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The FinancialMD Show - Ep 015 - Why Jon Loves Being A Financial Planner


· There’s A Certain Excitement On Initial Consultation [0:00:31]

· Being A Financial Advisor Is Interesting [0:02:13]

· Estate Planning – A Fun Kind Of Challenge [0:05:15]

· Having No Estate Planning Is A Bad Decision – Take For Example, Howard Hughes [0:06:53]

· There Are A Million Different Ways To Do Financial Planning [0:12:43]

· At Financial MD, We Are Happy To Have A Good Impact On Our Clients’ Lives [0:15:22]

· Ultimate Goal Is To Be The Best You Can Be [0:20:24]

· In Financial Planning, You Have To Have Your WHY To Motivate You [0:24:10]

Welcome to the Financial MD Show. This is the only podcast designed specifically for residents and young physicians to help you become educated on financial planning for physicians and avoid many of the common financial mistakes doctors make. Your hosts, Jon and Trevor, explore a different topic with each episode. Jon Solitro is a financial planner and certified financial education instructor. He’s been working with young physicians for the better part of the decade and lectures to graduate medical programs around the country. Dr. Trevor Smith is a board certified ophthalmologist with a full time practice and he has learned the ins and outs first-hand what it takes to make smart financial decisions as a young physician. And now here’s your hosts, Jon and Trevor.

Trevor: I’m just thinking. I mean, when you sit down with people when you’re doing some advising, what do you get most excited about like talking to the clients about? Is it the value – big picture like value? Is it potential money earned, saved, taxes? What pops up along the way where you’re just like, oh, this is the fun part, I get to talk about whatever.

There’s A Certain Excitement On Initial Consultation [0:00:31]

Jon: Well, great question. I would say when I think back on the last seven years and the clients that I worked with, there’s a certain excitement to sitting down when we do an initial consultation and somebody has seen me at a workshop or lectures – something along those lines – or dinner what-have-you and they’re sitting down with me – I just love that first moment when I just, okay, hey, great to meet you, hope you got some value at the lecture, what can I help you with – and just, you know, whatever comes next. Some were similar but they’re never the same and then the hour-long conversation that ensues after that. I love getting to know people. You know, you know my background. I was a counselor before this and as much as I got bored of that real quick being a counselor – you know, I still loved the people and loved the ones that I felt like I could help – and being in financial planning is a little bit of a different atmosphere because I still feel like I’m utilizing quite a bit of the soft skills and the counselor stuff that I had of just the psychology, but it’s more rewarding in a few different ways because number one, I get to really pick and choose who I can work with for one. Number two, it scratches the itch of being an entrepreneur and get into really determine my future but mainly, I’m sitting down and listening for most of that hour when I first meet people and hearing about some of their fears and some of their goals and dreams and what they love and what they hate and all those things makes for – I never get bored of that part, and I’ll be sad if I ever have to get out of it and play CEO or do any of those things but I hope I’ll always be able to do a little bit of that. Money’s an interesting one.

Being A Financial Advisor Is Interesting [0:02:13]

When I was first looking at the field of financial planning, I remember I was meeting with a family friend that was the only financial advisor I knew and just talking to him and he was a real genuine guy and he said being an advisor is interesting because there’s a lot of people who, you know, the two most important things in their life – and he worked for a lot of Christians – and he said, the two most important things in their life and they won’t admit to this but it’s money and God and often on the same plane and sometimes not in the right order and people will tell you things that they don’t tell anybody else and it’s interesting. So that part probably just my favorite part about being in financial planning and being a financial planner and then once I’ve been working with a client for a little while, that transitioned out of residency into practice is pretty fun, sitting down for a first review meeting, they’ve been in practice, they’ve gotten a few big paychecks, and I’m excited for them.

Trevor: That’s cool.

Jon: I have a client right now. I was the first one they told when they got pregnant so that was kind of special.

Trevor: That’s cool. You have how many kids again?

Jon: I have four.

Trevor: Four kids, yeah.

