"Sitting Ducks: Many physicians prove to be inept in investment matters," says a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (August 17, 1970). It goes on to cite examples of poor investments they have made in real estate, tax shelter schemes, business ventures, commodities, and common stocks. An official of the S. E. C. says doctors are invariably among the victims of stock fraud cases and they are particularly prone to making bad investments in schemes offering tax shelter. Their penchant for bad investments is not surprising. It arises generally from two companion factors: high income and long busy workdays. According to an official of the American Medical Association, doctors average about $32,000 a year, with incomes of $100,000 from lucrative big city practices not uncommon. After long days at their practice I and time for family and social life, most doctors have little time left to study investments.
Although the comments above were made about physicians, they apply equally well to dentists, other professional people, and business executives who work long hours and have high incomes. An investment area where they frequently bungle is tax shelter schemes. Many are "snowed" or dazzled by glowing statements from oil drilling program representatives about deductibility, tax savings, leverage of investment dollars, and the prospect of multiple return. They get so carried away with this sort of appeal that study of the prospectus inherent risk and intrinsic value of the investment are overlooked.
Oil and gas drilling programs are now offered publicly by over 150 different companies. Of the $1.70 billion total for programs filed with the S. E. C. in '69, approximately $.50 billion was sold. There are no figures as to what part of this was bought by doctors, dentists, and others in the professions, but several program sponsors contacted on this point said it was about half.