Thursday, March 7, 2019

Hospitals and a Sky is Falling Economic Prediction

The headline from today's CFO Journal published by the Wall Street Journal was stark: "Sour Economic Outlook Weighs on CFO Spending, Expansion Plans. Let's leave off the lack of expansion plans, but focus on spending.

Consider a low-margin industry that employs highly-skilled workers in short supply -- hospitals -- in particular. Talk to heads of HR in the hospital sector. Most have nearly identical top concerns: how do I attract and retain skilled professionals? What they are obviously referring to are physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, technologists, and technicians. These are all careers that require very specific, often extensive, education. They are all in short supply and feeling burnout. What is there to keep them around?

Direct cash is not a good option. First, as the WSJ piece suggests, CFOs just won't part with the levels of cash necessary to attract and retain. Second, and while data demonstrating this phenomenon are difficult to find, people live to their levels of income. In other words, if you have a doctor earning $200,000 per year with annual savings in his 401(k) only, if you give him a $50,000 pay increase, his savings in many cases will remain 401(k) only.

This is not good. Some day that physician is going to burn out. He may tire of a profession that has changed from being highly personal to largely impersonal. He may tire of insurers telling him how to practice medicine. He may tire of government intervention.

In any event, if he tires, he is going to do so without being prepared for retirement.

Therein may lie the key.

Prepare your skilled staff for retirement. Do it not by increasing your costs, but by reallocating your labor costs.

Most people live to (or above regardless of pay or nearly to) their paychecks. And, they want pensions.

Give them what they want. Give them a pension that checks all the boxes:

  • Secure
  • Lifetime Income Options Without Subsidizing the Profits of Large Insurers
  • Portability
  • Easy to Understand
  • Professionally Managed Investments
  • Stable, Predictable, and Manageable Costs
The time is now. Act while the economy is still strong and prepare yourselves and your employees for when it's not.