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November 08, 2021

Physician Financial Independence

In Episode 9 of the Financial Checkup, Dr. Paul Healey, a member of the Advantages Retirement Plan™ Investment Committee, talks about Physician Financial Independence. He and his wife, Dr. Jane Healey, cofounded the growing online community where Canadian physicians teach each other about saving, investing, and how to use money to achieve happiness.

OMA Insurance has partnered with Common Wealth, the administration and technology partner for the award-winning Advantages Retirement Plan™, to bring you The Financial Checkup, which features top financial questions and retirement stories from your fellow physicians.



Dr. Paul Healey: In medicine, we're always trying to make sure that we're doing something that's evidence-based, that is correct, and that benefits people. And I think with personal finance, it's the same thing, it's just spreading something that is true.

Speaker 2: Welcome to The Financial Checkup, a podcast series devoted to improving the financial health and retirement readiness of physicians and their spouses or common law partners. This series is brought to you by the award-winning Advantages Retirement Plan from OMA Insurance.

Alex Mazer: I'm Alex Mazer.

Jonathan Weisstub: And I'm Jonathan Weisstub.

Alex Mazer: We're the co-founders of Commonwealth, a mission driven business that works with associations, unions, and employers to provide collective retirement plans, including the advantages of retirement plan for Ontario physicians.

Dr. Paul Healey: My name is Dr. Paul Healey, and I'm an emergency physician, co-founder of the physician and financial independence online community with my wife, Dr. Jane Healey. I'm also a member of the investment committee for the Advantages Retirement Plan.

Jonathan Weisstub: This series is for educational purposes and should not be considered investment, tax, financial or other professional advice.

Speaker 2: The views or opinions expressed by the presenters are solely their own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the OMA OMA insurance or the Advantages Retirement Plan.

Jonathan Weisstub: What motivated you and your wife, Dr. Jane Healey, to tackle the issue of personal finance and start the physician financial independence group?

Dr. Paul Healey: This has always been our thing, this is something that we enjoyed. And for me, anyway, it started off with, I overhear discussions in the physician's lounge from physicians, about oh, their financial advisor's great and how I made 9% last year on my investments and going on and on about them and I would just be very quiet about it and I would not say anything and I'd say, well, does he really know what he's paying in fees? And does he really know that the S&P 500 returned to 13% this year? Why is his advisory only making 9%? And so I started to just get tired of seeing my friends and my colleagues getting ripped off.

And so I was like, "Well, hey, have you ever thought about this? And do you really know what's going on?" But the problem is that I would try and maybe have this conversation with people I knew about, "Do you know, your financial advisor may not really be looking out for you". And with some people, their relationship with their financial advisor is like their relationship with their spouse, you may know someone who is married to the wrong person, but you can't really approach them and say, "Hey, your spouse, they're not quite right", it's just not something you can do and have a one-on-one conversation. And a lot of people see their financial advisor in that same way, they really like them as a person and they see them as really looking out for them.

And so we started this as a way for people to learn that was non-threatening, like, "Hey, have you read this book?", and we originally started it as we thought it would be a book club, which is a very 1990s idea, which didn't work. And people said, "Well, we just can't get together, can you move it online?" And then it just got very popular and people started to learn and share the ideas on buy and hold investing, low cost investing, being frugal, and the ideas just caught on. And we've really enjoyed it and it's offered us a lot of neat opportunities to meet a lot of people, and pre-COVID, we were flying across the country and giving talks and it was a lot of fun.

So that's how we started doing it and we do it just because we enjoy it and I think that it's filling an important niche because this is not a business for us, it's just an opportunity to be collegial and share information with our colleagues. And I think that we've really filled out this niche of people who are not biased, who are not shilling for the financial industry and are just giving you their honest opinion about what you should do with your money. And so we like that role, we've enjoyed that.

Jonathan Weisstub: I've seen survey results that indicate that only about 20% of physicians in Ontario feel ready for retirement and it goes to this need for information, need for help. You've seen that obviously in the growth of the group to 20,000 members, why do you think the community struggles so much with all of this stuff?

