Transitions Roundtable

Recent statistics have shown that more than 39% of dentists have delayed their retirement as a result of the Great Recession. This has resulted in there being fewer practices currently on the market for sale.

We ask two experts the same question to give you two different answers on a complex issue

QUESTION"How do I know when it is time to retire?"

by Gary Schaub

Malcolm Muggeridge, British journalist, said: "Few men of action have been able to make a graceful exit at the appropriate time."

How do you know when it's time to retire? Is there an internal body clock with a "retirement alarm" that suddenly goes off, jarring one with the fact that today is the day for this fateful event?

From my talks with dentists around the country, I have been able to develop the following hypothesis:

The attractiveness of retirement is inversely proportional to age

I am sure many of you are thinking that it is the lack of money that causes a later retirement age. This has been a factor in the past few years. However, in the majority of cases, money was not the issue in terms of age of retirement.

Longevity and retirement ages have no correlation. Life expectancy has increased over 11 years since the Social Security Act originated in 1935 and established the retirement age of 65. Today, using the same assumptions, retirement age would arbitrarily be 76.

Being a dentist is a high-status profession. But for a successful retirement, your identity must be secure. It is grounded in who you are, not what you are. The size of your retirement fund will not determine a successful retirement. It is what is in your heart. If you approach retirement as the establishment of a sense of continuity in the later one-third of your life, then retirement is freedom.

There is a trick to the Graceful Exit. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry -- that we are moving on, rather than out.

Gary Schaub is the founder of HELP Appraisals & Sales Inc., a dental and medical appraisal and brokerage firm in Portland, Ore. He is a member of American Dental Sales and can be reached at (503) 223-4357 or (855) 463-0101.

by Tom Snyder, DMD, MBA

There are actually two answers to this question: one is qualitative and the other is quantitative. From a qualitative point of view, your age and your physical condition will be key indicators as to whether or not you should continue to practice dentistry. Recent statistics have shown that more than 39% of dentists have delayed their retirement as a result of the Great Recession. This has resulted in there being fewer practices currently on the market for sale. In addition, the average retirement age for dentists has increased to 68 years old and is still climbing. So, our dental workforce is becoming older as many dentists continue to practice because they are unable to meet their financial objectives.

Conversely, if you've been fortunate to engage the services of a financial planner, you should know "quantitatively" when you are able to retire. Your retirement is not only dependent upon your lifestyle habits and your net worth, but also what your future income needs will be upon retirement. If you have never considered retaining a financial planner, now is the time to do so. Unless you know whether or not you can afford to retire comfortably, how can you know whether it's time for you to consider selling your practice? So, combining a qualitative aspect as well as a quantitative aspect in formulating your exit strategy is a necessary recipe for your eventual retirement.

Tom Snyder, DMD, MBA, is the director of transition services for the Snyder Group, a division of Henry Schein Professional Practice Transitions. He can be reached at (800) 988-5674 or Tom.Snyder@henryschein.com .

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