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The FD Centre COVID-19 Update: The UK’s Government Support Programme for Businesses

To download the update, including the full appendix, click on the following link: FDC_Covid 19 Government Business Support Measures 06.04.20

Following the announcement by Rishi Sunak on 26th March I have set out below the support measures from Government for businesses in respect of the Covid-19 Pandemic. I have paid particular attention to the clarifications issued yesterday on the Job Retention Scheme, and the announcement on support for the self-employed. Rather than detail out the summary page from gov.uk on business support, Appendix A now provides a link to that page and other links to some key information sources which are more specific on each measure announced.

The Support Measures for Businesses:

  1. Support for self-employed through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.
  2. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
  3. Deferring of VAT and Income Tax payments. No VAT payment is due for the quarters ended:
    29 February due 7 April
    31 March due 7 May
    30 April due 7 June
    No application is required, but if you pay by DD you will need to cancel it as HMRC will take it automatically, you will need to set up another DD in due course. Payment will be due before 5 April 2021.
    The self-employed are eligible for the deferral of Income Tax – payments due under self-assessment on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021. As with the deferral of VAT no application is required and this is an automatic measure, and there will be no penalties or interest in the deferral period.
  4. Loans and guarantees to support firms and help them manage cashflows through this period. The Chancellor will make available an initial £330 billion of guarantees, equivalent to 15% of UK GDP, with a commitment to make more available should demand require it. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) will offer loans of up to £5 million, committing that businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free
  5. Support for liquidity amongst large firms, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England to help them bridge Coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans.
  6. Providing £20 billion of business rates support and grant funding to help the most affected firms manage their cashflow through this period by:
    – giving all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months.
    – £10,000 grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief.
    – providing further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000.
    Local Authorities will contact the relevant businesses directly there is no need to contact the relevant Local Authority.
  7. Statutory sick pay relief for up to 2 weeks of SSP for employers with less than 250 employees. For Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) refunds, the details are being worked out, more details will follow from government. Employers should keep records of the SSP paid in this period in order that they can claim a refund from Government later.
  8. Ability for self-employed and businesses struggling to pay their tax to defer payment through HMRC’s “Time to Pay” scheme. The Time to Pay (TTP) Scheme is operated on a case by case basis, contact HMRC to apply for this.
  9. Extra protection for businesses with ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments over the next 3 months.

More on the support for self-employed through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme:

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

This scheme will allow the self-employed to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed. COVID-19

The scheme is available to self-employed individuals or members of a partnership that:

  • have submitted an Income Tax Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
  • traded in the tax year 2019-20
  • are trading when they apply for the scheme, or would be except for COVID-19
  • intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
  • have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19

The self-employed trading profits must also be less than £50,000 and more than half of the individual’s income must come from self-employment. This is determined by at least one of the following conditions being true:

  • having trading profits/partnership trading profits in 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of the individual’s total taxable income.
  • having average trading profits in 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of the individual’s average taxable income in the same period.

If an individual started trading between 2016-19, HMRC will only use those years for which they have filed a Self-Assessment tax return. The government have extended the deadline for submitting Income Tax Self-Assessment tax returns for the tax year 2018-19, to 23 April 2020, thereby allowing late filers to qualify for this scheme.

HMRC will use data on 2018-19 returns already submitted to identify those eligible and will risk assess any late returns filed before the 23 April 2020 deadline in the usual way.

How much individuals will receive:

Those eligible for the scheme will receive a taxable grant which will be 80% of the average profits from the tax years (where applicable):

  • 2016 to 2017
  • 2017 to 2018
  • 2018 to 2019

To work out the average HMRC will add together the total trading profit for the 3 tax years (where applicable) then divide by 3 (where applicable), using this to calculate a monthly amount.
It will be up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for 3 months. Grants will be paid directly into individual bank accounts, in one instalment per claimant.

Please note: The scheme is not open yet.
HMRC will contact individuals if they are eligible for the scheme and invite them to apply online. Those seeking to claim do not need to contact HMRC now.

Once HMRC has received an eligible claim for the grant, they will contact the claimant to tell them how much they will receive and the payment details.

If an individual claims tax credits they will need to include the grant in their tax credit claim as income.

More on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme:

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1 March 2020. The Government expects the scheme to be up and running by the end of April. It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Employers can use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. Employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.

The scheme is open to all UK employers that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on 28 February 2020. Any UK organisation with employees can apply, including:

  • businesses
  • charities
  • recruitment agencies (agency workers paid through PAYE)
  • public authorities

Employers must have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020 and have a UK bank account.

Where a company is being taken under the management of an administrator, the administrator will be able to access the Job Retention Scheme.

Public sector organisations:

The government expects that the scheme will not be used by many public sector organisations, as most public sector employees are continuing to provide essential public services or contribute to the response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, it is not expected that staff will be furloughed. This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs. In a small number of cases, for example where organisations are not primarily funded by the government and whose staff cannot be redeployed to assist with the coronavirus response, the scheme may be appropriate for some staff.

What employees can be claimed for:

Furloughed employees must have been on the PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020, and can be on any type of contract, including:

  • full-time employees
  • part-time employees
  • employees on agency contracts
  • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts

The scheme also covers employees who were made redundant since 28 February 2020, if they are rehired by their employer.

To be eligible for the subsidy, when on furlough, an employee can not undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue. While on furlough, the employee’s wage will be subject to usual income tax and other deductions.

This scheme is only for employees on agency contracts who are not working.

