Financial planning for women in dentistry

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Financial planning for women in dentistry: An interview with Ted Buckley

In this interview, Ted Buckley delves into the financial intricacies and challenges that female dentists encounter in their professional journey. (Image: Ted Buckley)

Ted Buckley is a seasoned financial adviser, an acclaimed speaker and the author of the book Retired! What Do You Want to Do for the Next 30 Years?. In this interview with Dental Tribune International, he sheds light on the unique hurdles that female dentists face in their profession. He discusses the gender pay gap and the complexities of work–life balance and offers advice on how to navigate these challenges in order to gain a secure financial future and a fulfilling post-career life.

Mr Buckley, what are some of the most significant financial challenges female dentists face in their profession?
Female dentists, like many women in other professional fields, often face financial challenges that are unique compared with those faced by their male counterparts. These challenges include the gender pay gap, work–life balance and equitable access to resources such as loans and opportunities. Females also typically live longer, so resources for additional income should be considered.

What is one piece of advice you would give to female dental professionals just starting to focus on their financial future, and what strategies could help them achieve their financial goals within the dental industry?
I would tell them to start now! No one working on their financial or retirement plan has ever said, “Oh, I wish I started my financial retirement plan later in life, when I was older.” Even if you have bills and commitments, starting even a little bit earlier in life can help to increase accumulation over a lifetime. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world because of the fantastic impact it can have over time to help increase one’s savings.

Considering the gap in retirement benefits between men and women, how can female dental professionals plan for a financially secure retirement?
Woman dentists must become more aware of some of the challenges they might face, such as career interruptions. Women may take time off or reduce their hours to care for children or ageing relatives, leading to interruptions in their careers and potentially lower earnings over time. Additionally, female dentists may have higher student loan debt burdens owing to factors such as longer loan repayment duration or earning less during residency and early career stages. Women also typically have lower retirement savings than men because of lower lifetime earnings, career interruptions and longer life expectancies.

Challenges may include difficulty in accessing capital to start or expand their practices owing to discrimination or bias from lenders. Finally, balancing career demands with family responsibilities can be particularly challenging for female dentists, having an impact on their ability to focus on financial planning and wealth accumulation.

“So many successful woman dentists are hard workers and excellent savers.”

How do you envision an ideal retirement for someone in the dental field?
As a dedicated financial adviser, I have often been asked by retiring female clients to recommend books that give advice on how to retire successfully. I have never found one that I thought offered enough helpful information. So instead of recommending subpar books, I decided there was a huge need to write a comprehensive guidebook to help people get mentally ready to enjoy retirement to the fullest and have the time of their lives. My book is not about the money. It is about being happy in retirement.

So many successful woman dentists are hard workers and excellent savers. They have spent many years in accumulation. They are outstanding at it. However, they are unsure of how to plan for the social activity and challenges that go along with an extended period of non-working years.

Maintaining relationships is an integral part of coping with loneliness in retirement. What advice do you have for dental professionals retiring without a partner or whose social circles are primarily within the dental community?
Developing a close networking or friendship group with friends and family is certainly important, but one can also look outside into the community—for example to charitable groups and organisations—and choose to support a special cause. Joining such groups can be meaningful and a huge help.

Joining various social groups and engaging in hobbies or sports can be challenging and might not always be your top preference, so it’s important to be patient with yourself. Recognise that interests can change, which is why it’s beneficial to explore a range of activities and keep a few options on hand to try out.

Would you like to add anything else?
My book covers many of the ideas we discussed in this interview and provides numerous additional examples in detail, serving as a sounding board and a guide for the numerous challenges that dental professionals will face. Retirement is not like going to summer camp. It includes ups and downs, fun and sad times, health problems and a whole array of regular life happenings, but it can also be a very fulfilling time. Spend time to give yourself the chance to make it the very best you can.

Editorial note:

Ted Buckley will be giving two lectures on the topic at the 2024 Chicago Dental Society Midwinter Meeting, titled “Optimizing financial goals: Financial challenges and opportunities for women” and “What do you want to do for the next 30 years? How to mentally prepare for retirement”. More information about the event can be found here.

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