Skip to main content

Nervous about retirement? Three small steps to get your retirement plan up and running

Mature man in pinstripe suit signing documents.

If you’re a physician who is thinking about and planning for your retirement, you might be experiencing “retirement anxiety,” or concern about whether you’re doing enough to adequately prepare for the years after you leave active practice.

MD Financial Management’s MD Physician Retirement Readiness Study revealed that many physicians feel well prepared for retirement, but a sizable minority struggle with financial pressures and feelings of financial uncertainty as retirement approaches. About half say they have a general notion of where they’re going in retirement but have no specific plans in place.

Retirement represents a significant life transition, and feelings of worry are common among physicians contemplating retirement. The key is to translate those feelings into specific actions to help you get ready for this transition. Here are three steps you can take today to help you prepare for retirement and retire with confidence.

1. Identify specific goals to anchor your retirement plans in reality

A lack of concrete goals — such as a target retirement age — can be a source of retirement anxiety. One antidote is to clarify your retirement goals and desires. This can be as simple as creating a list of retirement goals and putting them in order of importance.

Keep in mind that your goals for retirement should cover more than just your finances, as retirement represents a whole new chapter of life. Involve your life partner in this step to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

For example, you’ll need to identify when you want to start transitioning to retirement and how you want to spend your time once you’re there. You should also think about the financial and other goals you want to achieve before retirement, while you are still practising. Additionally, you may want to consider and plan for how you might transition your practice to another physician.

By identifying specific personal goals, you are starting to create your own personal vision of retirement. This vision will help anchor your plans for the new phase of life that retirement represents and will allow you to plan accordingly.

2. Ignoring financial problems won’t make them go away — so talk about them with a professional

While sketching out the retirement you’re hoping for, questions and concerns will inevitably pop up — this is normal and nothing to be alarmed about. Take note and prepare yourself to talk about them. The next step is to put concrete plans in place to help ensure that you achieve your goals, get answers to outstanding questions and alleviate your concerns.

Although a retirement plan is just one part of an overall financial plan, physicians with tangible retirement plans are much more likely to report that they’re confident in their ability to retire comfortably.

A tangible retirement plan will identify when you expect to retire, how much you expect to spend in retirement, and how much you will have saved to support your lifestyle in retirement, as well as the specific strategies you’ll employ to help ensure that those goals are accomplished.

In preparing for retirement, most physicians seek professional support and, when they do, most report feeling well-served by their primary sources of financial advice. A professional can provide valuable advice, insights and perspectives that you may have missed or may not have been aware of. If you’re struggling with feelings of retirement anxiety, getting a pro on your side can be a clear and productive choice. They’ll be able to help pinpoint the specific actions you can take to meet your goals, as well as evaluate which strategies can best set you up for success.

3. Take it one step at a time — your plan won’t happen overnight

The last piece of the puzzle to remedying retirement anxiety is to make sure your plan is implemented over time. This means checking in on your progress toward your goals as outlined in the plan, and making any adjustments required to ensure continued success. “Life happens” and changes will need to be made — and that’s okay. Steady guidance and advice from a financial professional can provide the support you may need to bring your retirement vision to life.

In addition to developing a detailed plan for your retirement, there are other actions you can take to help you feel prepared for retirement in the years leading up to retirement.

For example, physicians who follow their investments from time to time are also more likely to feel equipped in all dimensions of planning for retirement, even the non-financial elements. Physicians with concrete financial plans are also more likely to report that they have an up-to-date will and power of attorney and have considered other aspects such as insurance, tax and estate planning.

At MD, we’ve been helping physicians with their financial plans for retirement since 1969. Our specialists offer objective advice, comprehensive financial planning and solutions tailored to your specific needs. For personalized advice that can help to create the retirement you desire, please speak with an MD Advisor*.

Source: Environics Research, MD Physician Retirement Readiness Study, 2018

* MD Advisor refers to an MD Management Limited Financial Consultant or Investment Advisor (in Quebec), or an MD Private Investment Counsel Portfolio Manager.

The above information should not be construed as offering specific financial, investment, foreign or domestic taxation, legal, accounting or similar professional advice nor is it intended to replace the advice of independent tax, accounting or legal professionals.