Stephen Hunt: Driving MD Financial Planning Advice

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Stephen Hunt has been in the financial services industry for 27 years, 23 of which with MD Financial Management. In his current role as National Lead, Financial Planning Advice and Strategy, he leads a team that supports advisors in delivering financial planning to their clients.

Stephen joined MD as a Senior Financial Consultant in the Toronto & Richmond Hill offices in 1996. After nearly ten years, he moved to Ottawa to join the Practice Team, acquiring experience in managing the Head Office Financial Consultants and supporting financial planning initiatives. He also developed a regional perspective as assistant regional manager.

Through this variety of roles, Stephen has acquired an extensive knowledge of both physicians and MD, making him an invaluable contributor to MD’s mission of helping physicians and their families achieve financial well-being.

As the National Lead in Financial Planning Advice and Strategy at MD Management Limited, what can you tell us about your role and responsibilities to give our readers a better understanding of what it is that you do?

My team’s role is to support MD Management Limited’s Financial Consultants in providing relevant advice to our clients so that physicians can worry less about their finances and focus more on what is important to them, notably the health and well-being of their patients.

In your expert opinion, what do you believe is the main reason behind the lack of financial knowledge among Canadian physicians?

• Physicians don’t have time to learn on their own

By experience, I can tell you that at every stage of their journey, physicians have extremely busy schedules.

Between dealing with all of the stresses of a Canadian household, caring for patients’ health and well-being, and operating their practice as business owners, physicians have little to no time left for financial education.

This is the case for about 40% of physicians with up to 15 years of practice in our survey.

• Physicians haven’t received financial education

Most physicians never learned about finances prior to embarking on their journey, leaving them unprepared from the start. Up until 15 years into practice, 38% to 56% of respondents said they never learned about money management before becoming a physician.

Yet physicians are eager to understand more about their finances, investments in particular: between 34% and 59% of respondents across career stages wish they knew more now about investments, with the highest percentage among young physicians. And as a community heavily invested – two-thirds of students already own investments, and all practicing physicians own investments starting in their fifth year of practice in our survey – physicians can only benefit from greater investment knowledge.

What is the biggest challenge that Canadian physicians can face due to their lack of financial knowledge? How can it affect their business?

Physicians face a unique range of financial challenges over the course of their career, from financing medical school and growing their practice, to incorporating their business, investing, and planning for retirement.

When they run their practice, they need to make decisions through the lens of a business owner, whether that is thinking about staffing and overhead, tax planning, or other finance-related issues. Provincial government billing nuances are another important factor.

Physicians must also consider personal life needs with their own set of financial implications, making for an overall complex financial picture with interconnections between life and career decisions.

As a result, poor planning or financial decisions can originate from different places and at different stages of the physician’s journey, and lead to potentially costly consequences.

In the face of these challenges, if physicians feel they’re unprepared to make sound financial decisions, this can be an added source of stress.

To help solve this significant issue, MD recently launched the MD Learning Lounge which is designed to help educate physicians on financial services. How do you believe this will benefit Canadian physicians?

It is important for all Canadians that physicians focus on what matters most: taking care of Canadians’ health. But as I mentioned earlier, feeling unprepared to make sound financial decisions due to a lack of financial literacy can be an added source of stress.

We also know that many physicians wish they knew more about finances. But of those surveyed, many never learned about money management prior to becoming a physician. And with their busy schedules, it’s difficult for them to find time to learn on their own.

This means many early-career physicians are having to learn on the job.

MD Learning Lounge provides a solution to these challenges by offering easy-to-digest and actionable financial education for physicians who are short on time yet eager to learn.

MD Learning Lounge will empower physicians and lower financial stress by making their financial education easier.

What are some other strategies or initiatives that you believe should be implemented to help physicians have a better knowledge of financial services?

Physicians do have options to strengthen their financial literacy and take control of their financial life.

In addition to learning on their own, they can ask for professional advice.

MD’s 50 years of dedication to Canadian physicians and their families and our advisors’ day-to-day experience with physicians make us an unparalleled source of knowledge for physician-specific financial issues.

Our advisors help physicians understand their own financial needs and find the best solutions to achieve their financial well-being at every stage of their journey. advisors are committed to delivering objective advice. They work primarily on salary — and are not paid any commissions for selling one product rather than another.

MD is mindful of physicians’ demanding schedules and makes it convenient to access advisors online or in person.

We also provide education through talks and presentations across Canada to help medical students and residents become more financially literate.

On a final note, what advice can you give Canadian physicians to help them be successful in all areas of their business, including their financial well-being?

It is key for physicians to understand all aspects of their businesses, as well as their personal and professional needs.

This holistic approach will allow them to make the best decisions not only for their business, but also for their finances, their families, and themselves.

Physicians should know they don’t have to be on their own and they too can ask for help. They can reduce their stress by increasing their financial knowledge and by asking for help from a professional when they need it.

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