Dr. Bill Kortesis: “Investing During The Pandemic; What Should I Do With My Money Considering All Of The Volatility & Uncertainty Today”

Jason Hartman
Jun 2, 2020 · 9 min read

I tend to be optimistic by nature. With that being said it is important to understand the situation and place perspective on the matter. Historically, despite the ill of the world that has happened, humanity has prevailed, and we tend to get through it. And with all the financial crises of the past that have had similar consequences, we have prevailed and gotten through it. I bet on us to get through this well. We will prevail and we will get thru it and come out stronger

As a part of my series about “Investing During The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bill Kortesis MD.

Bill Kortesis, MD, FACS is bridging the gap between finance, technology, and medicine. He currently serves on fourteen medical and/or tech advisory boards and serves as a MedTech Investment Advisor to many VCs. He is the Co-Owner & Managing Partner of H/K/B Cosmetic Surgery in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you into the financial side of the aesthetic industry and health tech industry?

One of the things that always intrigued me about plastic surgery was the business/financial side. It has been one of the main reasons that I got into the speciality. Always an entrepreneur by heart… and once an entrepreneur always an entrepreneur . I started in my family restaurant at an early age to help make our family business better.

Now it is the passion to make medicine better and the aesthetic space better. Create a better situation for patients and help bring better and new technology to the world.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occured to you in the investment/financial side of your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

One of the most important lessons from an entrepreneur is how to win even if you are losing. What I realized is that everyone remembers the wins and advances and not necessarily the loss. And you have to take every loss as a learning opportunity. A way to improve, a way to get better , a way to get better .

So one of the interesting stories, and hardest is the loss of an unsuccessful opportunity/venture . And unfortunately every entrepreneur does fail at some point . But we have to use it for an opportunity to learn, improve, and do better next time.

For me, my first loss was an exciting restaurant concept that I developed with some friends. Despite a great menu, a great brand, and a much needed concept , we failed. And unfortunately we failed because we chose a poor location. What I learned is that you have to stick to your basic tenets of business. Can’t lose sight of the basics.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

One of the most exciting opportunities I am working on is the expansion of my practice. I am looking at merging and acquiring a few practices to a much larger group. My hope is to create more opportunities and jobs for providers and staff. In addition, I want to create a more efficient way of practicing plastic surgery and aesthetic medicine. I am also looking into the advantages of partnering with private equity groups to enhance this model. We hope to provide efficiencies that scale can bring. There are challenges to scale , but my hope is to merge the uniqueness of a boutique practice with the efficiencies of scale.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I owe everything to my parents. They showed me how hard work and determination and grit are key characteristics that can lead you far in life. My parents immigrated from Greece without any money and without knowing the English language. From that starting point, they become successful business owners in the restaurant industry and in real estate. They showed me that perseverance and pure grit can get you to where you need to go … you just got to dream it and will it your way.

Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

I tend to be optimistic by nature. With that being said it is important to understand the situation and place perspective on the matter. Historically, despite the ill of the world that has happened, humanity has prevailed, and we tend to get through it. And with all the financial crises of the past that have had similar consequences, we have prevailed and gotten through it. I bet on us to get through this well. We will prevail and we will get thru it and come out stronger

But I also believe that this trouble creates innovation and change. And this can be everlasting and create a better opportunity. There is a distinct opportunity for us to have multiple innovations that will be created … there may be a multitude of companies that are born from this.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know the stock market and the economy in general have become extremely volatile and uncertain. Many people “dollar cost average” and put aside a monthly sum into a long term savings plan for retirement, college, or a home purchase. If a loved one or a client came to you and said, “I have been saving and investing $500 every month in an S&P 500 index fund. Over the next few months until the dust settles, should I be doing something else with my money?”, what would you say to them?

This is a great time to invest … and honestly opportunities like this don’t come around all the time. This is a time to look at companies (equities ) that are slightly undervalued and invest more. Your common initial thought would be to hold tight, or pull out of the market. But this is a time to really dig in deep and actually invest more. Find companies that have strong balance sheets, have great products and leaders and invest. I like Apple, Amazon, netflix, Nike, the financial markets like Wells Fargo, Jp morgan chase, . I also like robotic surgical markets and regenerative medicine . They will pave the way for future surgery .

Eventually the economy will recover and rebound. Certain sectors, like travel and hospitality might be hurting for a while. But other sectors, like technology and healthcare, might do very well. If someone wanted to prepare today to take advantage of the future recovery, what would you suggest they do?

I do think America will rebound and do so well. It may take a little while to do so (either a V or U recovery)… I personally think a U recovery myself. We will see a slightly lower demand and then a slow ramp up back. But this all remains based on getting a vaccine or a cure for the virus. Once that is done, then we will see a fast uptick. We just need demand to be there. ANd americans to have jobs.

But again take advantage of stocks at a discount now. I do believe that pharmaceutical companies will continue to do well. Healthcare is also prime for taking advantage of. We are pushing to create technologies and efficiencies that will forever change the landscape. Healthcare has been one of the last sectors to participate in change. Therefore, technologies that have been used in other industries for awhile have been absent in healthcare. We are now adopting these new technologies. And it will far advance other sectors in the future. Therefore healthcare is at the forefront of this recovery. And lets watch how we respond in the future to potential future threats that are out there.

Are there sectors that provide exciting and lucrative investment opportunities today, specifically because of the volatility and uncertainty?

I love the financial markets (bank and payment technology stocks). More so now than in the past we see how banks have stepped up to help. We will need more of this in the future. I love healthcare companies and healthcare tech including pharmaceutical companies.

Are there alternative investments that you think more people should look more deeply at?

I have always loved real estate . Physicians should look at owners occupying their own space as a long term investment . I would also look at private equity as a vehicle for potential growth. I would avoid all other commercial real estate at the present moment because the movement away from retail and towards online shopping. THerefore REITS and small commercial properties will see a loss in the near future.

If a person in their thirties and forties came to you today and said that they have $10,000 that they want to put away today for a long term investment what would you advise them to do with it?

I would ask to evaluate their life and what products they use that they just can’t live without … a few stocks come to mind (apple, google, netflix, amazon)… I would split the money evenly thru those equities. They have been devalued because of the coronavirus but will rebound over the company’s lifetime. What better time to buy equities.

Ok, thank you! Here is a more general finance question. You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

Save money and limit expenses, live well below your means at all times, don’t over leverage yourself. These are general principles that everyone should live by. But some debt can be good and know those differences

Always be on top of tax laws and tax savings. Know how to best avoid paying too much. The wealthy know all of these.

Learn by examples of how all the individuals with money made their money — — learn by example.

Avoid the piranhas in the water — — people want what you have . There will always be those around you that want to take advantage of you.

Dream and dream big … will never ever get to where you want to go unless you think you can.

But do give back … it is really important to do so. We have to help those around us.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Doesn’t matter where you come from, what you have or don’t have… All you need to have is faith in God, an undying passion for what you do and what you choose to do in this life, and a relentless drive and the will to do whatever it takes to be successful in whatever you put your mind to. — Stephen Curry

You have a passion and drive to be relentless. Same goes for your money and your personal balance sheet. Therefore I named my holding company Relentless Capital.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Help those around you … the key is the help the next generation succeed. Do not take success for granted but help the youth to succeed. Give back whenever you can … with great success comes great responsibility .. even spiderman knew that we have to give back.

In addition, we have to protect the earth and everything on it. Don’t take the environment for granted and let’s take care of the earth.

Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!

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