Jon: That’s the stuff that keeps me going quite a bit on that end. Topic-wise, what do I really like to get into, I love talking about things that I know a lot about like anybody, say this and brag a little bit. I feel like we’re probably the financial planners that know the most about disability insurance, you know, other than somebody that that’s all they do is sell disability insurance. They’re insurance agents. For us being financial planners, we are licensed to sell it, but we’ve been doing it so long with doctors that we got to be one of the experts as far as if we took a handful of financial planners. So I enjoy that part because that’s probably one of the areas we get the most questions on because they’re getting hit by these insurance companies or agents that are just going after them, trying to get a big policy, thrown into some big policy that they shouldn’t be in and getting a big commission and/or getting some complicated thing and 90 percent of the time when I sit down with these people that already have a policy, I’m like, okay, so can you tell me the details in your policy, and most of them are like, I have no idea, I bought this in second-year residency or whatever. So, it’s fun sorting that out for people. It’s gratifying but sad when I have to tell them that like, you probably made a bad purchase here, because insurance is a sensitive topic. Investing is easy to talk about, right? Cash flow, budget – those things are fairly easy to talk about – but when I sit down and say, okay, let’s talk about when you’re going to die or when you’re going to get sick or injured or the scary times in life, I think a lot of planners or advisors might avoid that. I think, here at Financial MD, we are happy to talk about it. We know a lot about it and so we get a lot of that kind of peace and comfort from clients knowing that, okay, it’s good to know that I’ve sat down finally with somebody that I feel like cares about me that, you know, as a fiduciary because I’m paying them but they can help me sort out this insurance issue without as much anyway conflict of interest and that kind of thing. Yeah, I like talking about that. It’s easy.

Estate Planning – A Fun Kind Of Challenge [0:05:15]

I like talking about estate planning. I’ve gotten to be friends with quite a few estate planning attorneys, some that I send clients to, just getting to know that profession, that field; the nuances of estate planning, just that concept of trying to take what you have accumulated and earned and worked for, how do I pass this on to my family or charities or people that I care about and – as my conservative root showing – how do I keep that out of the government’s hands as much as possible, you know, with my Libertarian bent. That’s a fun kind of challenge and I’m always trying to learn more about estate planning. I’m actually into the final class of the CFP coursework which is estate planning so I’m trying to really pay attention. It’s super interesting.

Trevor: That’s cool. Estate planning is something I’m not terribly familiar with, kind of for obvious reasons. I mean, I’m still not too close to the end of my life and there’s just so many other fish to fry in the short term.

Jon: Yeah, that’s what it feels like, and that’s what a financial planner’s job is to help you prioritize what you should do first.

Trevor: Yeah. You often have, if you’ve done a great job of planning and if you’ve been a high net worth individual or you often have the most money when you die, you can often have the most money you’ve had in your life when you die and so you have the most to lose, right?

Jon: Yeah, that’s a good way to put it.

Trevor: I mean when you have the most and you could potentially have the government take half, you’ve done all that work and then to have not organized what happens after you’re gone can cause you more than any decision you ever made while alive. Is that an accurate statement?

Having No Estate Planning Is A Bad Decision – Take For Example, Howard Hughes [0:06:53]

Jon: Definitely, yup, for sure. Case in point – who was it that died and his estate – this is a different celebrity story. I like listening to a podcast called Celebrity Estates. Howard Hughes’ estate, for example, was in the hundreds of millions at this point when he died. A great aviator – he helped to build some planes during World War II. He was an innovator in the field of aviation. Howard Hughes had an estate valued at, I think, a couple of hundred million dollars – had no will. No trust, nothing, and really no family that was obvious to pass through in probate, and so within a few weeks, there were about 15 different wills that came forward. Howard Hughes, he died, no will, had an estate probably around a couple of hundred million if I remember it correctly and then within a few weeks, about 15 different wills surfaced, none of which proved to be valid and the court just ended up dividing his stuff between a bunch of cousins.

Trevor: Wow.

Jon: Meanwhile, the probate cost – just for the probate fees and court fees – can be between 3 and 8 percent. So if you think about, let’s say, split the difference, 5 percent on 200 million is 10 million so that sucks and then there was a decent amount of estate taxes, I’m sure, which right now, the estate tax range is about 40 percent if you got a net worth over 11 million as a couple which when we look at 30, 40, 50 years from now when a lot of us are going to die, that’s not a high number and if we think of trends and what, say, this administration has proposed to do some tax changes, one of the big ones is pulling that ceiling way back down so that if you have a million or half a million net worth which is very common, then you’re going to be looking at estate taxes, so it’ll be much more critical to know how you’re set up for estate purposes and trying to avoid that, you know, and then just the cost and things notwithstanding, just the fact if I want to make sure that whomever is important to me that gets what I feel like they deserve whether it’s again charities or family or whatever.

Trevor: Yeah, but money actually goes where you want it to go.

