the same potential liabilities as other business owners. You might consider an umbrella policy as well as coverage that protects against business-related exposures such as fire, theft, employee dishonesty, or business interruption.

Disability insurance

Your income depends on your ability to function, especially if you’re a solo practitioner, and you may have fixed overhead costs that would need to be covered if your ability to work were impaired. One choice you’ll face is how early in your career to purchase disability insurance. Age plays a role in determining premiums, and you may qualify for lower premiums if you are relatively young. When evaluating disability income policies, medical professionals should pay special attention to how the policy defines disability. Look for a liberal definition such as “own occupation,” which can help ensure that you’re covered in case you can’t practice in your chosen specialty.

To protect your business if you become disabled, consider business overhead expense insurance that will cover routine expenses such as payroll, utilities, and equipment rental. An insurance professional can help evaluate your needs.

Practice management and business planning

Is a group practice more advantageous than operating solo, taking in a junior colleague, or working for a managed-care network? If you have an independent practice, should you own or rent your office space? What are the pros and cons of taking over an existing practice compared to starting one from scratch? If you’re part of a group practice, is the practice structured financially to accommodate the needs of all partners? Does running a “concierge” or retainer practice appeal to you? If you’re considering expansion, how should you finance it?

Questions like these are rarely simple and should be done in the context of an overall financial plan that takes into account both your personal and professional goals.

Many physicians have created processes and products for their own practices, and have then licensed their creations to a corporation. If you are among them, you may need help with legal and financial concerns related to patents, royalties, and the like. And if you have your own practice, you may find that cash flow management, maximizing return on working capital, hiring and managing employees, and financing equipment purchases and maintenance become increasingly complex issues as your practice develops.

Practice valuation

You may have to make tradeoffs between maximizing current income from your practice and maximizing its value as an asset for eventual sale. Also, timing the sale of a practice and minimizing taxes on its proceeds can be complex. If you’re planning a business succession, or considering changing practices or even careers, you might benefit from help with evaluating the financial consequences of those decisions.

Estate planning

Estate planning, which can both minimize taxes and further your personal and philanthropic goals, probably will become important to you at some point. Options you might consider include:

  • Life insurance
  • Buy-sell agreements for your practice
  • Charitable trusts

You’ve spent a long time acquiring and maintaining expertise in your field, and your patients rely on your specialized knowledge. Doesn’t it make sense to treat your finances with the same level of care?

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact:


Dictionary of Health Insurance and Managed Care

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Doctors – Are You Ready to Retire?


By Somnath Basu; PhD, MBA

For those of us between the ages of 45 to 54, the thought of retirement should be popping up a few times these days. And, for doctors between ages 55 and 64, the thought may be taking on urgent tones. Many of us are reconciling to the idea that it may be a fact that we have to either postpone our retirements or live a much simpler life during retirement. Whatever the thoughts may be, what’s driving them is our preparedness to retire.

Preparedness Components

So, we will now examine what the component (dos and don’ts) may be for physicians, and others, to assess whether they are on the right path in their preparations to retire. It is somewhat easier if we consider the preparedness issues of the expectant retirees along the two age groups we tagged earlier. It is possible that we may find that the proper components of our retirement plans may already exist for us and we need to give them a good and disciplined effort to carry us through in the retirement years. It is also important to note, in this vein, that as a nation, our savings rate has gone from -0.6% in 2006 to about 5% today. While most of the increase in savings is the result of people building back an emergency nest egg, we can also take heart in the fact that the savings habit has not become obsolete or even rusty, and given the proper motivation (e.g. a sub-standard retired lifestyle), we can alter our destinies by riding on the same savings wave.

The Possibilities

Let us begin by describing the possibilities for the younger group (ages 45-54) doctors and employees pondering their retirement moves. There are two aspects of retirement that needs consideration. First is the contemplation of the needs associated with retirement lifestyles and the corresponding financial requirements required to sustain such lifestyles.

The second is to consider our current lifestyles, living standards (consumption), our income and savings and to assess whether we are set to achieve our retirement lifestyle targets. To understand the many possibilities, we will examine some typical scenarios using data from the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI). Note that all calculations are only approximations for a typical individual.

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If you are about 50 years of age, have worked and saved for about 20 years [401(k), or 403(b)] or other pension plan) and earn about $100,000 a year, you should have about $200,000 in your retirement account today. Assuming that Social Security (if the organization remains viable and makes its required payouts), covers about 27% of your needed retirement expenses. You could expect a Social Security payment of about $30,000 per year at age 65. This would mean that in about 15 years, you would need to generate an additional $80,000 per year from your own savings. While you may think that you are not consuming $110,000 worth of lifestyle today, it is useful to note that this estimate is in future (and inflated) dollar terms.

This brings us back to the second question of how much you may be consuming today. If you are paying about 25% as taxes and saving another 5%, then you are currently spending about $70,000 today. At a 3% inflation rate, in 15 years this amounts to a spending of $110,000 on an income of approximately $160,000.

Thus, if your 403(b) balance does not change from now till retirement and you estimate to plan for a 25 year retirement phase, then your 403(b) account will be equivalent to about an additional $8,000 per year, which itself will grow every year minimally at the inflation rate.

If you assume the 403(b) plan will itself grow at about 7% a year over the next 40 years (from ages 50 to 90) then at retirement (age 65) you’ll have about $550,000 and be able to withdraw about $50,000 per year. This will leave you with a shortfall of $30,000 per year. To be able to afford retirement to its fullest, you’ll need to save an additional $15,000 per year for the next 15 years. Before you begin thinking that is a doable task and start assessing which parts of current lifestyle to pare, note that many of the assumptions above may not hold true.

Average Rates of Return

For example, earning a 7% average rate of return over 40 years is no simple task; Social Security may not be able to deliver on its promise. Physician income and job security is a political issue. Paring current lifestyle is a bigger issue. Healthcare and leisure types of costs during retirement may increase by more than 3%, even as you consume more of these retirement lifestyle services.

Therefore, you may want to continue enjoying your current medical practice lifestyle and consider worrying about retirement about 10 years (or more) later or you may take stock of your current situation. If your situation is worse than the average portrayed above, a big issue for you is to keep your physical and mental health well balanced and not depressed and medicated; plan to postpone retirement and practice or work longer, albeit in good health.


If you are about 60 years of age, have worked for about 25-30 years, earn $100,00 per year and have about $350,000 in your retirement accounts, your problems are more exacerbated and your fears (of postponing retirement, paring current or future lifestyle or not being able to make up shortfalls) are much more real. The strategies remain the same from earlier in that you have to make some urgent and difficult decisions. These are decisions that cannot be postponed any longer.

Note: First released “All Things Financial Planning Blog” on December 18, 2009.


Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.


Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact:


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