Financing your future

smallRay Cox discusses how in today’s financial world it is important for dentists to have a sound foundation in the business elements of the profession

When we think about progressing our careers or expanding our practice, many dental professionals place the most reverence on gaining additional clinical skills. Some consider specialising in a specific area of dentistry or training to provide additional cosmetic procedures. But have you ever thought about honing your business skills to enhance your financial capabilities?

There is no doubt that UK universities produce clinically excellent dental professionals. However, our education system does not provide them with any business training, unlike systems implemented across the world such as in the USA. UK dental professionals have access to a wealth of postgraduate education, which, apart from clinical training, mostly deals with lifestyle aspects, HR or marketing. There are not many straightforward banking and accountancy programmes and while a principal dentist might be very good at promoting their business, speaking to their patients and managing staff, a lack of financial understanding could leave them going progressively bankrupt. I feel that it would be wise for emerging dentists to place the importance of business and finance skills on an equal footing to their clinical armamentarium.

Also, the financial terrain has changed in recent decades. Around 35 years ago it was easy for dentists to secure as much finance as they wanted. Due to their professional qualifications, dentists were considered good creditors and banks didn’t really mind what the money was intended for. Equally, there was not the myriad of technology to purchase either, so setting up a practice was much easier and far less expensive than it is now.
To some extent many elements of setting up or running a dental business do not change very significantly over time. I think there is still a good living to be earned in dentistry but dentists now need to have good business skills in order to achieve it. Tomorrow’s principals therefore need to be even more business conscious than their predecessors. I also personally believe that NHS dentistry will not survive past the next 10 to 15 years, placing more importance on the need for dentists to focus on business and finance for the sake of their future livelihoods.

No free ride

In today’s modern business world, no one gets a free ride anymore. Dentists are no longer able to secure the finances they require to run a practice if they are not capable of first convincing the banking industry that they are worthy of obtaining the money and that they know how to use it successfully.
At The Dentistry Show I will discuss the ways that dental professionals can secure finance and the demands within the money markets that they need to meet in order to obtain those funds. I will be speaking as part of the Dental Business Theatre presenting a session entitled ‘Financing the future of your dental practice’, offering advice to delegates to help them build a business foundation from the very beginning of their careers right through to retirement.

There is a strange misconception in the minds of some people, that you cannot be ethical and successful in the business side of dentistry without cutting clinical corners. If a dentist’s clinical skill is lacking, it will be exposed wherever they chose to work and however they run their business. The majority of dentists share a passion for their work and strive to be clinically excellent, and in order to enjoy all the benefits of providing quality services the business finances must be in place. I believe that after investing in training and education, dentists should be paid for the crafts they exercise and making money from dentistry does not, in any sense, mean that they have to sacrifice clinical excellence or competency.

In many cases the financial health of a practice depends on the amount of interest a dentist is prepared to take in the business. I am very happy to speak at The Dentistry Show and I hope to pass on valuable business knowledge and advice to dentists.


Ray Cox is managing director of Medifinance and has more than 30 years’ experience in providing funding and business advice to the healthcare professions.

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