Put a Solid Financial Plan into Motion

Physician's Money Digest, May 2007, Volume 14, Issue 5

One of the most essential elements to being asuccessful medical practice is the ability tocreate a business plan and then communicatethat plan to all the employees. The plan shouldhave metrics that are measurable and to which eachmember of the management team is held accountable.This type of plan provides direction and sets theexpectation level so that there are no "misunderstandings"along the way.

Creating a personal business plan is no different.Family goals need to be established and writtendown. These goals need to be discussed and communicatedto each family member. A few of the decisionsthat must be made are:

•Where will the kids go to college?

•What is the target date for retirement?

•What amount of income would you like to haveduring retirement?

•How much capital will you need to secure thatincome for retirement?

There are dozens of other questions that need tobe answered, but this should get you thinking in theright direction.

Once these questions are answered and goals arecreated, then the really important part begins—execution.A business plan that was created but not executedwas simply a waste of time. There must beaccountability to the plan with periodic measurementsto determine if the gap between where you areand where you want to be is being closed.

In the business world performance against goals isgenerally communicated to the public no less thanquarterly. Internally these measurements are takenmuch more often. The sooner underperformance canbe detected, the sooner corrective action can take place.

Yet somehow a physician's personal business plan,if they have one, is rarely reviewed more often thanevery few years. Most will give their investments acursory annual review but give little thought to anythingelse. This is the business equivalent of assumingthat because one of the five business components forwhich the physician is responsible is performing toplan that the other four components are as well.

Of course this sounds silly, but it is exactly howmost physicians deal with their personal businessplan. As you are reviewing the most recent quarterlyperformance of your practice, stop for a moment andthink about the last time you gave your personalgoals the same level of attention. If you give nothought to comparing where you currently are withwhere you want to be, how will you know if you aregetting there?

Anyone with children knows the two main questionsasked during a road trip are "Are we thereyet?" or "How much longer until we get there?"While these questions can become very annoying ifasked repeatedly, they are the child equivalent of ashareholder meeting or a meeting with the board ofdirectors. Everyone wants to know if the goals havebeen reached and if not how much longer it will take.

With regard to your financial plan—Are you thereyet? If not, how much longer until you are?

Greg Reed, CFP®, CFS, CLU®, MBA, is the director of planning forSmith, Frank & Partners, LLC. He is a registered representative ofand offers securities and advisory services through NFPSecurities, Inc, member NASD/SIPC. He welcomes questions orcomments at 972-490-4377 or gregreed@smithfrank.com.