Jon: Yeah, so there’s a lot of risk there that we want to try to mitigate and I guess it kind of feels like when you think of all the areas from investing to insurance to estate planning to tax planning like a lot of it is just like minimizing the risks that are involved because if you can just avoid some of the landmines and pitfalls will do pretty well especially in this country.

Trevor: Yeah, that’s right. We have significantly less although that’s sort of like big area of potential change here coming up with how much money is being printed but we have significantly less existential threats in the United States, or we have, it’s probably more accurate. We’ve had less threats that can completely undermine the value of our money or work. Our government is not likely to seize our businesses or assets because they’ve changed their priorities or the administration is changed or a coup has occurred and that is a luxury beyond luxury on our planet.

Jon: Yeah, absolutely.

Trevor: That’s pretty uncommon. I mean, let alone your own personal safety and that of your family, you know, all that crazy stuff that can happen and have in the last hundred years.

Jon: Yeah, when you think on the side. I heard an interesting tidbit today. Spain or Portugal is going to have a 3-year experiment of doing a four-day workweek, so as a country, that’s interesting.

Trevor: That’s very cool. I wonder who came up with that. I’m going to have to google that.

Jon: I don’t know. Millennials, probably.

Trevor: More power to them if so.

Jon: Yeah. What would the world be like if we all had an extra day?

Trevor: It’s funny. Here’s the thing, depending on which generation or whatever your perspective is – usually it doesn’t matter your generation, just how your brain has been programmed over the years of what your experience and exposures – you’ve got this idea, oh, five days is what is done and that is the best that shows hard work, that shows commitment. So you attribute these values to this system when the system doesn’t care what values you’ve attributed to. The five-day workweek doesn’t care whether you think that means that your employees are working hard. It doesn’t care. It’s just the system, right? So what if the system is not optimized for performance or happiness or growth or whatever and also the four-day workweek is actually what causes your company to grow and you to pool in better talent and people want to stay there because they like to be able to travel on the weekends. Whatever it is, it’s so easy to go, oh, yeah, that’s a millennial thing and kids these days don’t want to work and blah-blah-blah. It’s much more the case that our generation just wants to question the value, the base like first principle’s thought of, okay, a five-day workweek, is it best or not; is it optimizing the things that our company or family or whatever unit our church values or does our church value different things, okay, then what if we align those values with how we work our hours throughout the week. And then all of a sudden, the conversation is not like righteous or self-righteous basis of philosophy. It’s now how do we work together to accomplish what we actually wanted to accomplish.

There Are A Million Different Ways To Do Financial Planning [0:12:43]

And again, this is why we like financial planning is because there are a million different ways to do financial planning and tons of different goals that people come to the table with or even just values and they haven’t even made their goals yet. For some people, they probably sit down with you – tell me if this is the case. They probably sit down with you and they really haven’t put together goals.

Jon: No, for sure.

Trevor: They never really thought about their life in terms of goals but they did have values and they had never put names and words to those values. Now, they sit down with you and they realized, okay, there’s actual limitations to how much monetary energy I can create with my job which means I have to focus that limited time, limited monetary energy that time is converted into, and then that can be targeted towards goals that can make a difference in the world around you – the physical world around you – just by purposely pursuing them and you can actually achieve more goals if you plan appropriately, and if you save in certain ways or you give your money to certain groups of people who also makes similar or wise decisions that they’re goal-oriented and value-oriented, it becomes exponential. Yeah, that’s why you have a cool job. I mean, you get to rubber meets the road for a lot of people for the first time in their life, and working with doctors, it’s while they’re in the thick of it as residents and then like you said, you get to be one of the cool parts – you get to be part of that transition. With your clients, most of them have a 5x or 10x increase or some of them even higher on their salary like at the flip of graduation from the residency and now they have this entirely new powerful tool to change and form the world around them in their lives and that of their family, I mean, and the right framework which you have and financial advisors have; now also and you can channel that energy.

Jon: Yeah, and that’s it. I mean, we sat down and added up one day just an estimate of the income that’s going to happen, you know. If there’s a million and a half attending physicians and they’re averaging even just 200,000 dollars a year of income over a 30-year career, it’s getting into the trillions of dollars and so we began to realize at Financial MD when we birthed this vision like what’s at stake and what we potentially have influence over.

