In September, we selected the 2019 recipients of the Environics Award for Excellence in Advanced Social Research.
The data show that, for many physicians, amount saved is a deciding factor in terms of when to retire
While many physicians are well prepared for retirement, the study also found that a sizeable proportion struggle with financial pressures as they near retirement age.
- 20% worry about making ends meet month-to-month
- 49% are finding it hard to save for retirement
- two in three worry about unexpected expenses impacting their financial plans
Financial anxiety is particularly acute for those age 40–50, those who have children living at home, and/or those struggling with consumer debt or mortgages.
“People may be surprised to learn that physicians are anxious about their finances and struggling with saving for retirement, but this study confirms what we hear from our clients,” says Julie Petrera, National Lead, Financial Planning Content and Signature Strategy, at MD Financial Management. “I hope this research helps people know that they aren’t alone. They can talk about it. They can do something about it.”
The difference a plan makes
“What we can say with certainty is having a retirement plan matters,” Hunt says, adding that this is especially true for those under 50. “In those two decades before retirement, when you are juggling multiple financial demands and pressures, it may be hard to know where retirement should rank in terms of your priorities, or how to save accordingly.” That’s exactly why having a plan is so important, Hunt says.
“The shift to retirement isn’t just financial, it’s emotional and psychological too,” Hunt says, “especially for people like physicians whose work can come to define their meaning and value.”
As well as committing a retirement plan to paper, Hunt suggests that physicians do the following:
- Identify the emotional and/or practical supports they will need from family and friends in retirement.
- Think in concrete terms about how they will spend their time, whether that’s volunteering or travelling or pursuing their passions.
- Have a plan for the unexpected, including family emergencies or changes to their health or mobility.
“If this study tells us anything, it’s this: those who plan earlier do better,” Hunt says. And that matters, he says, not just in terms of savings, but in terms of peace of mind. “At MD, we’ve been helping physicians retire for a very long time — half a century. Our best advice holds true: plan for it.”
About the MD Physician Retirement Readiness Study
The MD Physician Retirement Readiness Study explores how Canadian physicians are thinking about and preparing for retirement. The study focuses on physicians (both medical specialists and general practitioners) across Canada who are over the age of 40 and working full time. The online study was carried out by Environics Research between August 12 and September 4, 2018, with 402 physicians participating. The e-book is available online.