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New study: Physicians with retirement plans far outpace their peers on savings

MD Financial Management’s newly released MD Physician Retirement Readiness Study on the state of physician retirement readiness finds that while half of physicians reported not having a specific plan for retirement, those who do are more likely to have saved a substantial nest egg ($2 million or more). The study, which focuses on Canadian physicians (both general practitioners and specialists) over the age of 40, shows a significant difference in savings between physicians who had a plan in place before age 50, and those who did not. 
“This is significant,” says Stephen Hunt, MD Financial Management’s National Lead on Financial Planning Advice, “The data show that, for many physicians, amount saved is a deciding factor in terms of when to retire. We know that, ultimately, many variables are going to come into play. But having a financial plan may be one of the big differences between someone who works for only as long as they want and someone who works much longer,” explains Hunt, who has provided financial counsel to physicians for more than 22 years.   
Retirement anxiety a silent epidemic among physicians 
While many physicians are well prepared for retirement, MD’s study also found that a sizeable proportion struggle with financial pressures as they near retirement age. 
  • 20% worry about making ends meet month-to-month
  • 49% are finding it hard to save for retirement
  • two in three worry about unexpected expenses impacting their financial plans
Financial anxiety is particularly acute for those age 40–50, those who have children living at home, and/or those struggling with consumer debt or mortgages. 
“People may be surprised to learn that physicians are anxious about their finances and struggling with saving for retirement, but this study confirms what we hear from our clients,” says Julie Petrera, National Lead, Financial Planning Content and Signature Strategy, at MD. “I hope this research helps people know that they aren’t alone. They can talk about it. They can do something about it.”
The difference a plan makes
“What we can say with certainty is having a retirement plan matters,” Hunt says, adding that this is especially true for those under 50. “In those two decades before retirement, when you are juggling multiple financial demands and pressures, it may be hard to know where retirement should rank in terms of your priorities, or how to save accordingly.” That’s exactly why having a plan is so important, Hunt says. 
“The shift to retirement isn’t just financial, it’s emotional and psychological too,” Hunt says, “especially for people like physicians whose work can come to define their meaning and value.”
As well as committing a retirement plan to paper, Hunt suggests that physicians do the following: 
  • Identify the emotional and/or practical supports they will need from family and friends in retirement.
  • Think in concrete terms about how they will spend their time, whether that’s volunteering or travelling or pursuing their passions.
  • Have a plan for the unexpected, including family emergencies or changes to their health or mobility.
“If this study tells us anything, it’s this: those who plan earlier do better,” Hunt says. And that matters, he says, not just in terms of savings, but in terms of peace of mind. “At MD, we’ve been helping physicians retire for a very long time — half a century. Our best advice holds true: plan for it.”
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 over the age of 40 and working full time. The online study was carried out by Environics Research between August 12 and September 4, 2018, with 402 physicians participating. The e-book is available online at
About MD Financial Management
With 50 years of physician-focused experience, MD has one main goal: to help Canada’s physicians achieve financial well-being.
MD has more than $49 billion in assets under administration and is dedicated to serving Canada’s physicians and their families. MD provides financial products and services, the MD Family of Funds and investment counselling services through the MD Group of Companies. For a detailed list of these companies, visit
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