The following interview was conducted by Marcia TravelsTead, for the PracticeLink Magazine.
Cherry Chen, M.D., is an internal medicine physician and cofounder of The Real Estate Physician, a resource that connects health care professionals with commercial real estate investment opportunities. One of her goals is to empower physicians to live purposeful lives both in and outside the clinic and to achieve greater financial independence. Chen is also the author of “The Physician’s Definitive Guide to Real Estate Syndications.” Learn more at therealestatephysician.com.
What do you like about helping physicians invest?
I like how empowering it has been. As physicians, we understand how hard we work for our income and as investors, we can make that money work for us. Ultimately, investing gives us the freedom to practice medicine on our own terms independent of our salary—and that is empowering.
What’s the most challenging part?
Much like in our clinical studies, the investment journey is one of continued learning that requires a healthy dose of curiosity, due diligence and caution. While there are plenty of great teachers
out there, there are also many with ulterior motives. The remedy to this is due diligence. The most surprising part of this journey is the reception I’ve received from my fellow colleagues around
the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to have heard stories from other physicians about their journeys into investing and been a part of the greater community that has been built around those stories. There is a grave need to have further resources to empower physicians financially.
What is your advice for physicians who might want to get into investing?
Develop your own investment philosophy, which starts with asking questions about yourself. What is the timeline of the investment? How much do I have to invest? Do I prefer liquid or illiquid investments? What level of volatility and risk aversion am I comfortable with? And most importantly, what is the opportunity cost? Developing your own investment philosophy will help rule out investments that are not well suited for you individually and provide guidance to sift through all the seemingly endless opportunities.
How did you start helping other physicians invest?
I started my investment journey like many other physicians. After residency, I made it a priority to max out my 401(k), which was the only fi nancial direction I believe most of us had. When I started looking deeper into other opportunities, I sifted through layers of information, attended conferences focused primarily on commercial real estate investments, and started developing a network of experts that could help guide me. That’s when I realized there are many wonderful resources out there for physicians to establish their fi nancial health, but there were very few that focused on fi nancial wealth. As I started to invest more into commercial real estate, I wanted to share the very same wealth of information I sifted through which led to the resource my company provides today.
Anything else you’d like to add?
It took us a decade to learn the language of medicine, and we have to remember we did that through exposure and being surrounded by those who have or are going through the same journey. Similarly, the journey through fi nancial literacy, specifi cally through navigating investment opportunities, is a process that takes time and exposure through books, podcasts or other physicians on the same path.