Posted in Wealth Creation

Are you planning your journey to financial independence?

Posted by Sean O'Kane on 1 October 2019
Are you planning your journey to financial independence?

Upon finishing their years of training, many medical specialists make hasty financial decisions that they live to regret (and that get in the way of their long-term financial success).

In our whitepaper, "Are you planning your journey to financial independence?" we identified key financial challenges faced by medical specialists. Chief among these is that practitioners are either complacent about the fact that they're now earning good money and therefore don't feel the need to adhere to a solid financial plan, or they're eager to finally enjoy the rewards of all their hard work and want to spend money now!

A good friend of mine, who's very successful, coined the phrase 'toy fever' to describe the urgent desire to make impulse, often expensive, lifestyle purchases the second there's some extra cash lying around.

One of the doctors we interviewed for our whitepaper said, "It's very tempting when you're surrounded by people on good incomes, driving around in new sports cars and living in multi-million dollar properties. It can be tricky to keep it real and live within my own capabilities and with my personal financial goals in mind, without getting caught up in what others are doing."

First of all, it's important to keep in mind that as a doctor you're in training for almost half your working life - much more than most other professions - and this puts you well behind many others on your journey towards building wealth and gaining financial independence.

Committing to new cars and an expensive house too soon after finishing your training can add unnecessary pressure, especially while you're trying to establish yourself as a specialist or a GP. What we see is that it usually takes a year or so to build a good idea of how things look financially and what you can reasonably expect your income to look like ongoing.

Our advice
If you're not careful, you can easily go from a situation where you're tight for money because you're in training, to one where you're tight for money because of the financial decisions you've made.

However, if you delay these important financial decisions to a point where you understand your pattern of income, especially if you're setting up in private practice, then you'll be in a much better position to make those decisions with confidence. This removes the stress caused by over-commitment and strengthens your ability to achieve financial independence.

In order to help you enhance your financial future, our team of financial planners advise you to:

  • delay making any big financial decisions until you've established yourself as a specialist/in private practice;
  • understand what your goals are and what they will cost to achieve;
  • model different financial scenarios with realistic returns to see the bigger picture and assist with decision-making; and
  • develop a financial strategy to get you where you want to be over time.

We can't overstate the importance of this topic, which is why we're hosting a small event next month which will touch on some strategies to help you manage your money effectively once you're training is over. The session will cover financial planning, lending, and real estate and vehicle purchases and will be a chance for new doctors to get some practical tips that will set them up for success.

You can read more about the event here and register.

If this sounds like you or you know someone who would benefit, please pass on.

Posted in: Wealth Creation Budget Financial planning Financial independence   0 Comments

The Royal Commission...

Posted by Neal Durling on 3 May 2018
The Royal Commission...

Like many I have been saddened to hear the Royal Commission have, again, uncovered a number of systemic "cloudy" advice practices where an advisers "best interests duty" requires something a little purer. 

This simple truth reminds me of why we chose to engage with clients the way we do 10 years ago, with annual opt in and flat dollar fees invoiced directly to clients.

As I set about writing a blog on a subject that many advisers find difficult, a valued client reminded me of why we do what we do. I think these words are more insightful than anything I can write and, I hope, demonstrates what a pure advice relationship should look like.

"I'm confirming I'd like to continue with your ongoing services. In the current context of the Royal Commission into banking highlighting the dangers of hidden percentage based fees for investments and self-managed super, your open, fixed fee service shines as an example of how it should be done!" Ben -  Cardiologist

Posted in: News Wealth Creation Financial planning   0 Comments

The missing middle of personal finance

Posted by Sean O'Kane on 29 January 2018
The missing middle of personal finance

There are only really three factors that contribute to achievement of your financial goals: what you earn, what you spend and what you do with the rest.

If you've completed your training your income should be reasonably stable and if you're getting professional financial advice what happens to "the rest" will be determined by a plan that may focus on investment, debt reduction or a combination of both.

That leaves what you spend.

I'm earning more but where is it going?

Having helped doctors with their finances for nearly 15 years, what I too often see is a habit of overspending that starts as incomes increase. This combined with not knowing where all the extra income is going has far reaching consequences.

Firstly, the sooner you start investing, the sooner you get what Albert Einstein called "the most powerful force in the universe" compounding returns on investments. And secondly, if you create a lifestyle that uses all of your income it will be impossible to reach financial independence.

The first step is awareness

Understanding what your fixed expenses are along with what you are spending on discretionary items is a good place to start. Importantly, this also provides a clear view of how much money will be left over each month that can be put to work through investment.

Exporting online bank statements into a spreadsheet provides a starting point for checking where your money goes. The problem with this method is that it's time intensive and doesn't easily track activity moving forward.

Once you have an idea of what you have spent by category, the next step is to have a plan of what you intend to spend going forward.

Run your household like your practice

Most practices use accounting platforms like Xero to track income, expenditure, assets and liabilities. If you have a good practice manager and the right tools they can easily tell you your practice's financial position in heartbeat. It's the only way to know your practice is running the way it should.

There's no reason why you can't run your personal finances the same way. Very soon Medical Financial will begin offering access to a platform that provides the same kind of insights as Xero, but for personal finances.

It will allow you to track your expenditure, understand where it's going and produce regular personal profit and loss statements. It can even track your change in net wealth via a personal balance sheet. And you will be pleased to know, that once set up, the time taken to keep on top of things will be around an hour a month. Armed with timely, relevant information about your finances you can start taking greater control.

Posted in: Wealth Creation Financial planning Planning Investment Financial independence   0 Comments

Another round of not so super reform

Posted by Sean O'Kane on 16 June 2017
Another round of not so super reform

After years of watching the Federal Government tinker with superannuation rules, most professionals in the industry have been pleading for the system to finally be left alone. By its very nature super is a long-term investment - it's hard to plan for the distant future when every year the government shifts the goalposts.

Unfortunately we're going to need to put a good bend on the ball again because in 2017/18 those posts are moving once more.

What should I be most worried about?

Without doubt the biggest concern for most medical professionals is the reduction in the cap on before-tax concessional contributions. This is a particular issue for professionals who are mid-career and still very much in wealth accumulation mode.

At the moment the cap is $30,000 if you're under 49 and $35,000 if you're over 49. From July 1, everyone's cap will be $25,000. Anyone who makes extra contributions through salary sacrificing for example, should speak to an adviser and take a look at how the changes will affect them.

This is a particularly urgent issue for anyone who hasn't used all of this year's cap as there's still time to put additional money in your account before the rules change.

What if I'm looking to retire soon?

Probably the biggest change for those near retirement is that there will now be a limit of $1.6 million that can be placed in income stream accounts.

If you have more than $1.6 million you can transfer the balance into an accumulation account or you might want to consider making a contribution to your spouse's account. There are a number of options available, but again it's important to speak to an expert who can provide advice on the best strategy for your individual circumstances.

Is there any good news?

Yes! If there's a small ray of light in the midst of all this gloom it's that from 1 July anyone can make a deductible super contribution - not just the self-employed. This will make it much easier for everyone to fully utilise concessional contribution allowances and get maximum tax benefits.

A good plan of attack

The unfortunate reality is that the changes to super that will begin next month are so wide-reaching that almost everyone will be affected in some way. The most important thing to do is take a holistic view of your investment strategy and what role super needs to play in it from 1 July.

It is absolutely still worth maximising your superannuation, but many people will also benefit from some strategic changes to their investment mix.

In short - get some professional advice and do it quickly.

Posted in: Tax Wealth Creation Budget Financial planning superannuation Planning Investment Financial independence Diversified portfolio   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
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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)