You should work with a financial professional who understands your industry.
By Coryanne Hicks, US News & World Report featuring David Koch, CFP®, AIF®, CFA, Senior Wealth Advisor
Dentistry is a unique profession. Dentists work in small businesses in highly regulated industries that can be taxing financially and physically. What other professionals have to spend the majority of their days hunched over an open mouth? While suffering from hunching may not sound like something a financial advisor for dentists could help you with, it’s more relevant than you may think.
“Dentistry is incredibly hard on the body from an ergonomic perspective,” says David Koch, a certified financial planner and senior wealth advisor at Halbert Hargrove. “Being hunched over all day often leads to back problems, and getting a dentist on the right path to retire early will benefit their long-term health incredibly.”
Help planning for early retirement to stave off long-term back problems is only one reason to find a financial advisor who specializes in working with dentists.
Just like you wouldn’t take your Mercedes to a Ford mechanic, dentists should seek out a financial advisor who specializes in helping dentists, says Charlie Massimo, senior vice president and financial advisor at Wealth Enhancement Group. A financial advisor who works with dentists will be the most equipped to help you through the nuanced financial challenges and goals that come with working in dentistry.
What Does a Financial Advisor for Dentists Do?
“Dentists are highly specialized, and dental offices are not only typically small to medium-sized businesses – with all the challenges that would come along with that, such as employee retention, customer retention, marketing (and) accounting – but they are highly regulated as well,” Koch says. It’s important to find a financial advisor who understands both the ins and outs of your business and the regulations governing it.
“Additionally, they may have hundreds of SKUs in their inventory that they need to keep track of,” Koch adds. “Any given dental procedure could use a few dozen products, and if these aren’t stocked appropriately, they’ll have to cancel and reschedule appointments, which will cost them revenue.”
An inefficient inventory system could cost a dental office “tens of thousands of dollars per year,” he says. If your financial advisor isn’t aware of what distinguishes an efficient inventory system from an inefficient one, you’re missing out, financially speaking.
Then there’s finding appropriate financing for large capital expenditures like X-ray machines and dental chairs, and taking advantage of tax deductions when available. And succession planning – which should begin years in advance of selling your business – for when it’s time to take advantage of that back-saving early retirement.
How to Find a Financial Advisor for Dentists
When you are ready to find that financial advisor for dentists, an easy place to start is with your peers. Ask other dentists or distributor representatives in the business if they have an advisor they work with, Koch says.
If you’re attending a networking event or part of a professional association, these can be great sources of referrals, too, Massimo says.
And there’s always good ol’ Google. A quick search for “financial advisor for dentists near me” can lend several great options. But without a referral, it’s even more important to vet any Google search results before signing with them.
What to Look for in a Financial Advisor for Dentists
Naturally, a financial advisor who specializes in dentists should understand how the dentistry business works. “They should know how the front of the office works and how the back of the office works because some of the most value a financial advisor could bring would be in the exit planning,” Koch says.
He suggests finding someone with the Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) certification, which demonstrates the advisor has the necessary knowledge to unlock and maximize the value of your business when it’s time to sell.
You may also want an advisor who works as a fiduciary, as fiduciaries are legally required to always place their clients’ interests first.
Massimo suggests asking the advisor to walk you through how they’ve helped other dentists, and ask for concrete examples of that work in practice.
At the end of the day, you want to make sure the advisor has your back – to prevent those hunching pains and more. “The relationship you share with your advisor is one of the most intimate you will have,” Massimo says. “If you cannot speak openly and honestly, you will never get out of the relationship what you hope.”