CAN I RETIRE BY AGE 50?
I’ve often opined that one of the biggest pitfalls
for the practicing dentist is the “hot invest-
ment tip.” There have been more than a few
occasions where these scenarios played out
much differently than dentists anticipated.
Oftentimes, the individual investor is so blinded by perceived potential upside that the risk
exposure is ignored.
In the middle and late 1990s, I had a young
dentist who fell into this trap. He became
enamored with high-risk penny stocks. I’d
often hear about the successes, and less fre-
quently about the losses. This is where my
concept of “home-run investing” was born. I
told this particular client the following:
You are a young dentist in your mid-thirties,
and you are earning a multiple six-figure income.
There are some people who aren’t in your position and may feel like they must take that risk
to get where they want to go. But you don’t have
to hit a home run. You are young enough and
make enough money. All you need to do is save
with discipline and invest prudently, and you
can reach your goals. You are the biggest threat
to derail your balance sheet!
This is one of the biggest takeaways of this
article. Start hitting singles and doubles, and
keep doing it. The more you swing for the
home run, the more you strike out. Don’t let
inappropriate levels of risk put your balance
sheet and your goals of financial independence
Average dentists begin their professional journeys in their twenties and stay the course until
their sixties. This 30- to 40-year time frame
covers many distinct stages of life. Dentists
begin purchasing financial products early in
their careers, and this behavior continues
throughout their lives as circumstances evolve.
On the surface, that may not sound like a
problem. But imagine you are one of these
dentists and you come meet with me. Upon
further review, we discover that you own three
or four different disability insurance policies.
Add to that four or five different life insurance
policies. Before you are finished, be sure to
account for the multiple IRA, ROTH IRA,
401(k), 529, and other investment accounts
you’ve set up over the years that are just “out
there.” Moreover, most of these accounts and
policies don’t really “communicate” with each
other, meaning they aren’t working in concert
to advance your personal financial agenda.
This disorganization can mask underlying
issues that can manifest into larger problems
if left unchecked. It also makes it very difficult
for you to plan for your future, because it’s
next to impossible to determine where you
You can’t begin to chart your course for
financial independence if you don’t know
where your starting point is. Organizing your
financial household gives you the best chance
of being successful in reaching financial
When making plans for financial indepen-
dence, it’s easier to narrow down your time
horizon. It’s similar to investing in children’s
college funds. Before you begin, you may not
be able to write down an exact future date,
but in most cases, you know it’s several years
down the road. However, assessing the risk
management vulnerabilities in a balance sheet
is more complex. Unpredictable perils such as
a disability, premature death, or even a liability
lawsuit are just that— unpredictable. The ran-
domness of these threats make them the most
emergent needs to address. All too often human nature takes over, and perceived invin-
cibility puts these issues farther down the
priority list than they deserve.
Mitigating risk in your portfolio is one of
the keys to successfully reaching financial
independence. Oftentimes, this is only
thought of in terms of your investments and
asset allocation, but it is much more involved.
Dentists who successfully reach their early
financial independence goals usually address
their exposure to the above-mentioned “un-
predictable perils” and ensure that their bal-
ance sheets and plans will not be derailed in
the event they are realized.
Initiative, mixed in with hard work and discipline, is what propelled you to become a
dentist. These same traits can also help you
reach financial independence on your own
terms. Time is one commodity that cannot
be purchased. Reaching a level of financial
independence earlier in life can enable you
to live the life of significance of your choosing.
Approach your goal of early financial independence with the same tenacity that earned
you your dental degree. Commit to doing the
things that many will not do, so that you can
achieve what many will not achieve.
ANDY UPCHURCH, RHU,
REBC, is the president of
Continuum Financial Solutions.
Based in Charlotte, North
Carolina, Andy travels
throughout the United States as
a dental- and medical-specific
financial advisor. Andy can be
reached at (317) 701-2226 or at
email@example.com. You can read more about
Andy and the type of work he provides for his clients at
Registered Representative and Financial Advisor of Park
Avenue Securities, LLC (PAS), 4201 Congress Street,
Suite 295, Charlotte, North Carolina, 28209. Securities
products/services and financial advisory services
offered through PAS, a registered broker-dealer and
investment advisor, (704) 552-8507. Financial
Representative, The Guardian Life Insurance Company
of America, New York, New York. PAS is an indirect,
wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian. Continuum
Financial Solutions is not an affiliate or subsidiary of PAS
or Guardian. PAS is a member of FINRA, SIPC.
Material discussed is meant for general informational
purposes only and is not to be construed as tax, legal,
or investment advice. Although the information has
been gathered from sources believed to be reliable,
please note that individual situations can vary.
Therefore, the information should be relied upon only
when coordinated with individual professional advice.
This material contains the current opinions of the
author but not necessarily those of Guardian or its
subsidiaries, and such opinions are subject to change
without notice. 2017-39109 Exp 4/19.
Don’t let inappropriate
levels of risk put your
balance sheet and
your goals of financial