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The Top 5 Reasons Physicians Donít Accumulate  Substantial Wealth

By Michael Zhuang | July 15, 2011


Thomas Stanley, the author of "The Millionaire Next Door," coined two terms: Prodigious Accumulator of Wealth (PAW) and Under Accumulator of Wealth (UAW). Here is how he defines them:

Take your income from all sources, multiple by your age, and divide by 10. Let‚ís call the number X. If your total net worth is less than half of X, you are  a UAW. If your total net worth is twice X, you are a PAW. Now you can do the exercise yourself and determine if you are a UAW or PAW.

What Stanley found that should serve as an alarm to all doctors is this: For every one doctor in the PAW group, there are two in the UAW. This leads him to conclude that among all high-income groups, doctors have the least tendency to accumulate substantial wealth.

This finding is not at all surprising to me. My wealth management practice focuses on physicians, so Iíve seen this happen firsthand.

Here are the top five reasons I think physicians donít accumulate substantial  wealth:

1. They start making good money later in life. Medical school takes years and  a lot of money; after that, there is residency. By the time they can practice on  their own, they are in their late 30s, while their C+ classmates who went into sales have been making money for 10 years.
2. They have to live a lifestyle that befits a doctor, which usually means big houses and luxury cars.
3. They  are very busy. After work and family, they have no time left to take care of  finances.
4. They think they can do it all by themselves.
5. Unlike  successful entrepreneurs, they canít sell their practices for good money.

Numbers 1 and 5 are impossible to overcome; they are the nature of the beast.  However, 2 through 4 are within a doctorís control.

If you can make the following adjustments, substantial wealth is not beyond  your reach.

1. Live a lifestyle within your means.
2. Focus on what you do best and delegate the rest. John Bowen, my practice coach, likes to say: Focus on bringing home the big check
3. Dedicate at least one hour per month to family finances. Stanley has found that people who do that are far more likely to be PAW.

If you do not have the inclination to do 3, you should delegate that to a  highly educated, trust-worthy financial advisor. Since this is so crucial, my next post will shed some light on the financial advisor business and how to evaluate financial advisors.

Michael Zhuang is the founder and principal of MZ Capital  Management, a Washington, D.C.-based investment advisor firm, offering financial  planning, investment advisory and wealth management services.

Reproduced with the permission of Physicans Practice. Copyright (c) 2010 Physicians Practice Inc. www.physicianspractice.com All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Physicians Practice content, including by framing, is prohibited without prior written consent. Physicians Practice shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon

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