More sweet than sour in Budget 2017

Posted by Matt Connor on 10 May 2017
More sweet than sour in Budget 2017

Far from the bitter pill of previous years, the 2017 budget has more in common with children's cough syrup -  pleasant enough (if a little sickly sweet), but with an unmistakeable strangeness that's hard to identify.
So what does it all mean for medical professionals? It's a mixed bag, but on balance the news is mostly good. In fact, Chartered Accountants have even described it as a budget that positions the government for a possible early election.

So let's start with the bad news.

 

BAD - increased Medicare Levy

Funding certainty for the NDIS is certainly admirable, but using a 0.5 percent increase to the Medicare Levy is fairly blunt way to do it. For higher incomes earners the removal of the Temporary Budget Repair Levy from 1 July will offer some tax relief.

 

GOOD -  Medicare rebates

Groundhog Day is over! After a four year freeze the government is finally increasing Medicare rebates. That means more money back to patients and more money flowing through to doctors. Win win.

 

GOOD - capital assets write off

In an unexpected bonus the government has extended the $20,000 capital assets write off for small businesses for another year. That means if you didn't get around to upgrading your computer system or replacing surgery equipment, there's still time. There's no guarantee Mr Morrison will be quite so generous next year so it's a good time to assess your practice's needs.

 

GOOD -  help for first home buyers

The ability to salary sacrifice to save for a first home deposit is a real boon for many early career medical professionals. The housing market might still be hotter than a Colourbond roof in January, but this measure at least makes scraping together a down payment a little easier.

 

EVEN -  deductions for investment properties

Under pressure from many to reform negative gearing, the government has chosen to the give the system a slight trim, rather than a haircut. The deductions that will no longer be available to property investors aren't anything to get too worried about (as far as expenses go, nothing comes close to rivalling bank interest) however, it is still prudent to make sure you're not counting on a now-banned deduction.

If you're looking for more detail on the winners and losers from this year's budget the ABC have produced an outstanding infographic you can view online here.

But of course, if you're looking for specific advice about your personal circumstances, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.
Posted in: News Tax Budget   0 Comments

Playing interest rate chicken

Posted by Sean O'Kane on 4 May 2017
Playing interest rate chicken

 

It's a classic scene from James Dean's iconic movie, Rebel Without a Cause: two alpha males in hotted up cars driving towards a cliff. Whoever jumps first is the chicken. The trick is knowing when to make your move, so you don't end up plunging into the ocean like Jimmy's rival!

It often feels like you're playing a similar game watching interest rates drop. If you've got a mortgage, when do you flinch?

 

Is this as good as it gets?


The first thing everyone wants to know is, will interest rates go any lower? While there's no way to know for certain the answer is, probably not. The current Reserve Bank cash rate is 1.5 percent - the lowest it has been in more than 40 years. While it is possible rates could go lower, most economists believe we have now bottomed out and the next movement - when it comes - will be up.

 

Does it even matter?


The short answer is no. Even if rates were to be cut by another quarter percent, the current rate of 1.5 percent is extraordinarily low and represents a huge opportunity for mortgage holders. There's very little to be gained by holding on for the possibility of another rate cut - it's time to jump out of the car!

 

What should mortgage holders do?


The greatest opportunity mortgage holders have is to pay off large chunks of their principal while the interest component is relatively small. To do this, you have to resist the temptation posed by Splurge Fever and pour as much surplus cash as possible into your loan. Doing this will mean you'll be in a much stronger position when interest rates start to move north - and they will! It's only a matter of when.

The other thing to consider is fixing a portion of your loan as a hedge again further rate rises. What percentage you choose to fix is a discussion you should have with your financial planner, based on your individual goals and what level of risk you are prepared to accept.

 

A once in two generations opportunity!


Interest rates this low are extremely rare. While the fact it's been 40 years since they were last this low doesn't mean it will be another four decades before we see these conditions again, it does mean it's extremely rare. The smart move is to take every advantage possible of such a unique set of economic circumstances. Don't end up plunging into the deep, dark Californian ocean!

Posted in: News Wealth Creation Budget Financial planning Planning Mortgages Financial independence Risk management   0 Comments

Become a part of our new home!

Posted by Medical Financial Group on 22 March 2017
Become a part of our new home!

We recently moved into our new office in Fortitude Valley, just down the road from our old base.

We're in the process of finalising our interior fitout and we'd like to invite you to be a part of it. A glass wall in our office will shortly be covered in an opaque film and we'd like to cover it with words to inspire us.

Our passion is helping you plan for financial independence, but we want to hear about what your passions are. We'd like to invite you to submit three words that describe what you're passionate about via this survey form. It can be anything you like! Whatever gets your juices flowing.

On 27 March we'll close the survey and use a selection of the submitted words on our new wall. It's your chance to genuinely make your mark on our new office!

