Skip to main content

4 in 10 physicians find it hard to save for retirement due to expenses

New survey also reveals that a quarter of pre-retirement physicians do not know or are uncertain about the level of assets needed to retire comfortably

Nearly half of physicians between the ages of 40 and 60 find it hard to save for retirement due to expenses, reveals the 2021 MD Physician Retirement Readiness Study released today by MD Financial Management Inc. (MD).

Physicians start their careers with a longer-than-average 10- to 15-year education and training period, which is often financed by debt. In turn, they begin their practice later in life. This later start to their career has complex lifelong implications for their finances, in terms of both income and expenses, with a direct impact on their ability to save. Among other expenses, physicians, who are mostly self-employed in Canada, have to self-fund time away from work.

The survey also finds that a quarter of physicians do not know or are uncertain about the level of assets needed to retire comfortably, which can be explained by the complexity of physician families’ finances. This proportion rises to 37% for female physicians.

“On top of paying down debt incurred in training, physicians need to pay for homes and save for retirement in a much shorter period of time than most Canadians,” says Stephen Hunt, MD’s National Lead on Financial Planning Advice. “Saving for retirement is extra important for physicians since they don’t usually have a work-related pension plan to rely on.”

However, physicians lack visibility into their future and their retirement: they are not able to save as they would like to because of expenses, they don’t know how much they need for a comfortable retirement, and they often face a complex financial situation.

The pandemic has further blurred physicians’ visibility into how prepared they are for retirement:

  • Four in 10 physicians (38%) agreed the pandemic has affected their finances and are worried about its impact on their retirement.
  • Nearly one in five (18%) have delayed their retirement date and savings contributions.

Adding visibility through planning

Consistent with this added uncertainty, the second highest financial priority for 91% of surveyed physicians is ensuring that money doesn’t run out in retirement.

“This is where planning brings significantly more visibility and improves the ability to save,” says Hunt. “A properly crafted plan can not only help with the assessment of the appropriate level of assets for a comfortable retirement, but also help physicians and their families stay on track and keep their visibility intact over time.”

A plan, which helps anticipate expenses, can also empower physicians and their families to better navigate their finances once they have reached their retirement years. In that regard, planning how to draw down retirement income is an important financial priority for 80% of physicians. It is particularly top of mind for physicians 60 and over.


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 40 years old or older and working full time. The online study was carried out by Environics Research on behalf of MD between March 7 and April 6, 2021, with 401 physicians participating. The previous survey was conducted between August 12 and September 4, 2018.


About MD Financial Management Inc.
With more than 50 years of physician-focused experience, MD Financial Management Inc. (MD) is dedicated to providing financial peace of mind to Canada’s physicians and their families, so they can enjoy what matters most to them while achieving their career and life goals. MD had more than $59 billion in assets under management as of September 30, 2021. MD Management Limited was the first of the MD Group of Companies to be founded, in 1969. MD Financial Management Inc. wholly owns or has a majority interest in its seven subsidiaries (the MD Group of Companies). It provides financial products and services, is the fund manager for the MD Family of Funds and offers investment counselling services. For a detailed list of the MD Group of Companies, visit


For media enquiries, please contact:

Yali N’Diaye
Communications Manager
MD Financial Management Inc.
367 995-8877