The NAB Health advisory council

The complexities of the health system mean medical practices are not as straightforward as the average business when it comes […]

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The complexities of the health system mean medical practices are not as straightforward as the average business when it comes to financing. Regulation, continual technological advances and changes in public policy all affect the economics of health businesses. Add to that a workforce of professionals whose services are in high demand and you have a sector that requires in-depth understanding from its bankers.

With that in mind, NAB Health formed an advisory council in 2008 to gain the detailed insight that can often come only from an industry insider. The council provides NAB Health with an additional level of understanding on the state of play within various health sectors, enabling bankers to provide advice and solutions that will help practitioners to build their businesses.

Dick Morath, Chairman of the Advisory Council, says the council is first and foremost a forum designed to help identify, pressure-test and fine-tune future strategy for NAB Health and its two other businesses, HICAPS and Medfin.

“The Advisory Council is like having a board of clients who are also significant players within the industry,” he says. “When dealing with this sector, it’s critical to know what really matters – and this is what the council is all about.

Morath adds that health professionals are well informed but time-poor, so in their financial dealings they need to speak to bankers who understand their industry and are on top of current issues.

“They don’t have time to see a whole lot of bankers and financiers and they don’t want their time wasted,” he says. “They need to talk to people who understand their business as a business and how it works for them.”

In-depth insights

Dentist and council member, Dr Bill O’Reilly, has raised issues about financing for upgrading equipment, the difficulty of finding staff and how dentists can sell their businesses when they’re ready to retire.

Fellow council member Nicole Hardwick, a pharmacist, reported that during the recent economic downturn many pharmacy owners were postponing retirement and that businesses with strong revenue from discretionary purchases – a very profitable segment – were exposed to a potential drop in retail spending.

Information like this has helped NAB advise health professionals looking to buy or sell businesses or reviewing personal wealth plans if they were deferring retirement.

The council recently met at Parliament House inCanberrawith policy-makers and others involved in the health arena and discussed with NAB Health how priorities are likely to change under the current government.

Such insight has informed NAB Health and Medfin about government policy to encourage the formation of general practice superclinics, enabling them to be on the front foot to help GPs looking to source finance and take advantage of grants to upgrade their premises.

Meet the council

Comprising hand-picked medical professionals including specialists, aged care, pharmacy, dentistry and veterinary, the council’s members are:

  • Dr Andrew Brooks, aSydneyurologist, counsellor of the Royal AustralasianCollegeofSurgeonsand former President of the Urological Society of Australia andNew Zealand.
  • Associate Professor Stephen Coles, a veterinary specialist and Executive Director of Greencross Vets, the only listed aggregated veterinary company inAustralia.
  • Ms Nicole Hardwick, a pharmacist who owns and operates several pharmacies inMelbourne.
  • Ms Valerie Lyons, CEO of Villa Maria and Board member of HESTA.
  • Associate Professor Bill O’Reilly, aSydneydentist, Independent Chairman of Hotel Employers Mutual and Aged Care Employers Mutual and a former President of the Australian Dental Association.

The council members attend regular NAB Health events and seminars including economic updates, education series and hospitality events. You can speak to your banker about attending a future event.