'I've Had It With Medicine!' 16 Options for Second Careers

Leigh Page


July 10, 2014

In This Article

8. Become a Financial Planner

Physicians who are successful in financial planning can use some of the skills they honed as clinicians and attain previous earning levels, but building the business involves hard work over several years.

Joel Greenwald, MD, was a practicing internist in the Minneapolis area for 11 years before switching to financial planning. "I was in my mid-30s, and I said to myself, 'I can't feel like this for 30 more years,'" he recalled. He was always interested in financial planning, which he says is a lot like practicing medicine: Clients come to him with problems; he asks questions, comes up with solutions, and develops a program for them.

But the switch took years. First came the required classes and an exam to become a certified financial planner (CFP), which he completed while still in practice. Then he quit practicing to launch his new business, Greenwald Wealth Management. But during the first three years, he wasn't allowed to represent himself as a CFP and didn't have many customers.

When he could finally hang his CFP shingle, Dr. Greenwald realized that his best clientele would be other physicians. Very focused on their work, they often don't have time to tend to their finances. "Free time away from your practice is a precious commodity," he said. And because of the MD after his name, Dr. Greenwald could gain their trust, which is necessary when handling someone else's money.

Dr. Greenwald has worked hard to get new clients, writing articles on his new profession in major publications and speaking before physician groups. But even with all of the effort he's put into his second career, he thinks the work is a lot simpler than running a practice. "I serve 80 households of clients, and I have two employees," he said. "All I need to do is make them happy." Now that he has a busy practice, "I make more money than I would as a general internist," he said.

Pluses: This path is a good fit for physicians who have financial skills, and in time you can potentially match your clinical income.

Minuses: You need to have a knack for managing finances, and it takes years to establish the business.


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