At Financial MD, We Are Happy To Have A Good Impact On Our Clients’ Lives [0:15:22]

If we can take just a piece of that and influence it for good, I’ll die a happy man knowing that my company helped to steer the trajectory of society by taking these high-income individuals that some of them will do good things for sure, some of them will have good advice for sure, but we just want to be able to impact a small fraction of that for the good to say, hey, let’s just pause for a second and sit down and see what’s important to you in life and how do we make choices with your finances that are in line with those values and how can we, after taking care of yourself – and I try to push all my clients to think through this, you know – you take care of yourself for sure, take care of your family – we get that – but the third step that most of them don’t think about is how do you try and take care of the world around you, and I’m not saying sacrifice yourself to do that although I would say I believe there should be some of that.

Trevor: Right.

Jon: But almost all my clients are able to make an impact in the world around them without really cramping their lifestyle at all. So much so that if we were to say what’s your target client, obviously, it’s physicians, but to be even more specialized, it’s physicians that have enough care about the world around them that they want to make a difference in some way. And I’ve talked to some that really just don’t care and they’re just not a good fit here and I can’t get them to think of – you know, and I’ll push them too like if you could give a million dollars to something between now and the end of your life and it really made an impact on something, what would that be? What charity? What mission? What cause? And you know, I can usually get something out of people there but some people are just, no, I just want to be happy; like, okay.

Trevor: Which is fine, and you’re talking to residents too who are like drowning in stress?

Jon: Yeah, right.

Trevor: You know what I mean? I feel like I’m just, you know how they talk about like the cliché term – I don’t know if it was the 2000s or the 1990s or whatever – but it’s self-actualization of becoming your better or greater or truer self.

Jon: Yeah, the humanistic psychology.

Trevor: Yeah, okay. There’s some good movies where people talk about that. Fargo season two, and there’s a great character who’s always trying to self-actualize. I can’t remember who plays it now – Kirsten Dunst, I think. Anyway, it’s very funny the way that she’s always trying to do that and it just kind of flighty and purposeless but it’s like self-actualization for the sake of self-actualization. But if you actually do that, you can make a huge impact and some people when you’re a resident – let me just speak from my experience. In residency, basically we’re forced to, practically speaking, you didn’t have time to and my mentors some of whom really just – I had one person specifically tell me that you are not Trevor who is a doctor; you’re a doctor who happens to be is that you’re now a working physician. And that’s from somebody who is honestly like a great person, a great mentor, really made a huge difference for all the residents throughout our training – very grateful – but it’s just a different perspective and it certainly doesn’t help you free your mind to think like, oh, what are the possibilities that I can build in my life like what do I want to do and be, and that’s a nice version of what some people are told in residency. Some people get way, way worse than that and once you get out, it takes time, I think, for those layers of sort of like stress, I mean, in some cases for people certainly like toxic environments that they’d have had to work in. You have to be in a healthy environment for that stuff to heal and wipe away all of that dirt that helps you to see more clearly. Anyway, for me, I feel like I’m just kind of getting there and I’ve been a couple of years out and I’m learning a ton. I’m always interested in lots of things but it still takes a while to just feel like, what do I want because I was told what my goal was for a while and a lot of us who end up in med school at all were told by our parents or by mentors of like you should do this because it’s the best you can do. it’s just pure optimization. Your interests don’t matter and it’s not that they don’t matter because we think they’re bad. They don’t matter because your goal is to be the best you can be, right.

Ultimate Goal Is To Be The Best You Can Be [0:20:24]

Jon: That’s especially true in the Asian culture. I’ve talked to a lot of Indians and Middle Eastern. In fact, I was freshman at Michigan State, lived in the dorms, and on my floor was an Indian girl who I became good friends with and one day I just asked her because she was pre-med and I was like, how come all you guys are either doctors or engineers, but mostly doctors, it seems. She’s like, well, you know, we grow up with our parents helping us to be the best that we can be and our expectation on us is that you’ll then go – doesn’t matter what you want to do – you’re going to do the best thing that is out there in the world from a financial standpoint, from a prestigious standpoint, and to them it’s a doctor and so that was just the ultimate goal.

Trevor: Yeah, totally. I mean, a tenth of my classmates. I’m grateful to have been able to go to a great medical school and then also medical school that really value diversity. I grew up in a small Dutch community in West Michigan – Holland, Michigan. The amount that I learned about just like the world and what is out there, and I was fortunate to grow up in a family where I traveled abroad. My parents did mission trips that genuinely made a difference in Jamaica and we go there every year with a group of college students. My dad was a professor. So I had a bit of a global perspective, but still it’s not the same as being surrounded by a diverse community of people with different backgrounds. I mean that was very common. You hear that across the board like one of the common jokes is like, my parents told me I could be anything I wanted as long as it’s a doctor or a lawyer.

