Doctors are notoriously bad with money. Part of this has to do with the fact that the schools that prepare our future doctors are ill equipped to teach them about money. When I was a fourth-year medical student, my school had a financial group come and talk to us about money. Not only was their advice conflicted, but the lawyer who owned the financial group would later end up going to jail for fraud. We doctors have a giant target painted on our back.
Why are doctors so often the targets of financial debauchery?
Today’s post hopes to answer this question by pointing out five ways that doctors have a target painted on their back. Hopefully, through this discussion, you will be more aware of how and why people aim to steal a part of the pie that is rightly yours.
Target number 1: High income earners
The most obvious reason that doctors have a target on our back is because we are high-income earners. Even the lowest earning specialties in medicine earn more than $100,000 per year. The highest earning specialists earn north of $500,000.
With the median income in our country resting around $55-60,000, this places a target squarely on our back. For this reason, when the financial industry sees doctors, they see an opportunity to convince you to let go of a little bit of that money. You obviously don’t need all of that money.
Their goal quickly becomes to earn a piece of the pie that you worked so hard to obtain. Any work that they put in will likely be worth the effort given your income earning capacity.
Target number 2: Low financial acumen
Becoming a board-certified physician requires at the very least four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school, and three years of residency training. For many, it involves much more. During this time, we work 60-100 hours per week learning our craft.
Who in this situation has time to learn about financial topics? Particularly given that our medical education system has failed to make this a priority despite being perfectly fine with allowing the government to hand us hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.
Because of the limited time that is put towards personal finance topics, doctors often fall prey to the most common financial schemes. We purchase whole-life insurance, actively managed hedge funds, and individual securities pitched at us by financial advisors who have “special access” for high-income earners.
This is why it is so important to get non-conflicted advice. Do your due diligence and learn enough about this stuff to avoid being hoodwinked by some would-be salesperson or assets under management (AUM) financial advisor that does not have your best interests in mind.
Target number 3: We are too busy doing our job
You know why a lot of doctors have a target painted on their back? Because we are too busy taking care of other people.
We are not very good at taking care of ourselves. This extends from wealth to health. Every month a large sum of money is placed into our accounts, just to see it vanish into the abyss of an inflated lifestyle and poor financial decisions.
Given that the system never taught us any better, our financial futures were left to chance that we might figure this stuff out on our own along the way. Unfortunately, we have neglected our financial situation.
For this reason, there are certain people who are more than happy to take advantage of this. “Hey doc, we both know that you are too busy to worry about this stuff. Just let me take care of everything so that you can do what you do best: taking care of patients.”
That all sounds well and good until twenty years later when you realize you’ve been taken to the woodshed and beaten, without realizing it.
Target number 4: Personal finance is too complicated to DIY
This one is pretty simple given what has already been mentioned. We are busy. And we don’t know a lot about finances. So, it becomes very easy for others to convince us that it is all too complicated.
The truth is that it can be complicated, if we make it. But it certainly doesn’t have to be complicated. You can get to financial independence without knowing everything. You simply need to know enough.
It can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Make it simple.
Target number 5: Overly trusting
“Listen, you don’t need to learn about all of this stuff, doc. That’s why there are professionals. We can help set you up. We’ll take care of you. Just trust us.”
Call me a pessimist, but the specialty of anesthesiology exists because we “Trust, but verify” what others tell us. Many patients I take care of have benefited from me double checking what others tell me.
In the personal finance space, I was screwed over enough times to realize that many people did not have my best interests at heart.
That’s why I started this site. To teach medical students, residents, early career attendings, and other medical professionals about this stuff.
The purpose of this post is to help doctors realize that they have a target painted on their back. People in the financial space do not always have your best interests at heart. It is your responsibility to “trust, but verify.”
In the end, it is also your responsibility to realize that this isn’t so complicated that you cannot do it yourself. There are plenty of people who are looking out for you and are willing to help.
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