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How Physicians Think About Investing

doctors thinking about investing

In January 2024, Physician on Fire and Earned Wealth, a wealth management firm exclusively for physicians, put together a survey on physician financial wellness.

Earned and Physician on FIRE‘s first joint survey finds that most physicians invest in the stock market using traditional brokerage and retirement accounts. Real estate is also a popular investment option.

Nearly half of physicians surveyed (48.3%) said they make less than $50,000 annually from their current investments or other sources of income.

We asked 259 physicians across specialties nationwide about their investment goals, asset preferences, and savings habits.

The largest share of those surveyed were mid-career practicing physicians, followed by late-career practicing physicians. Here’s a quick overview of those who took the survey:

Key Findings

1. High investment appetite

earned survey responses

Nearly all physicians who took our survey already invest in some form, mostly through retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, or by owning their primary home.

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However, nearly half of the physicians surveyed said they earned less than $50,000 annually from their current investments or other sources of income.

earned survey responses

earned survey responses earned survey responses

Unsurprisingly, most physicians want to learn how to make their dollars go further, and they’re not shy about taking risks.

Over a third of those surveyed wanted to grow their investments with moderate risk, while an almost equal share said they were aiming for aggressive growth over the long term.

earned survey responses

2. Healthy savings habits

The survey found that a majority of physicians saved or invested more than 20% of their income annually.

For context, the average American’s personal savings rate (personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income) was less than 4% in January 2024, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

3. Willingness to explore new investment strategies

How did those surveyed plan on moving the needle on their investments?  68% percent expressed interest in learning about tax-smart investing strategies, while 85% of those with net worth in excess of $1 million wanted to know more about tax-smart strategies.

47% percent wanted a better handle on how to invest in real estate.

The majority of physicians surveyed reported having a basic to comprehensive understanding of investments. 

But of physicians who earned more than $400,000, only 13% rated themselves as having comprehensive investment knowledge. Of those interested in learning about tax-smart strategies, over 85% have a net worth of over $1 million.

earned survey responses

4. Physicians embrace tax-diversified investments

When it comes to investing, physicians overwhelmingly preferred contributing to employer-sponsored retirement accounts and investing in the stock market via brokerage accounts. 

Alternative investment options included owning a practice, commercial real estate, REITs, private equity, and cryptocurrency.

More than 70% of those surveyed also reported having a high cash balance of over $100,000.

earned survey responses

More than 14% of physicians said they invest over 80% of their net worth in the stock market, while 8% of those surveyed invest less than 20% of their net worth in the stock market.

More than half of those surveyed said up to 25% of their net worth was invested in real estate, excluding their primary home.  A share of those surveyed also put some money into private investments such as venture capital, private equity, or hedge funds. earned survey responses

 

5. Burnout is still a major concern

When asked about what changes they want to make over the next three to five years, many physicians said they want to cut back on hours, reduce their workload or time spent seeing patients, or quit medicine altogether. 

It may come as no surprise that burnout is an important factor in how physicians make their financial and investment decisions.

earned survey responses

Methodology

The joint Earned and Physician on FIRE survey was conducted online in January 2024 via the Physician on FIRE email list. Results were summarized by Amrita Jayakumar, a San Francisco-based writer and editor, with previous experience at the Washington Post and NerdWallet.



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