Dr. Paul Healey: Well, 20% feel that they're not ready for retirement, I would say a lot of that reflects people just not thinking about it at all. They don't feel ready because they just haven't thought about it, they haven't taken the time to look at it and get their ducks in a row. I think that they unfortunately leave that too late, I think a lot of people don't start to really think about their retirement until they're in their fifties, really you should be starting to think about your retirement as soon as you start to make money, as soon as you're in your late twenties, early thirties. And not even necessarily think about retirement, but thinking about your financial wellbeing, the idea of being financially independent, that needs to start early.

A lot of that is going to just be awareness and I think that's changing. Our group, people talk about this frequently, there's a lot of interest in our group about talking about these issues, about getting ready, about how to invest. So I think it's changing because the core ideas are getting traction, people have found other people that they trust that they can get the straight information from the people that don't have a financial bias and in this information asymmetry in keeping you unaware of the fees you're paying. So I think that those ideas are gaining traction.

Jonathan Weisstub: Yeah, which is terrific. It's an incredible service, an incredible gift in a way to be able to help people to change their lives in that way. Is there a fair amount of, in a way, discussion of that among the members of your group?

Dr. Paul Healey: This is one thing that's been a surprise to Jane and I, the messages that we get that from people that are just so positive and so enthusiastic, and we never really anticipated this, this whole concept of someone saying, "Well, this really changed my life and I feel so much more confident and I have this under control", it's something we just really didn't expect, this is just-

Alex Mazer: But it's Facebook-

Jonathan Weisstub: But it's got to be amazingly gratifying in a way.

Dr. Paul Healey: It's shockingly to us, yeah and it's been part of the motivation for why we keep doing it. It feels like it's working, and when you're doing something and it feels like it's working, then it's motivation to keep doing it. So yeah, it has been really gratifying in a way that we really didn't expect, we never thought it would be this.

Jonathan Weisstub: Yeah. And what do you think is possible in a way for physicians?

Dr. Paul Healey: This is the thing about being a physician, let's be honest, you have a very good income that is relatively secure and if you're someone who's frugal and you save, the sky's the limit for you as far as options, as far as what do you want to do. Do you want to retire in your early forties and practice medicine in the third world, just because it's something that's gratifying? Do you want to leave medicine and become a writer or do something else? Those options are all available to you. Do you want to just keep practicing medicine and maybe just do the parts you don't like? It's really incredible.

 And as a physician, with our incomes and the fact that you have an education, you're able to master a body of knowledge, when you spend these handful of hours, you really give yourself an incredible number of life options. By investing early, doing it at low cost, you have a huge number of options very early in your life. You want to go just travel the world? Well, when COVID's gone, maybe you can, but that's all possible.

Jonathan Weisstub: And so in a lot of ways, it's all about for you, both helping, but also helping people to see what actually works and understanding in the way, the privilege of the job and financial situation that they have and applying a handful of rules to helping them to create that financial independence?

Dr. Paul Healey: Yeah. The other thing is about being evidence based and things that are true, which we always try and do in medicine. We're always trying to make sure that we're doing something that's evidence based, that is correct and that benefits people. And I think with personal finance, it's the same thing, it's just spreading something that is true, something that has evidence for it, something that is correct and something that will benefit people. And the other thing is physicians are, I also hope too, that once you reach the level where you are financially independent, I think physicians will also do things that are very positive for the rest of the world. When you have money, whether you're at philanthropic, you want to help your community, you want to make sure that your children and your grandchildren are set up in a way, I think that these are all really positive things that physicians will do. It's not just about you and what you can do, you can do something else that's really good for other people.

Alex Mazer: What, what would you say are your and Jane's hopes for the future of the Physician Financial Independence community?

Dr. Paul Healey: I just, I really like what it is right now, it's a community of people that share information that keep the quality of the information high. I don't necessarily think that it has to be huge, I'm not looking to grow the group more, I just want to keep the quality exactly where it is. Where you can post a question and get very good answers that are evidence based, that are going to help you in real time. And I think all I want is for it to continue to be what it is right now, where it meets the needs of a group of people and makes their lives better.

Jonathan Weisstub: Thanks for listening to the financial checkup.

Dr. Paul Healey: If you're a Canadian physician, join the Physician Financial Independence group on Facebook to learn more about saving and investing.

Alex Mazer: For physicians in Ontario, check out the Advantages Retirement Plan at

Speaker 2: The Financial Checkup series is produced in collaboration with OMA Insurance and Commonwealth, the administration and technology partner for the Advantages Retirement Plan.