The Investment Scientist

Can Doctors Die Poor?

Posted on: October 20, 2020

This is the opening story of my book “Physician Wealth Management Made Easy” published nearly three years ago. It was briefly the Amazon Bestseller in the physician category.

Twelve years ago, I got a call from my internist. “Michael, I am afraid I can’t be your doctor any more,” he said, right after hello. It was an odd opening, and his voice sounded strained. Doc Johnson and I had always been on friendly terms. Had I done something wrong to offend him?

“What’s going on, Doc?” I replied. “Is it .. is it my insurance?”

“No, Michael,” he said and took a deep breath. “I’ve been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. And …” he paused again. “I have only a few months to live.”“Wow, that’s terrible, Doc.” I didn’t quite know how to go on and ask, “OK, but why did you call me? I am no doctor. What can I do about it?” So I just waited on the line.

At last, Doc Johnson continued. “Michael, my family’s totally unprepared for this, not just emotionally, but … financially. I’m sorry, but I had to call, because you’re the only financial guy I know. Can you give us some advice? Help us figure this out?”

Now, at this point in my life, I was not a financial planner, and I had never been a financial planner. I was a numbers guy, not a people guy. Since college, I had worked in major trading houses. And just then, I was the owner of my own hedge fund—a very successful hedge fund in which I worked with only a handful of wealthy investors. Most days, I never spoke to a soul, not even about money. I simply sat in front of computer screens up in my Florida beach condo, watching the digits roll over, as beautifully as the surf. But how could I refuse a man who was about to die? … Two days later, I found myself at Dr. Johnson’s house, meeting his family.

I was shocked to see that such a solid man of science and precision as Doc Johnson had no idea how to handle money.

To read the rest of the story and learn the basics of wealth management, go buy the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Physician-Wealth-Management-Made-Easy/dp/1619617927/

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Author

Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC.

Twitter: @mzhuang

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