“If my future’s so bright, why am I so stressed right now?” That’s how many future and newly graduated doctors, dentists, lawyers and other professionals feel as they trek through their studies, rack up student debt and set up practices with increasing costs. While trying to excel in their calling, financial considerations are important to ensure a rewarding career.
Fortunately, these often sleep-deprived professionals have a dependable ally who believes in their potential. For more than 30 years, Scotiabank has delivered specialized advice and services to professionals at each career stage, from navigating student education financing, to helping build and expand their practice, to providing advice on wealth accumulation.
Passion for their profession
“From the start of their careers, these individuals face a lot of pressure, to be the best in their field, the unexpected challenges at each career stage, plus all of those life events along the way,” observes Maria Annecchini, Scotiabank’s National Director, Healthcare and Professional Business Banking. She describes the range of health providers, such as physicians, dentists, veterinarians and pharmacists, and non-health professionals, from accountants to engineers, lawyers and architects.
“The public only sees how these professionals care for them, not the work and life challenges they face, as both care- and service-providers and as business operators.”
Montreal-based Tom Apostolis, Director and Group Lead of Healthcare and Professional Banking in Eastern Canada, agrees that professionals are ‘quiet entrepreneurs’ who find themselves dealing with complex financial issues.
“They went to school for a specific specialty but suddenly they become landlords, business owners, contractors and employers, so we guide them with all those details.”
Apostolis and his team serve countless newly graduated or seasoned dentists, pharmacists and physicians who decide to open their own clinics across Ontario and Quebec. Even tranquil Atlantic Canada is experiencing a boom, as people ‘move back east.’ This creates opportunities for professionals, but it also drives the costs of buying real estate to establish a practice.
In Vancouver, Charandeep Sandher, Director and Group Lead of Healthcare and Professional Banking for Western Canada, sees similar trends but notes that these professionals are eager to take on new challenges.
“We see professionals getting creative in the way they operate their business, to differentiate themselves from competitors and think about the steps to build wealth for the future,” she explains. “Some decide to open multi-disciplinary practices, creating one-stop service that provides cross-referrals. Others take advantage of the strong real estate market, to buy, rather than lease, a property, to create equity and generate leased space income.”
Though these are exciting opportunities, Sandher points out that they are not easy decisions: “Professionals are very busy doing what they love, so we provide the right team of specialists and partners, and work closely with other experts, from accountants to lawyers to tax specialists, who can give relevant advice, take those issues off their plate, and help them be successful.”
Roller coaster ride to a bright future
The challenges begin from the day an individual decides to pursue their professional dream. “Their studies are very expensive, so young professionals may incur a lot of debt before they start practicing,” says Annecchini. She notes that a healthcare student may rack up more than $300,000 in debt, not including other expenses. “We have programs to help alleviate that pressure while they study, complete their residency or get established in their profession.”
Annecchini and her team reassure young clients that this debt is very manageable once they are active in their profession and their income potential increases, if they get the right financial planning advice: “You need a financial plan from the get go, so it’s important to work with a financial advisor who understands you and can help you adapt that plan as you move through each career and life stage, from student to associate/resident, to practicing, to retirement.”
She adds that Scotiabank provides the full range of professional services, from personal and business banking – including the Scotia Professional Plan – to mortgages and wealth management, sometimes in partnership with MD Financial Management, the Scotiabank division that serves Canada’s physicians and their families. The Bank also collaborates with numerous university and college faculties and professional associations to better understand and serve the diverse and unique needs of professionals.
Whatever the profession, a dedicated Healthcare and Professional Specialist serves as their one point of contact to make all the right connections. “Our client will tell us how and when they want to be served, while they are doing their thing, whether that’s one-on-one meetings at their practice, the nearest branch, or a house call to offer advice on a Sunday afternoon,” says Annecchini.
Advice to reach your potential
Scotiabank’s tailored advice and support was important during COVID-19, which shook up the routines of many professionals. For some, this meant surging demand for services, resulting in doctors, pharmacists and vets expanding their services or opening new locations.
For others, local lock-downs and health restrictions forced some practices to close temporarily, retrofit for safety precautions, or they nudged veteran professionals to consider retirement. This, in turn, created opportunities for next generation professionals to purchase closing practices or introduce tech-enabled virtual consultations.
“We helped with the gamut of challenges they faced,” recounts Apostolis. He describes how the team responded, by calling each client, to explain and offer supports through the various government and bank relief programs available. They also empowered many professionals to grab unfolding opportunities: “With the rising demand for pets during the pandemic, we saw an explosion in veterinary businesses, and we helped a lot of new vets get up and running.”
Sandher notes that their experience in the professionals’ space helped their clients react in these moments: “We can deliver solutions faster and more efficiently than competitors because our specialists know the steps to complete these transactions really well. They’ve either worked proactively with the client to prepare, or they are ready to advise when something comes up.”
That was the case for a recently graduated dentist who turned to his Scotiabank Healthcare and Professional Specialist at each stage of his career. Recalls Sandher, “Our specialist helped solve each financial challenge as he went through school, worked as an associate and decided to set up his own practice. Our Healthcare and Professional Specialist had done many practice build-outs and purchases, so he was able to successfully provide the financing required to purchase the commercial real estate, equipment, tenant improvements and operating credit. Now, our client is up and running and happily referring lots of peers to us.”
Having an advisor who sees your future potential is invaluable, observes Apostolis. He recounts a professional couple who immigrated to Canada with limited short-term prospects. The husband was still studying to get his Canadian credentials and his wife was a medical professional who wanted to open her own local practice. They needed a sizeable loan but had limited income, net worth and management experience.
“They expected us to say ‘No,’ but instead we advised them on the value of working with a team of experts. For example, working with an experienced accountant who could help develop business projections and a revenue model so we could find a solution for their financing needs,” says Apostolis. “To help build a successful practice, we advised the wife to incorporate additional services in her business, and extend her hours, to increase revenue. We went ‘outside the box’ and developed a solution that allowed the couple to manage their debt even if leasable space in their new property was vacant. Now the clinic is open, they are well on their way, and they are starting to invest their surplus income with our Wealth Management partners.”
Sandher notes how rewarding it is to offer such solutions: “Our team absolutely loves working with these professionals and helping them get one step closer to accomplishing their goals.”
“These professionals have gone to school to take care of people, their health, their pets, and doing what they love the most,” concludes Annecchini. “We know that they can absolutely ‘get there’ - and their future is bright - so we bring them the advice to navigate the financial pieces and help make their dreams happen.”