Jon: Yeah, right.

Trevor: I had friends who, in a non-joking way, would say like, yeah, my brother’s like applying in medical school again, my parents have always been disappointed with him. And I’m like what he is doing? He is an engineer. You know it’s like – they’re like super smart. They’re making probably as much or more than physicians in their lifetime, but it’s a different priority. So, all that to say I think it takes a lot of sort of unwrapping the programmed mindset that we get and then we program ourselves to be able to study as much as we have to study to get through all the training. For anybody who is listening, I mean, I talked to like a life coach or like a career coach person a couple of years ago and that was super helpful because they equip you with a skill set we weren’t taught which is thinking through your thoughts in a different way. It’s not so much introspection. It’s just like focusing your critical thinking that you learned in medicine on your own decision making for your life and it’s sort of like we kind of want a little bit hands off to stay on the conveyor belt and not think too much about the fact that we’re giving up our 20s and so you’re used to making big decisions and not really thinking too much about where it sends you and I found it really helpful to talk to a physician career coach and just to think about somebody who has also done and been through it and been burned out and all that kind of stuff. They have that perspective. Anyway, I think that’s very helpful. It’s a growing thing right now. I think the physician philosopher; he’s got some White Coat connections. I think he started some sort of coaching thing – he can be a coach now too. I mean you can see why it’s popping up. There’s a huge need for it and it’s really great.

In Financial Planning, You Have To Have Your WHY To Motivate You [0:24:10]

I mean, in financial planning, you have to have your WHY to be your motivator to stick to a plan and I think it’s why a lot of people don’t end up getting disability insurance when they should early on and they don’t put money into the Roth IRA when they can afford to. They just don’t have a WHY to motivate them because they are not looking at their life like it’s their own. They’re kind of you almost have to step outside of yourself to make it through the training, to sacrifice that much. So, yeah, anyway, I totally recommend anybody to get a few sessions with a career coach or a life coach – whatever you want to call it. Any that are with a physician is particularly beneficial. That was a huge rant about coaches and life perspective but it’s very important. You have to have big motivators and the ones that are truest to yourself are the ones that are going to make a difference. Other people’s dreams of being a multimillionaire, they’re not going to motivate you. You’re not going to care. You have to want something yourself and you have to know that it’s your own thing that you want that just come from you or you won’t get there.

Jon: Yeah. What is the phrase? Know thyself, right?

Trevor: Yeah, that’s tough. That’s like the toughest part of life, I think.

Jon: Yeah. Well, that’s probably our time. There’s so much more we could go on to that but thanks for switching seats and asking the questions today a little more but we’ve got some great resources continuing to come out. We’re going to be coming out with an online course for residents. This summer is the plan so that’s in the works. We’re super excited about that. It will be kind of do-it-yourself approach, step by step, what to do, when to do it, and just a lot of good on-demand education, so be on the lookout for that. Join the Financial MD Facebook community, so search for that. You’ll also find it on our website: Check out the Didactic Minute videos on YouTube and Facebook. Those come out once a week which is quick two-minute topics, tips, finances, something to move you forward a little bit, and keep an eye on TikTok too. We’ll be throwing stuff out there. Yeah, I’m learning from my teenage daughter how to use that. So, lots of great stuff. We’re trying to give you again just to know more things and that’s usually a good thing. So, hope it helped. Again, with the Financial MD show, this is Jon Solitro and my co-host is Dr. Trevor Smith, and with that, we’ll see you next time.

Thanks for joining us for another Financial MD Show. Be sure to head over to to get more in-depth resources on financial tips for physicians and don’t forget to join the Financial MD community group on Facebook, where physicians at all stages of their career gather to share tips and get ideas on achieving true financial success. We’ll see you next time.

The Financial MD Show is for informational purposes only and is not an offer to invest. It is not financial, tax, or legal advice. Be sure to seek financial, legal, or tax professionals when making any financial decisions. Before investing, you should make sure that any investment strategy or investment meets your individual investment needs, goals, and objectives. Financial MD makes no claims or guarantees to individual investment performance. All investing involves the risk of loss as well as the potential for gain.

Resources and Links:

· Financial Planning – Definition, Objectives and Importance –

· What happened to Howard Hughes’ estate? –

· Financial MD Website –

· Financial MD Facebook community –

· Financial MD TikTok –

· Financial MD Instagram –

· Financial MD Twitter –

· Financial MD Apple Podcast –

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