Posted in: News   0 Comments

Splurge fever - the silent financial killer

Posted by Sean O'Kane on 7 February 2017
Splurge fever - the silent financial killer

So you've finally finished your medical specialty. The long nights of study are over (for now!) and you've got a shiny collection of new letters after your name. And of course, along with those letters goes a bigger pay packet. Time to reward yourself for all that hard work and start living a life of luxury, right? Well, maybe not...

 

Can you feel your financial temperature rising?

Unfortunately a little extra income often brings with it a damaging illness. Fluids won't help and paracetamol is useless. It's splurge fever, the almost uncontrollable urge to make lifestyle purchases now that you've got a little extra coin.

Splashing out on holidays, fancy gadgets, expensive clothes, even upgrading your car or home can all be symptoms. And if you're not careful they can quickly add up to a cracking financial headache.

So what can you do?

 

There is a cure!

The good news is splurge fever is easily treated. The bad news is the best cure is prevention (what, isn't there a pill I can take???). And in the world of finance when we're talking about prevention, what we mean is planning.

There's no reason why your extra income can't mean rewarding yourself or even looking at upgrading your home or car, as long as it's part of a planned, well-managed process.

 

How to fight the fever

The biggest financial danger for new specialists is uncertainty. Yes, you will likely be earning more money. The big question is how much more? Unfortunately many new specialists overestimate their new income and commit to spending that becomes like a weight around their neck.

It might not be as exciting as splashing out on a new private movie room for your house, but my advice to new specialists is to follow a four-stage process for approaching this new stage of their career:

  1. Have patience - delay making any big financial decisions until you're established as a specialist and have a clearer idea of what your long-term average income is likely to be.
  2. Set goals - understand clearly what you want to achieve financially and what the costs are.
  3. Consider all possibilities - model different financial scenarios with realistic returns to see the bigger picture and assist with decision-making.
  4. Make a plan - develop a financial strategy to get you where you want to be over time.
With a small dose of planning and an injection of self-discipline, you can avoid falling victim to splurge fever.
Posted in: Wealth Creation Budget Financial planning Planning Financial independence Risk management   0 Comments

Help! My Practice Manager just walked out!

Posted by Mary Young on 23 January 2017
Help! My Practice Manager just walked out!

Your practice is finally where your dreamed it would be, way back when you first started it. A loyal base of regular patients, an excellent reputation and a great team of doctors providing outstanding patient care.

Things are going so well you can even afford a Practice Manager - and it turns out, they're fantastic too! They take care of everything. Suppliers, accounts, administration, IT, staffing - all the things that used to distract you from focussing on patients and developing your junior doctors. You rely on them for everything.

And then one day they're gone...

It doesn't matter why. All that matters is that the practice that used to run like a formula one racer, is now spluttering like a clapped out old Commodore. What do you do?

The reality is, it's always hard to replace a good Practice Manager - that's why they're so valuable. But there are ways to ensure your practice is able to keep functioning if you suddenly lose the one person you rely on for everything. And the first part of that is don't rely on one person for everything!

Make sure there's a backup

Few practices have the resources to employ a Deputy Practice Manager, but you can ensure that as many essential tasks as possible are covered by at least two people. When discussing practice procedures with your Practice Manager, insist that at least one other person has a thorough understanding of all their essential responsibilities. You can't clone your Practice Manager, but you can ensure backup for all the things that keep your practice running.

Have a good procedures manual

A good Practice Manager will be able to document the key elements of their role. This isn't just important if they suddenly decide to backpack through South America for 12 months if your Practice Manager has a serious illness or needs to deal with a family emergency, it's important that other staff have an easy-to-understand guide that allows them to pick up the ball. And that means it's also important to

Have a formal contingency plan

It's not out of line to insist there's a specific plan in place to deal with the absence of your Practice Manager in fact, it's just good business. Your Practice Manager should be able to produce a strategy to deal with their temporary absence and even facilitate a smooth handover to a new person in the role. It's also critical that this strategy isn't just something they've discussed with you it's needs to be documented in explicit detail.

Use quality software

Good practice management software isn't cheap, but it's a vital investment. If your Practice Manager is suddenly out of action, the right software can help smooth the transition to a new staffing set up. A good software program will maintain patient records, billings and receipting, and will be very intuitive for new users.

A good Practice Manager can help take your business to the next level. And when you find that special person it's natural to entrust them with the essentials of running of your practice. But it's critical that you always plan for the worst-case scenario and that means ensuring that no one in your practice is irreplaceable.
 

Posted in: News Owning a medical surgery Profitable practice Staffing Planning Risk management   0 Comments

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The information on this site is of a general nature. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration, so you should look at your own financial position, objectives and requirements and seek financial advice before making any financial decisions.

The financial planning services are provided by Medical Financial Pty Ltd trading as Medical Financial Planning (AFSL 506557)