If an employee is working, but on reduced hours, or for reduced pay, they will not be eligible for this scheme and you will have to continue paying the employee through your payroll and pay their salary subject to the terms of the employment contract you agreed.

Employers should discuss with their staff and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement. When employers are making decisions in relation to the process, including deciding who to offer furlough to, equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way.

To be eligible for the subsidy employers should write to their employee confirming that they have been furloughed and keep a record of this communication.

Employees hired after 28 February 2020 cannot be furloughed or claimed for in accordance with this scheme.COVID-19

You do not need to place all your employees on furlough. However, those employees who you do place on furlough cannot undertake work for you.

If an employee is on unpaid leave they cannot be furloughed, unless they were placed on unpaid leave after 28 February.

If an employee is on Statutory Sick Pay or self-isolating should get Statutory Sick Pay, but can be furloughed after this.

Employees who are shielding in line with public health guidance can be placed on furlough.

If an employee has more than one job they can be furloughed for each job. Each job is separate, and the cap applies to each employer individually.

If an employee does volunteer work or training, they can be furloughed and take part in volunteer work or training, as long as it does not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation.

However, if workers are required to for example, complete online training courses whilst they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least the NLW/NMW for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.

Employees on Maternity Leave, contractual adoption pay, paternity pay or shared parental pay:

Individuals who are on or plan to take Maternity Leave must take at least 2 weeks off work (4 weeks if they work in a factory or workshop) immediately following the birth of their baby. This is a health and safety requirement. In practice, most women start their Maternity Leave before they give birth.

If an employee is eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance, the normal rules apply, and they are entitled to claim up to 39 weeks of statutory pay or allowance.

Employees who qualify for SMP, will still be eligible for 90% of their average weekly earnings in the first 6 weeks, followed by 33 weeks of pay paid at 90% of their average weekly earnings or the statutory flat rate (whichever is lower). The statutory flat rate is currently £148.68 a week, rising to £151.20 a week from April 2020.

If an employer offers enhanced (earnings related) contractual pay to women on Maternity Leave, this is included as wage costs that you can claim through the scheme.

The same principles apply where your employee qualifies for contractual adoption, paternity or shared parental pay.

What can be claimed:

Employers need to make a claim for wage costs through this scheme.

Employers will receive a grant from HMRC to cover the lower of 80% of an employee’s regular wage or £2,500 per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage. Fees, commission and bonuses should not be included.

At a minimum, employers must pay their employee the lower of 80% of their regular wage or £2,500 per month. An employer can also choose to top up an employee’s salary beyond this but is not obliged to under this scheme.

HMRC will issue more guidance on how employers should calculate their claims for Employer National Insurance Contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions, before the scheme becomes live.

Full time and part time employees

For full time and part time salaried employees, the employee’s actual salary before tax, as of 28 February should be used to calculate the 80%. Fees, commission and bonuses should not be included.

Employees whose pay varies

If the employee has been employed (or engaged by an employment business) for a full twelve months prior to the claim, employers can claim for the higher of either:

  • the same month’s earning from the previous year
  • average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year

If the employee has been employed for less than a year, employers can claim for an average of their monthly earnings since they started work.

If the employee only started in February 2020, employers should use a pro-rata for their earnings so far to claim.

Once employers have worked out how much of an employee’s salary can be claimed for, they must then work out the amount of Employer National Insurance Contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions you are entitled to claim.

Employer National Insurance and Pension Contributions

All employers remain liable for associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on behalf of their furloughed employees.

Employers can claim a grant from HMRC to cover wages for a furloughed employee, equal to the lower of 80% of an employee’s regular salary or £2,500 per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on paying those wages.

Employers can choose to provide top-up salary in addition to the grant. Employer National Insurance Contributions and automatic enrolment contribution on any additional top-up salary will not be funded through this scheme. Nor will any voluntary automatic enrolment contributions above the minimum mandatory employer contribution of 3% of income above the lower limit of qualifying earnings (which is £512 per month until 5th April and will be £520 per month from 6th April 2020 onwards).

National Living Wage/National Minimum Wage

Individuals are only entitled to the National Living Wage (NLW)/National Minimum Wage (NMW) for the hours they are working.

Therefore, furloughed workers, who are not working, must be paid the lower of 80% of their salary, or £2,500 even if, based on their usual working hours, this would be below NLW/NMW.

However, if workers are required to for example, complete online training courses whilst they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least the NLW/NMW for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.

What employers need to make a claim

Employers should discuss with their staff and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement. Employers may need to seek legal advice on the process. If sufficient numbers of staff are involved, it may be necessary to engage collective consultation processes to procure agreement to changes to terms of employment.

To claim, employers will need:

  • their ePAYE reference number
  • the number of employees being furloughed
  • the claim period (start and end date)
  • amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 weeks)
  • their bank account number and sort code
  • a contact name at the employer
  • and a contact phone number

Employers will need to calculate the amount they are claiming. HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of your claim.

Employers can only submit one claim at least every 3 weeks, which is the minimum length an employee can be furloughed for. Claims can be backdated until the 1 March if applicable.

Once HMRC have received an eligible claim, they will pay it via BACS payment to a UK bank account.

Employers should make a claim in accordance with actual payroll amounts at the point at which you run your payroll or in advance of an imminent payroll.

Employers must pay their employees all the grant received for their gross pay, no fees can be charged from the money that is granted. Employers can choose to top up the employee’s salary, but they do not have to.

When the government ends the scheme

When the government ends the scheme, employers must decide, depending on circumstances, as to whether employees can return to their duties. If not, it may be necessary to consider termination of employment (redundancy).

