The median wage for physicians in the U.S. is more than $208,000 annually. By contrast, the average American makes around $54,000 per year. Just by looking at these numbers, you can tell that physicians are in a unique financial situation when compared to the average American taxpayer.
High incomes may seem like a dream to most of us, but they can also come with their fair share of financial challenges. For example, physicians often graduate medical school with significant student loan debt. But that’s only part of it.
Financial advisors for physicians can help you get ahead of student loan debt so you can start paying yourself back for all your hard work.
Financial planners can help you zero in on your values in life, so you can set aside funds for priorities, like retirement planning, building wealth, and charitable giving.
6 Best Financial Advisors for Physicians
We’ve explored the market, vetted the best financial planners for physicians, and identified the important information you need to make a decision:
- The Finity Group
- LJW Wealth Management of Raymond James
- Physician Family Financial Advisors
- Olson Consulting
- Integrity Wealth Solutions
- Financial Services Offered: Tax Planning, Investment Management, Retirement Planning, Student Loan Planning, Insurance Planning, Financial Wellness
- Fee Structure: One-time plan creation fee plus a monthly subscription
WealthKeel is a financial advising group designed to meet the needs of Generation X and Y physicians. Chad Chubb, the founder, is a certified financial planner who saw a gap in the financial market in regard to how it served physicians.
His company works to provide a holistic approach to financial planning, whereas some other firms may place more focus on investments.
As certified financial planners, WealthKeel’s advisors hold fiduciary responsibility. They won’t overuse confusing jargon and they’ll work with you to make sure your financial plan is focused on your preferred priorities.
You can schedule a free icebreaker call to start the process. Once you become a client, the team will work to gather information about your current financial situation through a discovery call.
By month 2, your plan will be developed and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions. After you’ve agreed upon the plan, your advisor will assign action items and hold you accountable to your to-do list.
From there, you’ll be scheduled for consistent check-ins to make sure you’re on track with your financial goals and the plan is still aligned with your needs.
WealthKeel structures its fees through two programs. Inpatient Planning requires a one-time plan creation fee of $2500 plus an ongoing monthly fee based on your household income. This fee starts at $500 per month.
Outpatient Planning requires a one-time plan creation fee of $5000, then you can choose to continue paying monthly for 3, 6, or 9 months after. Medical residents and fellows are eligible for reduced rates.
2. The Finity Group
- Financial Services Offered: Financial Planning, Wealth Management, Insurance, Student Loans, Contract Review
- Fee Structure: Flat fee based on assets
The Finity Group specializes in the financial needs of physicians, dentists, and medical professionals at any stage of their careers. The group believes that transparency breeds trust, so it starts all relationships off with a thorough outline of fees and processes.
After a free consultation, an advisor will send a financial planning engagement letter that explicitly details your monthly retainer and the scope of services you’ll be offered.
In general, these fees range from $1,200 to $12,000 annually, but more complex financial situations can lead to higher fees.
Medical students, residents, and fellows aren’t subject to monthly subscription costs, except when household income exceeds $100,000 annually. In some cases, you may be charged a monthly fee of less than $75 while you’re still in training.
Its advisors will work with you to identify your long-term financial goals while also helping you pay down student loans, plan for retirement, and negotiate a contract that supports your efforts.
Learn More at TheFinityGroup.com
3. LJW Wealth Management of Raymond James
- Financial Services Offered: Risk Management and Insurance, Cash Flow Analysis, Debt Management Strategies, Smart Borrowing Options, Investment Advice and Education, Tax Considerations, Practice Management and Business Planning, Accelerated Retirement Planning, Estate, Legacy and Charitable Planning
- Fee Structure: Not specified
LJW Wealth Management of Raymond James offers a large suite of services tailored to the unique needs of physicians.
Its advisors recognize the financial challenges of physicians, such as mounting insurance premiums, reduced payouts, and soaring pressures to provide high-quality care to medically delicate patients.
Its team will work closely with your existing tax and legal advisors to establish a long-term wealth management plan that helps you grow financial independence, save for a home, or fund your child’s education.
The firm’s advisory services take place in four parts. First, it will work to understand all parts of your current financial situation. Then, it will design a plan based on the information you provide.
Next, it will begin to implement your agreed-upon strategy and finally, it will work to continuously manage your plan in accordance with your goals.
Learn More at RaymondJames.com
4. Physician Family Financial Advisors
- Financial Services Offered: Tax Strategies, Retirement Planning, Investment Management
- Fee Structure: Monthly retainer
Physician Family Financial Advisors is another fee-only financial plan that focuses solely on the needs of physicians with families.
