Finance Your Life: Positioning Yourself for Financial Success

By Gog Boonswang, CFA

As young retina specialists, we are fortunate to be in a profession that has great potential for financial success. To achieve such financial success, however, it is important to take ownership of our financial lives. With an understanding of the key issues and a proper advisory team in place, retina specialists can achieve financial freedom. In this first of a series of articles, I have invited Gog Boonswang and Lifan Shen, experienced private wealth managers at JP Morgan Securities, to lend their insights on a series of tasks they believe must be addressed to reach your financial goals. Each installment of Finance Your Life will serve as an item on a comprehensive checklist of key issues for managing your financial life. This first installment describes the initial step of putting an advisory team in place in order to manage your financial life. With each subsequent article, we will delve deeper into each of the subsequent key tasks that should be addressed.

- Gene Ng, MD, MBA

The optimal advisory team includes a private banker, tax advisor, and trust and estate attorney. Because each role is distinct and complementary, it is important not only that each advisor excels in his or her discipline, but that the team works together to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. An optimized team is made up of sophisticated advisors who understand the role of each of the other advisors, creating a system of checks and balances. Although having sophisticated advisors who are able to work closely and ask good questions of the other members of the team is helpful, it is dangerous for one of your advisors to formally take on another advisor’s role (ie, a tax advisor who makes direct investments in addition to providing tax advice).

Private Banker/Private Wealth Manager/Financial Advisor/ Financial Planner/Broker
A sophisticated private banker typically serves as the “quarterback” of the advisory team. In this role, the banker works with the client to make all investment decisions, provide access to credit, advise on all aspects of the surgeon’s nonmedical life, and work closely with the tax advisor and trust and estate attorney to ensure investments are optimized on an after-tax basis.

Engaging a private banker can be challenging, as there is a wide range of sophistication in this profession, making it difficult to differentiate between a sophisticated advisor and a salesman. Thus, due diligence is required when looking for a sophisticated banker. Criteria include experience, consistency in career, schooling, professional designations, and high volume/high profile clientele.

Tax Advisor/Accountant/Business Manager
The tax advisor’s primary role is to provide tax advice, work with the banker to optimize investments on an after-tax basis, and file tax returns. Similar to the private banker role, there is a wide range in levels of sophistication. Because it is important for the tax advisor to work closely with the banker, many times bankers will have recommendations for top tax advisors with whom they work, and likewise, tax advisors are often able to recommend top bankers. Because there are fewer professional designations, requiring a CPA is a good starting point when looking to engage a tax advisor. More sophisticated tax advisors may advise on corporate structuring and other tax strategies and can offer insight regarding the intricacies of running a private office.

Trust and Estate Attorney
The trust and estate attorney’s primary role is to draft the necessary documents to optimize a personal estate and work with the banker to implement the desired generational planning strategy. This includes creating wills, philanthropic entities, and trusts to optimize generational planning. A sophisticated banker should be able to walk you through the key issues of trust and estate planning and lead meetings with the attorney to ensure key goals are properly planned for. This ensures the investment plan is optimized with regard to the trust and estate plan and also saves legal fees. Money can be left to the next generation, a philanthropic entity, or the Internal Revenue Service; proper trust and estate planning will ensure this is optimized based on the wishes of the prior generation.

Compiling a world-class team of advisors who work together is a key element of achieving financial success. Future installments of this column will address additional key issues including trust and estate planning; insurance and philanthropy; optimizing your personal balance sheet; understanding your investments; retirement planning; and preparing for your children’s education.NRMD

Gog Boonswang, CFA has been advising high-net-worth families and foundations for 10 years. Boonswang was a Founding Principal with Summit Rock Advisors, a multi-family office that advises families with $100 million in investable assets. Prior to joining Summit Rock, Boonswang advised wealthy families working in the Private Wealth Management Groups at Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Morgan Stanley. Boonswang spent 3 years as a world-ranked tennis player on the ATP / ITF tours. He sits on the board of the Princeton Varsity Club and is a trustee of the Albert G. Oliver Program, which focuses on the education of high-potential, underprivileged children. Boonswang holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Princeton University.

Eugene W. Ng, MD, MBA is a vitreoretinal surgeon at the Retina Institute of Hawaii. Dr. Ng has no financial interests in the product, or companies mentioned in this article. Dr. Ng is a New Retina MD Editorial Board member. He may be reached at 808 955 0255; or via e-mail at


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About New Retina MD

New Retina MD delivers cutting-edge content to retina specialists in their first 15 years of practice. Each issue provides fresh insight from younger physicians plus established mentors on clinical and nonclinical issues affecting ophthalmologists in the earlier stages of their careers. NRMD features surgical pearls, clinical research endeavors, practice management, medical reimbursement and policy, continuing educational requirements, financial planning, innovations, and more.