Employees that have been furloughed

Employees that have been furloughed have the same rights as they did previously. That includes Statutory Sick Pay entitlement, maternity rights, other parental rights, rights against unfair dismissal and to redundancy payments.

Once the scheme has been closed by the government, HMRC will continue to process remaining claims before terminating the scheme.

Income tax and Employee National Insurance

Wages of furloughed employees will be subject to Income Tax and National Insurance as usual. Employees will also pay automatic enrolment contributions on qualifying earnings, unless they have chosen to opt-out or to cease saving into a workplace pension scheme.

Employers will be liable to pay Employer National Insurance contributions on wages paid, as well as automatic enrolment contributions on qualifying earnings unless an employee has opted out or has ceased saving into a workplace pension scheme.

Tax Treatment of the Coronavirus Job Retention Grant

Payments received by a business under the scheme are made to offset these deductible revenue costs. They must therefore be included as income in the business’s calculation of its taxable profits for Income Tax and Corporation Tax purposes, in accordance with normal principles.

Businesses can deduct employment costs as normal when calculating taxable profits for Income Tax and Corporation Tax purposes.

More on the Ban on Evictions for Commercial Tenants

The Government has announced that commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. These measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months. As commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent after this period, the government is also actively monitoring the impact on commercial landlords’ cash flow and continues to be in dialogue with them.

Further Considerations to assist cashflow:

In addition to the measures above outlined by Government, consideration can also be given to:

Corporation Tax payments. Corporation tax isn’t currently included within TTP but HMRC have indicated that a deferment can be requested through the Coronavirus helpline. Similarly, HMRC will consider whether late filing penalties and potentially late payment interest can be temporarily rescinded. A decision will be made on a case by case basis, but based on the feedback we have so far, HMRC is being sympathetic to business needs. Please note: It is critical in all cases to speak to HMRC proactively and in advance of the payment due date.

Quarterly instalment payments (QIPs) and expediting repayments. If your business is required to make QIPs it will be important you re-calculate taxable profit estimates for the current period based on revised forecasts. Making the right tax payments now can have a significantly positive impact on cash flow. If you are a large business that has paid corporation tax by making QIPs throughout the year but circumstances have changed significantly as a result of the pandemic and profits have been revised downwards, it is possible to request a repayment of overpaid tax from HMRC, rather than waiting until the tax return is filed and processed by HMRC. This can significantly expedite the repayment process.

There are also ongoing discussions between HMRC and the large accounting firms in respect of:

  • Earlier utilisation of losses: If your business is forecasting an overall loss for the current financial year, these losses may be able to be utilised to offset corporation tax in the previous financial year. Ordinarily a loss carry-back claim cannot be made until the tax return for the later period has been prepared and submitted to HMRC. HMRC have been lobbied to consider whether there is any flexibility to make a loss carry back claim at an earlier time, given the number of businesses that it could support, where losses generated are due to Coronavirus
  • If your business is not already making an R&D tax relief claim, but you think you may be eligible, consider this opportunity as soon as possible. Note it is possible to look back up to two financial years to make a claim. We are aware that HMRC is being lobbied to expedite the approval and payment process for R&D claims under both the Small Medium sized Entity (SME) and R&D Expenditure Credit (RDEC) schemes, which would provide welcome positive cash flow for businesses that have already submitted their claims, or are about to do so.

Nevil Durrant – CFO at The FD Centre

If you would like to speak to one of our Senior Financial Directors about the Government measures and how they can help your business, click here.

Growth Through Acquisition

To accelerate the growth of your company and organic growth doesn’t appeal, consider merging with or acquiring another company. In this article, we’ll go through the about your business tips for growth through acquisition.

Such a move can help business owners like you to grow your top line and profitability, says the FD Centre’s FD East of England North, Lynda Connon. 

A successful merger or acquisition can also give your company access to your target company’s technology, skillsets, markets, and target customers.

If the target company is in a different industry, the merger or acquisition can help to diversify and mitigate risk. 

Considering a diversification strategy like this is valuable if there is any doubt about your company’s prospects for long-term profitability.

The standard form of acquisition is when one company (the acquiring company) buys another company. 

It does this by either buying all the shares in the acquired company or by purchasing its assets. The shell company is then liquidated.

Types of Mergers

Likewise, there are several types of mergers, including

  •         Horizontal merger (in which you merge with a company in your industry)
  •         Vertical merger (in which your target company is at a different production stage or place in the value chain)
  •         Product-extension merger (in which your target company sells different but related products in the same market)
  •         Market-extension merger (in which your target company sells the same products as your own but in a separate market)
  •         Conglomerate merger (in which your target company is in a different industry and has different products or services).

Growth through acquisition has many benefits, including the following:

  •         To achieve a lower cost of capital
  •         To improve your company’s performance and boost growth
  •         To achieve higher revenues
  •         To reduce expenses
  •         To achieve economies of scale
  •         To diversify your product or service offering in your existing markets or move into new markets
  •         To increase market share and positioning
  •         To achieve tax benefits
  •         To diversify risk
  •         To make a strategic realignment or change in technology
  •         To obtain new technology, more efficient production, or patents, and licenses.

Dangers of mergers and acquisitions

As beneficial as mergers and acquisitions (M&As) may be, particularly in terms of achieving fast revenue growth, they are not for the faint-hearted. 

The merger or acquisition process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. Depending on such factors as whether the target company is a public or private entity, the negotiations, legislation, and the involvement of financial institutions and other stakeholders.

