RETIREMENT: READY OR NOT?
Table 1: Comparison of on-target and delayed retirement groups
60% 38% -22%
55% 35% -20%
20% 45% 25%
Unfortunately, more than a third of general
practice owners (35%) said they are delaying
their retirement due to changes in the
economy, according to the latest Dental
Economics–Levin Group Annual Practice
Survey. While the overall economy appears
to have bounced back from the post-2008
recession, the new dental economy is another
matter for many in our profession. There’s
more competition, fewer adult patients, and
changing consumer notions about the need
for twice-yearly hygiene appointments.
A significant portion of dentists—
especially those in their 40s and 50s—are
feeling the brunt of those changes. Yet many
practice owners (65%) are doing well when
it comes to being on target for retirement.
Based on the survey response to retirement
readiness, we decided to take a harder look
at these two groups of practice owners.
ON TARGET FOR RETIREMENT VS.
More than three fourths of the “delayed retirement” group (77%) had been practicing
21 years or longer. However, the on-target
group was only slightly below that, with 68%
of them in practice for over two decades.
The majority in both groups are midcareer,
However, as you might suspect, there are
some significant differences between the
two groups in the areas of revenue, active
patients, and stress:
The delayed group struggled last year,
with only 38% saying they increased revenue
in 2016 (table 1). This is significantly below
the on-target group, 60% of whom grew pro-
duction from the previous year. Similarly, the
on-target dentists outpaced their counter-
Need to increase
revenue and reduce
stress? Learn more
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ROGER P. LEVIN,
DDS, is the founder and
CEO of Levin Group, a
leading dental consulting
firm. A nationally
recognized speaker, Dr.
Levin presents practice
throughout the country.
parts by 20 percentage points (55% to 35%) in the category of doctors
who increased active patients in 2016.
Not surprisingly, a much larger percentage of the delayed group
(45%) was experiencing high or extremely high stress. If you’re increasing production and the number of active patients, you feel
good about what you’re doing and where you’re headed. If your
practice is struggling and you’ve been forced to delay retirement,
you probably have stress up to your eyeballs. That’s a tough way to
practice and a tough way to live. When you’re overly stressed, it’s
hard to make good decisions. You can’t see things clearly because
everything is filtered through the stress you’re experiencing.
Financial stress may be the worst kind of stress because it affects
everything you do. And being unable to retire when you planned
can make practicing seem like a life sentence, instead of an enjoyable
FINANCIAL EXPERTS NEED NOT APPLY
One mistake that both groups made was the failure to use the services
of a certified financial planner. For the delayed group, fewer than
one-fifth of dentists (18%) availed themselves of a financial planner,
which is extremely low. If you’re having trouble reaching your retirement goals, wouldn’t you want to speak to a retirement expert?
Meeting with a certified financial planner will force you to take
inventory of all your financial assets. You may discover forgotten
retirement accounts that move you closer to your goals. Of course,
there’s always the possibility you could get bad news about investment
choices. But it’s always better to know sooner rather than later.
The on-target group performed slightly better in this category,
with 29% of dentists using a financial planner. To me, this is still a
red flag. How can you be so certain you’re on target for retirement
if you haven’t worked with a financial expert recently?
The two groups of practice owners, delayed and on-target retirement,
had both obvious and expected differences. The practices of the
on-target group enjoyed increases to revenue and active patients
in far greater numbers, while experiencing far less stress than their
counterparts. Yet, I would encourage all dentists—no matter what
category they fall in—to work with a certified financial planner
throughout their careers.