Money & Me: 'I sold my polo ponies to fund my business'

Dr David Roze set up his dental clinic in 2013 using proceeds from the sale and funds from his brother

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Dr. David Roze in his clinic at Dr. Roze and Associates Clinic, Dubai.  Leslie Pableo for The National for David Dunn’s story
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Dr David Roze is an oral surgeon and founder of Dubai’s Dr Roze & Associates Clinic, where his wife, Agnes, is also a dentist. They live with their two daughters, 19 and 15, and 17-year-old son near Safa Park. Growing up in France, Dr Roz, now 44, learned violin with the French Conservatoire of Music before embarking on a dentistry career, relocating to Dubai in 2003.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

My father was a business owner, a consultant; he trained people to raise their profile and do better at work. We didn’t lack money, but it wasn’t a very wealthy family; wealthy in love, I’d say. Mother was a housewife. I was the youngest (of three boys). We had everything we needed until I remember one schoolmate coming to my house and criticising its size. That hurt. I was probably seven or eight. That day, I decided I wanted a big villa.

We talked a lot of business in the family at dinnertime. My grandparents were also business owners; probably it runs in my veins to be independent or have business experience. My father was also a musician. I would play violin two hours per day. It gave us discipline for hard work, but I wasn’t good enough to be professional. I wanted to be manual, didn’t want to spend time behind a desk. I was always caring, wanting to help people. It (dentistry) was a good match. I didn’t choose it for the money. It happened to be successful.

What brought you to Dubai?

We wanted another challenge, to have this experience. For dentists it is difficult to work abroad because you settle your practice and patients. My wife found this ad in one of the dental journals and we had this chance to work together in the same clinic, for 10 years, and then decided to open this clinic in 2013. It was always in the back of my mind. I had some serious help, especially from my brother Erwan. He’s a banker in New York, supported me financially and morally. When you have someone holding your back, it helps you to go forward, be successful.

How much were you paid in your first job?

We always worked during summer (as kids). I did a few things. I worked for McDonald’s, 20 Francs (Dh12) an hour, but I lasted one month. They fired me. I was 17, not fast enough (on the hot plate). At the time it was five years for the first degree (in dentistry). At the end of the fifth year you have one year for your thesis. You can work in another practice, so that was my first job, really. I was 22, a tremendous salary for me at the time, probably 2,500 euros (Dh10,400) a month. Then I went to internship and got paid half that.


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Are you a spender or a saver?

I would say both, but I’m more into goals. If that means saving for five years, I will.

Where do you save?

We have liquid and illiquid assets. I diversify. We have a safe where we have different currencies. I love to invest in start-ups; I use Beehive. It’s one of the best returns you can find. Small businesses - you help them and at the same time make money. Also we had an opportunity to buy shares in an African business, in the Maasai Mara. For 10 years we’ve invested in this lodge and safari with the kids. Asset-wise it was not the best investment but memory-wise it’s the best I could have done.

What car do you drive?

A Bentley. I saved for 10 years because I wanted this car. It’s black and red inside; my football team, Rennes, is black and red. It’s good sometimes when patients have been having a difficult treatment to bring them back to their home - I don’t want them to drive because it can be dangerous. I wanted them to be at ease. Sometimes I drive them; sometimes we have drivers help the patients. I got it a year ago. I didn’t want to take a loan. For this kind of thing, I prefer to save. It gives me a goal. Then when I have the money, and a good deal, I jump for it.

Are you wise with money?

It’s probably not wise to spend that much on a car; Dh850,000. It makes sense in that I could I could use it within the business, but it’s not a business car. We don’t spare any money for equipment. It’s important to have a great dentist, but if you don’t have the tools it doesn’t make sense.

What are your luxuries?

Polo. Playing polo or just riding, you switch off and don’t think about anything else. It brings me back to nature. I played before I set up the clinic. Then I sold my four polo horses. They’re time consuming because you have to go there every day. It didn’t make sense financially or time-wise. I had them two or three years. I needed the money for the business.

Now I just rent (horses) and have lessons.

But for me the most precious thing is to spend time with my family, do things where we have memories. I can spend a lot of money on a holiday or a special trip for my kids, something we will remember. I love paying for my wife to do a trip every year with her friends to climb a mountain.

What is your best investment?

The clinic … taking the jump. I had to make it, to do it my way. It was not to have my ‘kingdom’. For me it’s important to have a team and this spirit, to have people who work together and understand each other.

What is your most cherished purchase?

When I got my first job as a dentist I earned quite a good amount and purchased a gift for my wife; a small Cartier ring.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Dr. David Roze in his clinic at Dr. Roze and Associates Clinic, Dubai.  Leslie Pableo for The National for David Dunn’s story

Is there anything you regret spending money on?

I’m not the kind to regret. I prefer to try, even if I don’t succeed. I learn, but never regret. It also doesn’t make sense to live life by your neighbour, wanting to be like him or her.

Do you prefer paying by cash or credit card?

Apple Pay is my main way. It’s more convenient. It’s like a debit card. I know exactly what I have in my account. Cash is old fashioned. I have a credit card but if I can I avoid using it…

Do you plan for the future?

My kids are 19, 17 and 15. For the next eight years I have to pay for their education. Also, I’m investing into new types of business, start-ups, focusing on AI. I think dentistry in 10 years will be completely different. I’m trying to see how it will be and to reach there before the competition.

What would you raid your savings for?

Art. I love art and spend a lot of time at exhibitions. It’s an investment but I can enjoy it on my walls. I saved for four years for once piece because I wanted it.