“The actual transaction can be done very quickly if you’ve identified your target and if all parties are keen to go ahead and legals can be put in place,” says Connon. 

“But typically, a merger or an acquisition takes several months.”

But you also need to factor in the time that will be involved in the identification of suitable target companies as well as the post-acquisition integration.

The post-acquisition integration can take anywhere from six to 12 months, she explains. 

“So the actual transaction itself can be done very, very quickly. It’s the process of identifying the target and making sure it’s something that will work for your organisation as a combined entity and making it happen after you’ve done the deal.”

It’s estimated that of all M&As, 70% to 90% fail for various reasons. 

Many failures are due to a lack of strategic planning and incomplete due diligence, according to Connon. 

They also fail if there is a poor strategic fit between the two companies, a poorly managed integration or an overly optimistic projection of the target company.

The result is a failed growth strategy and a large number of lost opportunities.

Successful merger or acquisition strategy

Growth Through Acquisition So, how can you be sure of being in the 10% to 30% who achieve successful acquisitions or mergers?

Before even starting your search for target companies, it’s essential that you clarify your acquisition strategy and reason for merging with or acquiring a company, says Connon.

Most successful acquisitions happen when companies have identified and understood their own acquisition strategy, says Connon. 

They have clarified the company’s direction over the next two to five years, understand the market challenges for their core business, and know the gaps in their own portfolios and skillsets.

“They also take time to identify potential targets and to subtly review and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each of those target companies,” she adds. 

“Post-acquisition, the ones that tend to fail are the ones where acquiring companies haven’t taken the time to really understand their own strategy or market challenges and what they want from an acquisition. Often, it’s been done for emotional reasons rather than good, sound business reasons. Those companies will typically fail.”

To develop your acquisition strategy, you’ll need to be clear about what you hope to achieve. What is your business model? What do you want to do? Do you want to grow income, to improve profitability, to enhance cash flow? Where are the market challenges in your sector and can you address them all? If you can’t, do you need to make an acquisition? Do you need to merge?

If you conclude that a merger or acquisition is desirable and will be beneficial in the long-term, then you need to develop an “identikit” of what that potential company looks like. 

Every company you consider should be evaluated against the metrics you’ve decided upon.

“Don’t get distracted by personal judgement. If you stick to the metrics you’re looking for, you’re more likely to make a successful acquisition,” she adds.

Due diligence

You and your team of M&A experts need to carry out due diligence and investigate the target company’s business, people (particularly crucial personnel), records and key documents. 

The point of the due diligence process is to uncover any inherent risks in the target business. To question the value placed on the investment or acquisition price and to identify critical issues.

Your M&A team should ask questions and request documentation about the following areas:

  •         Corporate information, including the company structure, shareholders or option holders and directors
  •         Business and assets, including your business plan, assets and contracts with both customers and suppliers
  •         Finance including details of all company borrowings and loan agreements, cash flow statement, business reports, plus all tax liabilities and VAT returns
  •         Human Resources including details of contracts for directors and employees
  •         IP and IT, including information about IPs, owned or used by the target company and the software and equipment that are used
  •         Pension plans that are in place for directors and employees
  •         Litigation including details of any disputes or legal proceedings the company is involved with now or in the future along with licenses or regulatory agreements it has
  •         Property including information of real estate that’s owned or leased by the target business
  •         Insurance policy details along with recent or future claims
  •         Health and safety policies that are in place
  •         Data protection, including information about how sensitive data is stored and protected and reassurance the target company is compliant with data protection laws

Post-acquisition or merger

You should use your original strategy to measure its success, whether that’s income growth of 25% or improved profits of 2%.

“That would be the target by which you’d measure your combined entity. You’d go back to those numbers and see what have you’ve achieved compared with what you set out to achieve.”

Make sure to Contact us now so we can book in a consultation meeting with one of our dedicated Regional Directors. This is to show how we can help you to know more about growth through acquisition.

“This too shall pass”

If history has taught us anything, it’s that the only constant in life is change.

Over the course of the last century alone there have been a litany of challenges and numerous disasters, all of which have one thing in common – they’ve all passed.

Some months from now – it’s impossible to predict the true timeline – the current situation we face with Covid-19 will too have passed. It will have left in its wake a trail of debris and destruction which we ought not minimise, but it will pass.

As the great German writer Goethe once said: “Fresh activity is the only means of overcoming adversity.” It’s a wonderful way to focus the mind on proactive, practical activity and look forward. To deal with things that you can influence and change rather than those you can’t.

As Finance Directors part of our role is to use our knowledge of the past and translate it into actions that bring about a better future.

With 750 of us in the UK and abroad, many of us spanning 3 or even decades of service to SMEs, we have weathered many storms. We’ve also come out the other side.

And we have learned from those experiences that there are certain actions we must take quickly if we want to overcome adversity and put ourselves in a stronger position for when the storm abates. In the midst of the storm it can be difficult to make sense of what is happening. This is precisely the time to slow down for a moment, as hard as it may seem, and make some proactive decisions.

To address the negative, we can take it as read that the speed at which many industries will contract over the coming weeks will increase. Primary industries such as aviation, travel and tourism, events and conferencing, restaurants and pubs, will suffer devastating blows as will the supply chains they support. The ripple effect will affect everyone, in some way or other. These events are already in train.

While all that happens, as SME owners, we have to do whatever we need to do in order to weather the storm and come out stronger the other side.

And you don’t have to face that challenge alone. There’s a lot the government and banks are doing to help small to medium sized businesses get through the challenges of the coming weeks and we’re also here to help you navigate the options and put you in the strongest possible position when some sense of normality is restored.