Its advisers are certified financial planners and SEC-registered with more than 25 years of experience.
As such, they have a fiduciary responsibility and work on a fee-only structure. The team will work with you to identify any tax breaks you’ve missed by digging into the nitty-gritty of your unique situation.
It will also look at your current investment portfolio, if you have one, and make sure you’re not overpaying for unnecessary fees or confused by too many options.
From there, the team will work to maximize your returns so you can focus on caring for your patients and raising your family.
Physician Family Financial Advisors focus on wealth management, investments, and retirement planning.
Clients can choose a lifetime membership for $625 per month with a 24-month commitment, or an annual membership for $725 per month with a 12-month commitment.
Learn More at PhysicianFamily.com
5. Olson Consulting
- Financial Services Offered: Comprehensive Financial Plan and Existing Financial Plan
- Fee Structure: One-time or quarterly
Olson Consulting is a full-service financial planning firm specializing in early-career physicians. Instead of focusing on one facet of financial planning, Tyler Olson looks at all elements of your finances. Clients can choose to craft a new finance plan or work off an existing financial plan.
The former is a flat of $6,000. It includes four virtual appointments where an advisor will create a comprehensive plan and then hold you accountable for seeing it through.
The appointments will take place over a period of four months, during which you’ll have unlimited phone and email access to Mr. Olson.
The existing financial plan option is $3,000. With this option, you and an advisor will discuss your existing plan in detail during a 2-hour meeting.
You’ll identify your biggest obstacles, and any changes in your goals, and set a new action plan that keeps you accountable. With this option, you’ll have one month of unlimited phone and email questions to ask all your burning questions and raise any concerns.
Learn More at OlsonConsultingMI.com
6. Integrity Wealth Solutions
- Financial Services Offered: Retirement Income Planning, Investment Planning and Management, Charitable Gift and Estate Planning, Portfolio Tax Planning, Business Planning, College Education Funding, Insurance Review
- Fee Structure: Flat fee based on assets
Integrity Wealth Solutions works with people from all walks of life, but it is especially well-versed in the needs of high-earning physicians. Its advisors are focused on looking at your entire financial footprint––not just your investment portfolio.
Its co-founders, Justina Welch and Clint Thomas are certified financial planners with masters in business. They will work with you to identify the core values of your financial legacy, whether that’s automating charitable contributions or building generational wealth.
Clients with less than $500,000 in assets will be charged a per-project fee. Financial planning is included in the asset management fee for clients with more than $500,000 in assets.
These fees are 1% of your total assets managed by the firm––billed quarterly.
Learn More at Integrity-Wealth.com
Four Types of Financial Planning
There are four main types of financial planning:
- Individual planning: An individual provides one-on-one counseling to another entity. It’s personalized and hands-on, but it can be less efficient. You’re also only getting the advice of one person in this model.
- Central planning: A company or team of advisors provides a suite of services. In this model, you have the benefit of receiving a variety of perspectives, but your advisor may not have the same depth of knowledge of your financial situation.
- Supportive planning: This model combines the best parts of individual planning and central planning. With supportive planning, you receive the hands-on expertise of a dedicated advisor and the sophisticated perspectives of a team executing your financial plan.
- Consumer-driven: This model provides a quick assessment of your current financial life so you can make informed decisions on your own. In general, robo-advisors are the most common consumer-driven financial planning tool. They’re taking off as a low-cost alternative to more expensive financial services.
Financial Planner vs. Financial Advisor
A financial planner is a specific job title for a person who manages the long-term financial goals of their clients whereas a financial advisor is a catch-all term for anyone who provides recommendations on debt, insurance, risk management, investments, tax law, retirement planning, and similar areas.
There isn’t a defined regulatory body for financial planners, so it’s up to consumers to vet the people who handle their money.
In general, any financial planner who advises the general public is required to pass The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) Series 65 exam, but there are a variety of specialty certifications for other financial professionals.
Five Things Financial Advisors for Physicians Do
A financial planner typically does five things for a physician:
- Cash-flow planning: This type of planning often references businesses, but it can apply to personal finance too. It makes judgments based on your expected expenses, revenue, and income from investments. Cash-flow planning can be particularly helpful for medical professionals with significant student loan debt they’re trying to get ahead of.
- Insurance planning: This type of planning ensures that you are covered in a variety of situations. You’ll want to confirm you’re covered with short-term disability insurance, life insurance, health insurance, and home/auto insurance because events in these areas can cause a significant financial burden.
