Physicians' investment secrets 

From artificial intelligence to blue-chip company investments, 12 physicians joined Becker's to share their key investment tips. 

Editor's note: This response was edited lightly for clarity and length. 

Taizoon Baxamusa, MD. Orthopedic Hand & Upper Extremity Surgeon at Illinois Bone & Joint Institute  (Morton Grove): I think for me the key investment tip has been to invest in myself and my business. As a physician in private practice, we have invested in our group as a business including ancillaries such as our real estate, physician therapy, MRI and outpatient surgery centers, which have yielded the best return on investment. Of course, maximizing any retirement contributions is the first priority to plan for the future. I would say for an employed physician, maximizing all retirement contributions including any available employer matching as well as investing in a low-cost diversified exchange-traded funds and starting as early as possible to take advantage of the power of compounding interest.

Robert Bray Jr., MD. Founder of DISC Sports & Spine Center (Newport Beach, Calif.): I have emphasized my investment portfolio on blue-chip companies managed by a highly competent financial advisor group, which has netted a consistent gain. Real estate, when carefully thought out, can turn at the right points. Beyond that, I invested in myself for intellectual property, and the ASC model. When I began over 25 years ago, I could not get a bank loan or contract to start. Be cautious with management companies. Although, after learning from missteps in the past, I am extremely happy with our current private equity partner. It’s a large commitment of time and passion, but building your own or part of a larger, well-run network is personally and financially rewarding.  

Kenneth Candido, MD, CEO and president of Chicago Anesthesia Associates:  These are my humble suggestions, based upon a lot of trial and error (mostly error):

1. Time in the market rather than timing the market. Investing in well-diversified, well-managed, high-quality and balanced blend of money managers, mutual funds, index funds and exchange traded funds. This allows one not to worry about making a single catastrophic decision with respect to individual stocks, but allows compounding growth and income reinvested to build wealth consistently and without volatility to achieve the result of reaching your wealth goals.

2. Surround oneself with trusted people. Hire competent and honest people to help one navigate the complexity and to put a plan in place to monitor and keep one informed with little turnover and maintenance. This helps keep taxes low with smoother results from investments being consistent. This allows the physician to focus on their career and not the markets, which is a full time occupation few of us are prepared to contend with. The most important commodity a physician has is their medical degree; preserving that and focusing on patient care is the only consideration while turning over the reins of their investments while getting regular updates.

3. Save money consistently, asset allocation according to one's age and risk tolerance, and allow compound interest to work its magic over time. By saving consistently with property asset allocation and time, you can compound growth into millions of dollars for retirement. Any physician with commitment and time, can become very wealthy with proper guidance. For example, if you invest $1,000 per month with simple 8% interest in a balanced portfolio, you can become a millionaire in a mere 25 years from that investment alone. Imagine if you did double or triple that?

4. Having wealth frees your time and affords you the luxury of being calm, without stress and confident to be the best physician and healthcare provider to your patients. Wealth in and of itself does not make for a happy physician; it does provide freedom to be your best without worry.

5. Finally, buy real estate and do so without a mortgage to complete your portfolio. Debt accumulation is not the goal; but real estate holds its market value in prime locations and assures diversity.

Brian Gantwerker, MD. Neurosurgeon at the Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: For 2024, artificial intelligence and the underlying chipmakers are the blue-chip stocks of the hour.  I would keep an eye on index funds as well, as these are always a safe bet for "set it and forget it" ease. Many people are going into real estate, which carries its own issues, and physicians should be aware of what their "net-net" will be after paying mortgage and a management company, and of course, onerous local regulations that could allow squatters to stay indefinitely.

Scott Glaser, MD. CEO and President of Pain Specialists of Greater Chicago: Leave the investing to the experts (find one you trust) and spend as much time as possible on your business.

Nariman Heshmati, MD. Executive Medical Director of Optum Washington (Mukilteo): Key investments really need to be in areas that are high impact. There are so many new technologies out there that you need to be careful that you are investing in the right ones, but anything from AI-assisted scribe systems to seamless digital front doors for care delivery will be critical for success in 2024. We have to leverage technology to not only improve the patient experience — which remains complex, costly and fractured — but also to allow clinical teams to focus more on care delivery and less on non-value added tasks.​

Deepak Reddy, MD. Spine Surgeon at South Bend (La.) Orthopedics: I think there’s a lot of crazy ideas out there for how physicians should invest. Some might be fantastic, however, I think for most physicians, realizing that you are not a financial advisor, investment banker or real estate mogul is critical. Our primary role is in rendering healthcare and trying to moonlight is probably ill advised. Most of the time, when I talk to the younger physician,  I generally keep it simple: Shoot to save about 30% of your attending paycheck if not more. Invest conservatively in simple things like index funds and build organically slowly over time. Max out matched retirement benefits and tax beneficial IRAs and take advantage of things like 529 plans that might help with education later in life. Most of us as physicians are too busy clinically to be micromanaging our investments and structuring those investments to be “set and forget” long term is probably best for a lot of busy clinicians. 

Thomas Miller, MD. Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (Roanoke): There are no shortcuts or quick and easy return. Use of a reliable investment resource, consistent contribution to an investment plan and patience above all else. Old rules, and they work

Kristopher Schroeder, MD. Anesthesiologist and Professor at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (Madison): A key investment tip would be to avoid placing any stock in any single, prophetic tip. Instead, attempt to voraciously learn all that you can through podcasts, books, articles, blogs, etc. Make an effort to live simply, save abundantly, give generously and know that there is little additional happiness to be achieved through the accumulation of additional possessions. 

Zeeshan Tayeb, MD, Owner of Pain Specialists of Cincinnati: Investing in ventures you are familiar with, such as becoming an owner or partner in an ASC, developing a clinical research arm of your practice or expanding services such as lab services can improve your portfolio.  Diversification in fields outside of healthcare can also be exciting, such as real estate holdings and development.

Christopher Yeung, MD. Spine Surgeon at Desert Institute for Spine Care (Phoenix): Invest in your staff. Wages are increasing across-the-board and you’ll need to pay competitive wages in order to keep key personnel that make the ASC run efficiently and smoothly. If you have happy and good employees, you create and maintain a positive working environment that your patients can sense.  Avoid high turnover with your staff. Familiarity with the scrub techs and nurses contribute to a more relaxed surgeon and efficient and enjoyable workdays, which also may impact safety and outcomes. Invest in any equipment that can increase safety and quality. Compromised outcomes at a facility can ruin the ASC’s reputation and also impact the surgeons reputation.

Christian Zimmerman, MD. Spinal Neurosurgeon at Saint Alphonsus Health System (Boise, Idaho):. Conservative, diverse investing in many sectors, concentrated focus on savings and real estate purchases with notable, prospective growth. The time value of money formula and its principles for investment were a constant mentor and guide. It may seem so unattractive to most, but in the long term, it works.

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