Below are some key considerations, risks, opportunities and resources. If you would like us to help you navigate the options, we are offering a courtesy 1:1 Scenario Planning Call to help you get clarity around what you should be doing now to put you in the strongest possible position.

Protect the downside

Cash

Cash is king. What cash buffer do you have in place, what funds can be drawn down from available credit facilities if required? From March 11th the government is pledging £30bn. This covers welfare and business support, sick-pay changes and local assistance. In relation to business, the support includes:

  • £2bn of sick-pay rebates for up to 2m small businesses with fewer than 250 employees
  • £1bn of lending via a government-backed loan scheme, with government backing 80% of losses on bank lending
  • The abolition of business rates for this year for retailers (a tax cut worth more than £1bn)
  • The provision for any company eligible for small business rates relief to be allowed a £3,000 cash grant, estimated to be a £2bn injection for 700,000 small businesses

In addition, here are just a few key resources you may be able to draw upon from the major banks:

  • Barclays has a range of options for business customers, including 12-month capital repayment holidays on existing loans over £25,000 and increasing overdraft facilitiesCOVID-19
  • RBS has said it is offering more flexibility over loans to businesses, suggesting repayments may be deferred by up to three months for those in financial difficulty
  • NatWest has pledged £5bn Working Capital Support for SMEs during the Coronavirus outbreak
  • The Lloyds Banking Group said it would be open to requests from small businesses for overdraft extensions and other support

Scenario Planning

  • If you are predicting a reduced demand what will be the impact on sales and cash?
  • What costs can be cut or deferred? Is there flexibility in the cost base that could partially offset a downturn in revenues?
  • Are there major capital expenditures that could be postponed?
  • Over what time period might you expect revenues to be reduced?
  • What impact might you expect in regard to late payments from your existing customers?

Supply side:

  • Are you likely to be impacted by a break in supply of inputs/services from other businesses struggling with the virus?
  • How much contingency are you holding if supplies of inputs stopped/became erratic?
  • Are there alternative sources of supply if a supplier fails?
  • What is the likely impact on workforce – do you have a business continuity plan, can workers productively work from home/remotely?
  • Could you look at taking measures now to reduce the risk to your workforce; e.g. more virtual meetings rather than asking staff to travel?
  • Are you operating in an area which could be impacted by “lock down” measures e.g. city centre, does the workforce travel largely by public transport (impact if closed/restricted), would the travel patterns of the workforce mean it would be necessary, for staff safety, to suspend travel to the head office/main site.

Demand side:

  • Potential impact on sales volumes – e.g. what is your level of exposure to consumer demand, are you B2B or B2C, are your corporate customers likely to be significantly impacted (airlines, cinemas, hotels, restaurants, attractions, events, etc.
  • Any delivery issues for goods/services?
  • What are the contractual implications of failure to service customers (do they have a force majeure protection in contracts?)
  • Does the client have contracts which enable clients to claim force majeure and cancel commitments without penalty – worst case what might this mean in terms of the liquidity scenario planning.

Communications:

COVID-19

  • Who should you be contacting now – suppliers to see what contingency plans they have, customers to reassure, other stakeholders?
  • If someone has an issue, do they have the means to communicate with you?
  • Can you post messages on your website remotely if required as a means of keeping customers, suppliers notified?

Staff:

  • What is your policy on sick pay if staff have to self-isolate (the Government have announced the availability of SSP from day 1 of self-isolation but does your policy mirror that?)
  • Are there contingent measures that can be put in place to bring in temporary staff if necessary?

Miscellaneous:

  • Any business-critical single points of failure?
  • Can you switch your office phones to an alternative line?
  • What insurance arrangements do you have in place?

Prepare for the upside

All of the suggestions mentioned above constitute the day to day role of an FD. These are things that companies ought to be doing as a matter of course, but of course, many do not.

The advantage of going through this process now is that it will enable you to build a better, stronger, more resilient business for the future. Whether Covid-19 or the next major recession, or some other unforeseen event, knowing that you have done all that you can to prepare your business will give you greater confidence in the future.

The future of work is all about remote working, flexibility, greater specialisation and outsourcing. The Coronavirus will increase the pace with which we transition to a new global model.

We encourage you to be cautious and use this time to spark ‘fresh activity’ and build a stronger, leaner business for the future.

We are here to help and are offering 1:1 Scenario Planning Consultations to help you make the right decisions to get you through the coming weeks and prepare you better for when the current madness subsides.

The Best Business Scaling Strategy

If you want your business to achieve high ambitious turnover growth of at least 20% year on year, you need a business scaling strategy that incorporates a strong vision and a solid business plan.

Helping your small business to grow, to achieve a sustained annual 20% turnover growth and scale up, will involve careful planning.

It will also most likely involve taking calculated risks.

You need to think about what you want to achieve. You won’t find that easy unless you know your target market and your customers thoroughly, have products and services they’re keen to buy and be aware of the expenses you’re likely to face.

That’s the case for all business models, including those for manufacturers, retailers (whether they’re brick and mortar, brick and click or eCommerce), distributors, and franchises.

Achieve The Revenue Growth

You also need to have a clear understanding of what’s achievable both in the short and long-term.

At some point, you’re likely to need to invest in the company to achieve the revenue growth and scale your business the way you want.

That might be to cover the cost of hiring of more team members, the training of your existing employees and their retention, or the development of new product lines or services to boost sales.

Like some companies, you might need additional funding to be able to hire in external experts such as the FD Centre’s part-time FDs to fill the personnel gaps within the company as it scales up.