- Retirement planning: This type of planning helps you decide how much you want to set aside for retirement and estate planning. Your financial advisor will provide investment advice based on your expected retirement age, current income, and returns.
- Tax planning: This type of planning allows healthcare professionals to anticipate tax liability, which can be particularly important for physicians who own a medical practice. With the right financial planner, you can become tax-efficient by decreasing your tax liability so you can maximize cash flow for your investments and other expenses.
- Investment planning: This type of planning will take your risk tolerance, desired rate of return, and other financial challenges into account before providing investment advice.
Financial Planner Fees
The normal fee for a financial planner is 1% of the total assets under management, but some others charge a flat rate. Robo-advisors, such as Wealthfront and Betterment, may charge as little as 0.25%–0.5%.
In general, the more money you bring to the table, the more negotiating power you have when discussing the cost of financial services.
Fee-only financial advisors have a fiduciary responsibility to represent their client’s best interests at all times. Fee-based financial advisors may earn a commission on products they sell to you in addition to the fees you pay them for their services.
We recommend only working with advisors with fiduciary responsibility, such as registered investment advisors and certified financial planners.
Benefits of Hiring a Financial Advisor
Planning for the future can help young physicians make the most of their high salaries by making wise financial decisions.
A written financial plan can be empowering for individuals from all walks of life because it gives you a better idea of what you currently have and where your money’s going so you can build a budget in alignment with your values.
With the right financial advice, you can make impressive strides by paying down student loans, credit cards, and other outstanding debts that may serve as a barrier to larger financial goals, such as buying a house, opening a private practice, or setting yourself up for financial independence.
It can also automate your savings by helping you decide how much money to set aside for retirement planning, building an investment portfolio, or making sure you have a suitable emergency fund.
How to Vet Financial Advisors for Physicians
Anyone can provide financial advice, but not everyone is a qualified financial advisor. As such, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing your due diligence before allowing someone to manage your personal finances.
You can take a few steps to confirm you’re working with a reputable financial advisor.
1. Use BrokerCheck
FINRA’s BrokerCheck tool has a complete database of firms and individuals licensed to provide financial advice. With this tool, you can look at someone’s employment history as well as any complaints levied against them.
2. Ask for Referrals
Your hospital’s human resources department and other physicians may be able to provide you with a list of financial advisors they recommend. Getting a referral can allow you to find someone with a proven track record and years of experience working with medical professionals.
3. Review Credentials
Anyone with an Instagram and a couple of dollars can tell others how to spend it, but credentialed advisors have had to pursue certifications, complete coursework, and align with industry standards.
Financial planners can be certified as CFPs, but it’s not a requirement. The finance sector is a lot like the medical profession in that some people are general practitioners while others have a more defined practice area.
In addition to Certified Financial Planners, there are Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs), Chartered Financial Analysts (CFAs), Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), and Chartered Financial Consultants (CFC), among many other specialized designations.
Choosing a credentialed financial advisor can give you a better idea of their years of experience, areas of expertise, and educational background, which can give you the confidence you need to trust their financial advice.
4. Continuously Educate Yourself
Even if you hire a financial advisor to make decisions on your behalf, it’s prudent to remain educated. An educated client will be able to better contextualize financial advice and make wise decisions.
We recommend asking questions, subscribing to newsletters, scheduling frequent check-ins, and requesting a second opinion when you’re not sure about a decision, so you can feel comfortable that you have all the background when you’re given a financial advising perspective.
Should Physicians Have a Financial Advisor?
The more complex your financial situation the more you’ll stand to benefit from a financial advisor. Many physicians are employees with a single stream of income and employer-provided benefits, like health coverage, disability insurance, and retirement savings.
In this case, physicians should feel empowered to educate themselves and manage their finances on their own.
However, we understand that physicians work long hours and lead busy lives. Finances aren’t always the most attractive chore to maintain, so it can be helpful to outsource the labor to someone you trust.
If you would rather have a financial advisor help you get on top of your savings, optimize your cash flow, plan for retirement, or any other long-term financial goals, we recommend the following:
- Choose a fee-only advisor: Fee-only advisors won’t make additional money based on the products they recommend, so you can trust the financial advice is unbiased.
- Opt for a flat fee: Flat fee advisors won’t send you an unexpected bill or raise your rates when your assets rise.
- Check credentials and confirm fiduciary responsibility: Many financial planners and advisors will list letters next to their name to signify their credentials. Review these credentials and confirm they hold a fiduciary responsibility when they make choices on your behalf.