New-graduate AOA members have access to customized practice loans, financing

April 15, 2013

The good news for optometry school graduates who need financing to purchase or establish a practice in 2013 is that interest rates remain at historically low levels, according to Chad Fleming, O.D., AOAExcel™ business and career coach.

The bad news, however, is that the loan market remains “tight” in the wake of the recent economic downturn, with banks and other financial institutions increasingly conservative in their lending policies.

And, as always, new optometrists face entry into practice without the hard assets that most lending institutions require for loan collateral.

They may not be certain they can quickly generate enough income to repay loans needed to establish an office or meet other financial obligations such as student debt service, Dr. Fleming said.

“Wells Fargo Practice Finance specializes in providing the resources and support doctors need to establish a strong foundation for and growth of their practice,” Dr. Fleming said. “Their customized financing and educational platform were developed to assist doctors through every type of career transition — from purchasing a practice to building, equipping, expanding or selling their facilities.”

“Customized practice financing is the process of designing a loan package that meets as closely as possible a practitioner’s specific monthly budget requirements and preferred payment terms (number of years for loan repayment), while providing the best interest rates available,” said Rhonda Meyer, Wells Fargo Practice Finance vice president and regional manager. “We carefully calculate all of these factors when designing each custom financing package.”

Customized financing options can be used for practice acquisition, start-up, construction (including ground-up, remodel, expansion and leasehold improvements), new equipment purchases, and working capital lines of credit.

Up to 100 percent financing is available at competitive fixed rates, with deferred repayment programs available for practice acquisition loans, and graduated repayment options for start-up practices.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance offers repayment programs based primarily on the income of the practice – a concept they term “performance-based lending” – allowing practitioners with fewer accumulated assets to more easily purchase, build, sustain and grow a practice, Meyer said.

Many lenders offer only predetermined financing packages with set terms and fees.

However, the AOAExcel™ Wells Fargo Practice Finance program offers preferred pricing for AOA members and has flexibility to provide customized services, based on each client’s particular needs, Dr. Fleming said.

Clients are automatically enrolled in Wells Fargo Practice Finance’s signature Practice Success Program, which provides personal service and professional support including free project consultation, practical business planning tools, relevant educational resources, and referrals to qualified professionals who can assist in all aspects of managing a practice.

“We help administer the financial details of a project so doctors can stay focused on what really matters — their patients,” Meyer said. “While other lenders finalize a relationship when they deliver the funds, the Practice Finance team is just getting started, providing vendor referrals, tracking invoices and coordinating payment schedules to ensure clients are satisfied and the project stays on schedule.”

Wells Fargo Practice Finance clients tend to be solo practitioners or practice partners who are investing in a significant career or practice transition.

In many cases, they are new practitioners pursuing practice acquisition or start-up, Meyer noted. However many are established practitioners who are interested in remodeling or expanding a practice.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance offers services through specialized business development managers in 17 regions across the nation.

Interested practitioners can contact a Wells Fargo Practice Finance business development manager — or order a copy of the Wells Fargo Practice Finance New Doctor Planner with information on optometric career planning — by calling 877-207-5395 or logging onto www.excelod.com/practice-finance.

* All practice financing is subject to credit approval.

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