You will also have to decide how you will fund the additional resources you need to sustain your growth.

Companies that enjoy strong growth are prepared to employ the right people and to raise the money they need.

Sometimes they have even personally guaranteed the loans they’ve taken out on the company’s behalf.

They’re taking well planned, well considered risks.

The more risk-averse often shy away from offering personal guarantees on loans or embarking on mergers and acquisitions that would help to fuel their rapid growth.

Invariably however you do need to borrow money to achieve growth.

Managing growth successfully

The Best Business Scaling StrategyTo manage your company’s growth, it’s critical that you refer often to your business plan and keep an eye on the business’ key metrics, benchmarks and timelines.

You need to make sure that people have actionable activities; things that they can do and which can be measured.

As well as having repeatable processes and measuring your progress on a day-to-day basis, it’s crucial to be able and willing to adapt and be flexible if things change.

KPIs

Besides monitoring KPIs for turnover, gross profit percentage and salaries, it’s also important to establish KPIs for your profit per product and customer profitability.

You need to know whether you’re doing more business with each of your customers than you were doing the previous year, for example. That’s more important than focusing on going out and winning new customers.

Equally important is being aware of your balance sheet.

Other important KPIs are those that relate to your customer conversion rates, your sales profitability, and your working capital

Pros and cons of inorganic growth

One of the fastest ways to scale your business is to merge with or acquire another business in your market. Or, in the case of retail or hotel/restaurant companies, open new branches in different locations. It could also involve forming a joint venture partnership.

You need to ensure there are alignment and support for the from all the company’s stakeholders. Including customers, senior management, non-executive directors, potential joint venture or merger partners. And your banks and other finance institutions, your accountants, and your immediate team.

The benefits of choosing the right target company for your merger or acquisition can mean your market share and assets increase.

Your new staff may have more expertise and skills than your existing employees.

The merger or acquisition may make it easier to obtain capital if or when you need it.

But this kind of inorganic growth can be problematic.

The purchase price for the acquisition can be prohibitive while restructuring charges can increase expenses.

It also takes time to benefit from the knowledge or technology your company has acquired through the merger or acquisition.

You may find you need to recruit more managers to cope with the increased workforce.

The business may move in a direction you never anticipated. Or the new company may grow too quickly which puts it at greater risk.

Often, the combination of organic and inorganic growth gives you the best outcome. Your company can diversify its revenue base without having to rely purely on current operations to grow your market share.

Three tips to scale your business

  1. Be open minded about taking on investment. Scaling your business will be hard work and you need to find a way to do it without running out of cash. 
  2. Conduct market research to ensure people want to buy what you’re offering. It’s got to interest and excite them so much they’re willing to hand over cash for it.
  3. Reward your employees and make sure they understand and are engaged with your vision for the business. You’ve got to bring them on the journey. 

Contact us now so we can book in a consultation meeting with one of our dedicated Regional Directors, to show how we can help you to have the best business scaling strategy.

How to Drive Organic Growth in your Business

If you want to boost your business growth rate but consider mergers and acquisitions too costly and risky, then consider using a safer, albeit slower organic growth strategy.

Provided it’s profitable, growth can help your company to attract top-performing talent and investors. It can also generate financial resources that will fund expansion.

A business that grows organically uses its internal resources, without having to borrow or get involved in takeovers, mergers or acquisitions, to expand operations.

By comparison, those that rely on inorganic growth use external funding or growth opportunities such as mergers and acquisitions, to expand.

Although internal growth is slower, it can result in increased output, greater efficiency and production speed, higher revenue growth and better cash flow, according to the FD Centre’s multi-channel retail specialist and part-time FD, Sanjay Patel.

For those reasons, organic growth is growth that’s critical for the success of any company, not just those in the retail sector, he says.

It’s also why organic growth is important to existing and potential investors because they want to see the company is capable of increasing output and earning more than it did in the previous year.

Growing organically is what many high growth companies do, according to a global McKinsey report. The study found that organic growth is key to companies’ futures.

Top performers invest in existing high-growth activities by using funds from a variety of sources; create new products, services or successful business models; or perform better by continually optimizing their core commercial capabilities such as marketing, sales and pricing, the report said.organic growth

Interestingly, the top growth companies in the study used a combination of all three strategies, it revealed.

The top performers also tend to be better at developing the right capabilities to support their chosen growth strategies, such as using advanced analytics and digital customer experience, it explained.

Although the study focused primarily on publicly listed companies in the US and Europe, its conclusions are just as crucial to both small and large privately owned companies.

Of course, scale-up companies might not have the resources that top growth firms do that enable them to introduce more than one strategy at a time.

But if you want your company to enjoy the benefits of organic growth, then you need to use at least one of the three main organic growth strategies.

It’s also worth considering using a combination of organic and inorganic growth.

Three organic growth strategies

  1. Continuously optimize your commercial activities (those that involve how your products or services are priced, marketed and sold)
  2. Reallocate funds from unproductive costs or low-growth sectors of the business into activities such as high-earning products or services that already perform well and which will boost earnings and growth
  3.     Create and develop new products or services and develop new business models.

Measure success

It’s crucial you use data analytics to determine which growth initiative is having the most impact. Such analytics should make it easy to see which strategy is the most cost effective.

Embedding analytics into the company’s most critical commercial processes will make it easier to get useful insights. The faster you can get access to such insights, the easier it will be for leaders in your organisation to make important strategic decisions.

