physician retirement calculator

Financial Planning

Physician Retirement Savings: 5 Strategies to Make It Last

Published July 16, 2023

There are several proven strategies that can help your physician retirement savings last longer to better ensure a comfortable retirement.

Deciding when to retire is always a personal choice, one that has to deal with a number of unknowns. Chief among these is “How long will my retirement actually be?” 

Although no one can look into a crystal ball and predict this, fortunately, there are several proven strategies that can help retirement savings last longer to better ensure a comfortable retirement. Let’s take a look at five of these strategies below.

Are you a physician with concerns about your retirement savings? Our advisors at Earned can assist you in assessing your finances and devising a saving and investment strategy that aligns with your needs. Contact us today.

how to maximize retirement savings

Strategy #1: Goal-based Investing

People tend to save or accumulate wealth in order to fund future life goals. For example, their goals may include generating a livable income throughout retirement. However, traditional asset allocation methodologies ignore risks associated with future goals, like inflation, and focus solely on the risks of the underlying assets. 

In contrast, goal-based investing considers the risk attributes of an investor’s goals when constructing a portfolio. This approach aims to hedge the risks faced by retirees. It potentially increases the probability of sustaining inflation-adjusted retirement income for life.

Goal-based investing also considers an investor’s total wealth. This is a combination of human capital (a physician’s future potential savings), income sources (Social Security and pension benefits), and financial assets. 

The total wealth framework helps determine a physician's risk capacity, which is the physician’s financial ability to assume risk. Traditional client risk measurements are generally subjective and focus primarily on a client’s willingness to take on risk, not their capacity to assume risk. 

By considering both risk willingness and capacity, goal-based investing matches a physician’s total wealth to future funding needs, resulting in strategies designed to help improve financial outcomes.

Strategy #2: Smart Asset Location

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) treats various types of retirement accounts differently. For instance, some accounts are taxable and others, like 401(k)s and traditional IRAs, are tax-deferred — meaning the retiree will pay an income tax only when they begin to withdraw funds from the account.

By the same token, different assets are taxed differently depending on a number of different factors. Some bonds are tax-free, while others aren’t. Additionally, equities with long-term capital gains are taxed significantly less than equities with short-term capital gains.

Optimal asset location involves matching tax-efficient assets with taxable accounts and assets with greater tax drag to accounts that are tax-deferred. Intentionally matching these assets to favorable account types can help physicians in managing their tax liability and support the longevity of their retirement savings.

Strategy #3: Better tax-loss harvesting

To piggyback on strategy #2, combining smart asset location with tax-loss harvesting strategies within taxable accounts reduces tax burdens over time.

Tax-loss harvesting involves selling certain securities at a loss to offset taxes on capital gains elsewhere in the saver’s portfolio.

Traditionally, financial advisors did this at year end for their clients. However, technology has made it possible that this process can be ongoing and automated. Placing a closer eye on daily market movements to capitalize on tax-loss harvesting opportunities year round helps maximize after-tax returns.

If you’re a physician with various taxable accounts and want to make your savings last throughout your retirement, speak with our team of advisors at Earned today.

Strategy #4: Optimized Withdrawals

When exactly retirees withdraw their money from their accounts (and how they sequence those withdrawals from multiple accounts) can also impact how long retirement savings might last. Again, avoiding unnecessary tax implications is the goal here.

Optimal income sourcing requires making intelligent choices about the sequence of withdrawals from taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-free accounts. Traditionally, best practices in generating retirement income suggest withdrawing assets in the following order:

  1. Required minimum distributions (RMDs) from tax-advantaged accounts (if any)

  2. From taxable accounts

  3. From tax-deferred accounts

  4. From tax-free accounts

However, deviating from this exact ordering to balance reducing the current tax liability with minimizing taxes over the entire retirement period may help extend portfolio longevity.

For example, prior best practices normally waited to liquidate tax-deferred account assets until taxable assets were drained. For some investors, this approach could push them into higher tax brackets in later years. This is because tax-deferred account distributions are taxed at higher ordinary income rates.

However, evenly sourcing income between taxable and tax-deferred accounts may reduce a physician’s overall tax liability. This is another reason to deviate from the traditional withdrawal ordering is to minimize estate taxes. For certain investors, limiting distributions from taxable accounts allows them to take advantage of the favorable step-up in basis treatment of bequests.

how to maximize retirement savings

Strategy #5: Maximum Social Security Benefits

Every American has access to Social Security retirement benefits at the age of 62. They can delay receiving those benefits until they are 70. The timing of when you opt in to your Social Security benefits should be intentional. Additionally, it should be based on your overall financial situation. This is true of physicians and just about everyone else.

Recommended actions here vary depending on the health of the retiree. If the retiree has pre-existing health issues with a shorter life expectancy, most advisors recommend that they start receiving Social Security benefits as soon as they are able. In contrast, retirees in good health may want to hold off on receiving their benefits for as long as they’re able. This results in a larger monthly check later in life.

Marital status is also an important factor here. It’s common for couples to coordinate how and when they begin receiving Social Security benefits. They do this in order to maximize their income. Every household is different, but when the longevity of retirement savings is the concern, it may be smart to consider having:

  • The lower-earning spouse start taking benefits immediately (at age 62).

  • The higher-earning spouse delay their benefits as long as possible (until age 70).

Ensuring Your Physician Retirement Savings Will Last

Not every retirement savings strategy summarized here is right for everyone. Physicians who are looking to ensure that their savings last should speak to an advisor familiar with wealth management for doctors. Additionally, financial professionals can handle these complex strategies on behalf of their clients.

At Earned, our advisors have focus on physician wealth management. Our team is ready to help doctors make their physician retirement savings last. Do you want to start implementing these strategies or speak with an advisor regarding any financial outlook concerns as you near retirement? If so, our team is ready to help.

Set up a time to speak with an Earned advisor here to learn how to maximize your retirement savings.

This post was about how to make your physician retirement savings last. 

Earned Wealth (a DBA of NoHo Financial, Inc) is an SEC-registered investment adviser located in New York City, NY. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply a certain level of skill or training.Earned Wealth's website is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to its advisory services, together with access to additional investment-related information, publication, and links. All examples are for illustrative purposes only and may not be relied upon for investment decisions. The publication of Earned Wealth's website on the Internet should not be construed by any consumer and/or prospective client as Earned Wealth's solicitation or attempt to effect transactions in securities, or the rendering of personalized investment advice over the Internet.A copy of Earned Wealth's current written disclosure statement as set forth on Form ADV, discussing Earned Wealth's business operations, services, and fees is available from Earned Wealth upon written request. Additional Information about Earned Wealth and our advisors is also available online at Wealth does not make any representations as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability or completeness of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to or incorporated herein. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.We are neither your attorneys nor your accountants and no portion of this material should be interpreted by you as legal, accounting or tax advice. We recommend that you seek the advice of a qualified attorney and accountant.Investing involves market risk, including possible loss of principal and investment objectives are not guaranteed.






© 2024 Noho Financial Inc

30 Cooper Square, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10003

Investment advisory services offered through Earned Wealth, an SEC-registered investment adviser.