Why knowing your target market is critical

Thorough knowledge of your target market is essential for long-term organic growth. Without it, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to increase your market share.

If you know how your target customers or clients think, behave, and make decisions, you’ll know in which products and services you need to invest most of your funds.

Your research should make it easier to know what new product lines or services will appeal to your target market.

It will also allow you to tailor your marketing efforts and the pricing of your products or services towards your ideal customers. They’re the ones who buy the most products most frequently.

Social media marketing

For example, the research could reveal that most of your customers come to your online retail shop via recommendations they find on social media. These might include social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, blogs, vlogs, forums and consumer review sites.

This insight could mean you decide to focus most of your marketing efforts on getting more organic sales by reaching out to more social media influencers and producing SEO (search engine optimized) content for other people’s blogs, vlogs as well as your own blog and YouTube channel.

The deeper your understanding of your target market and ideal customers, the easier it should be to identify potential markets, invest in product line extension and create future revenue streams.

While becoming more effective at generating sales and annual revenue should result in better top-line figures, it’s also important for your company to become more efficient in spending and managing your operating costs.organic growth

The right mindset

To be one of the top growth companies, your business needs a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset. The fixed mindset organisational culture is based on the idea that personal traits are fixed, and natural ability is unchangeable.

Organisations with a fixed mindset tend to reward ‘genius’ type employees, the ‘star’ performers, and overlook so-called ‘under performers.’ Such organisations by their very nature hinder rather than encourage growth.

A growth mindset is based on the belief that everyone can increase their ability, talent, and intelligence, given the right opportunities to learn and be curious.

Organisations that share a growth mindset are more adaptive and flexible and, therefore more agile – the very qualities that a company needs to be able to take advantage of new growth opportunities.

Top Business Expansion Strategies for Entrepreneurs

If you want to grow your business, you’ll need to use key business expansion strategies, preferably one that involves the least amount of risk and effort.

Depending on the demand for your products and services, your competition, the size of your market and market conditions, you could use one of the following growth strategies to expand your existing business:

  • Increase your market penetration by selling more of your products or services to your existing customers.
  • Expand your market by moving into new areas, territories or countries.
  • Increase the range of products or services you offer to new and existing customers.
  • Diversify your existing products or services to attract different customers. 
  • Use new channels to sell your products or services such as through an online shop, direct mail catalogues, joint venture partners or affiliate partners.business expansion strategies
  • Acquire or merge with another company (to increase market penetration, market expansion, product diversification, and market share). You could buy or merge with a competitor, a supplier or a distributor to achieve your growth objectives.

Most of these can be achieved through organic business growth. The exception is the acquisition of or merger with another company. Merging or acquiring other companies can be riskier than relying on organic growth but if successful can help your company to achieve rapid growth.  

Obstacles to growth

Sadly, only a third of small businesses survive more than 10 years, according to the US Small Business Administration (SBA). They fail for a number of reasons, including:

 

  •  A lack of planning

 

Too many small business owners create a business plan to get start-up funding then never refer to it again. By comparison, the owners of growing, thriving companies develop strategies to achieve the objectives they’ve detailed in their business plan, according to Paul Vennard, Regional Director of the FD Centre. 

They then use their business plan as a benchmark by which they can measure progress towards their goals on a monthly, weekly and even, a day to day basis. 

For instance, they can see how close they are to achieve a percentage increase in profit margins. 

They can also use the business plan to develop systems and processes that will help make the company more efficient and more likely to survive and achieve its long term objectives.

 

  • Lack of skilled people

 

To expand your business you need people with the right skills and knowledge to deliver your products and services, says Vennard.

But a 2018 global talent shortage survey by the Manpower Group showed that 45% of companies struggle to find people with the right skills to fill open positions. Those unfulfilled roles pose a threat to a company’s productivity, efficiency, and future growth.

 

  • Lack of expert advice

 

Businesses can fail to achieve their growth projections simply because their owners and management team didn’t have access to people with expertise. Quite often, business owners are not even aware they can get help from people who have experience in growing companies. For instance, the FD Centre offers part-time Finance Directors who have all had big business experience. They can guide SME owners and help them overcome obstacles to growth.

 

  • Inadequate risk management

 

Poor risk management, that is a failure to identify, assess and control the internal and external threats to the company’s capital and earnings, can result in workplace accidents, failed projects, computer security breaches, loss of contracts, higher costs, legal action and, in the very worst cases, closure.

 

  • Poor financial management

 

Quite often the CEOs of small companies lack sophisticated financial knowledge. Poor financial management can lead to inadequate controls, high overheads, and overly optimistic financial forecasts. Some business owners can be unaware of the impact that rapid growth can have on cash flow and come unstuck. 

 

  • Little market research and poor marketing efforts

 

Inadequate market research can have disastrous consequences for any company. Your company could expend time and energy trying to sell to an audience that is not interested or can’t afford to buy your products or services, for instance.

Similarly, your company could miss opportunities such as joint ventures or expansion possibilities. It could also overlook threats such as new market entrants or changing consumer tastes.  

You need to have realistic expectations of your marketing’s reach and likely sales conversion ratio. 

Even when your market research is adequate, your company still needs strong marketing to ensure your target audience is aware of your products and services. You need to have the capacity to send the right message to the right people at the right time.

Lack of funding

Your company’s growth might plateau due to a lack of growth funding. This is particularly the case if your company is past the start-up phase, and if you don’t have further assets to borrow against. 

business expansion strategies

How to Grow A Company Successfully?

If you want to grow your business successfully, then you need to get the basics right. That’s things like your mindset, your long-term objectives, strategies, and the team you’ll employ to help you achieve your goals. In this article, we’ll delve into the tips on how to grow a company successfully.

To build your business, you also need to develop a system to attract and retain high-quality customers.

For that to happen, you must understand your customers’ needs and pain points. What burning needs do they have? What keeps them from falling asleep at night? 

Your customers must believe that your products or services will meet their needs or overcome their challenges.

Have the right mindset

One of the things that determine a business’ success is the business owner’s thinking. If the business owner has a clear vision of how the company should develop, it is highly likely that the company will also go in the same direction.

Set your objectives and develop growth strategies

how to grow your company successfullyYour goals for your business will provide an overall framework for everyone to follow. The strategies you’ll use to achieve those objectives should serve as a roadmap. It will help you to build a structure and bring a focus to decision making.

Once you’ve translated your goals into strategies, you can develop systems and processes that will help with the smooth running of the business.

Many businesses fail in the execution of their strategy. Don’t be afraid. It’s better to execute a mediocre plan correctly than it is to execute a perfect plan poorly.

Hire top-performing talent

A successful business depends on top-performing talent. That is hard-working, determined people whose goals are aligned with the organisation’s goals.

The more your organisation is seen to trust employees with responsibility and to invest in their career development, the more likely it is to attract and retain top performers.

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group, says, “There is little point recruiting great people if you don’t then give them the autonomy to take their role and run with it.

 “It also frees you up as the founder to focus less on the day-to-day activities and more on the over-arching objectives laid out in your 10-year roadmap.”

But rather than rush to hire people as you scale up, consider outsourcing tasks and using freelancers or temps. This could save you from hiring the wrong people and facing costly turnover.

Attracting and retaining customers

Many business owners make the mistake of focusing their entire sales and marketing efforts and budget on attracting new customers. They often overlook the needs of their existing customers.

They forget that it’s cheaper and takes less effort to get more orders (and bigger orders) from existing customers than it does to convert leads into new customers.

Ignoring your existing customers is a huge mistake. People don’t like to feel as if businesses take them for granted once they’ve placed an order. If they feel neglected, they’re likely to move to another company.

They are also highly likely to take to social media to vent their frustrations if your business doesn’t provide great customer service. This could mean bad word-of-mouth advertising on a massive scale. 

People expect excellent customer service in every interaction they have with your company whether that’s face-to-face, by letter, email, phone call, text, or via the website.

It doesn’t matter if you run a small business or a large corporation. Your company must deliver an exceptional customer service experience.

Don’t sacrifice sustainability for growth

Rapid growth might be desirable, but your company must be able to cope with its effects. For instance, can your company meet a sudden influx of orders? What impact would that have on your cash flow? There are dangers in scaling up your business too fast. They include:

  •         Hiring the wrong people
  •         Losing track of your finances
  •         Management mistakes
  •         Not maintaining customer service
  •         Ineffective business operations
  •         Technology problems
  •         Cash flow mistakes

 Get in contact with us today so we can book in a consultation meeting with one of our dedicated Regional Directors, to show how we can help the growth of your company.

 

Merger and Acquisition Strategies for Rapid Growth

If you want your company to enjoy fast, explosive growth, then consider merging with or buying a target company.

If you use the right merger and acquisition strategies your company could gain many competitive advantages and transform from a scale-up to a large firm.

It could also benefit from new technologies or skill sets, increased output, and more fixed assets. It could achieve an increased market share like Disney achieved with its $71.3 billion merger with 20th Century Fox in early 2019. The merger meant Disney boosted its domination of cinema with the newly merged company commanding 35% of the industry.

Your company could enter or expand into other markets or territories by merging with or acquiring a company that already has a strong presence there.

Acquiring firms can get substantial cost or revenue synergies from the merger or acquisition. For example, the company could benefit from the increased buying and negotiating power it has, thanks to the merger or acquisition.

It could achieve vertical integration, with potential cost and efficiency savings. Some of the business units within the merged firm could be consolidated.

merger and acquisition strategies
A successful merger or acquisition could mean that your company could raise prices, sell more products or services, and even change market dynamics.

With an expanded business, you could benefit from internal economies of scale. Your business could get access to raw materials or gain control of your supply chain.

Your business could achieve a virtual monopoly in your market through horizontal integration. That is, acquiring or merging with a company that is on the same level in the production supply chain as your own.

A successful M&A in another country could provide substantial tax benefits too. Many governments offer substantial tax benefits to companies that merge with or acquire local companies.

All of this can be achieved in the short term rather than the years it might take if you rely solely on organic growth.

However, before you start looking for target companies, it’s essential to undertake strategic planning. You and your Board of Directors need to consider your company’s goals, resource allocation, business portfolio, and plans for growth.

You can then better decide if merging with or buying another business fits with your company’s strategy and goals.
It’s far better to do this early on rather than after you’ve acquired companies.

Raising finance to fund the merger or acquisition

If you decide that a merger or acquisition will fit with your goals, then you’ll need to consider how to finance your merger and acquisition (M&A) deals.

Borrowing from third party lenders makes an acquisition or merger possible for growing SMEs. There are of course other ways to finance a merger or an acquisition. They include exchanging stocks, taking on debt, issuing an IPO, using cash, and issuing bonds. Some of these might not be feasible for SMEs.

Banks are still the main source of primary loans, but there are several alternatives to consider. They include direct lending funds and private placement markets.

You can use debt capital, equity capital, mezzanine capital, or convertible debt to complete your merger or acquisition.

The benefit of using debt capital in which you borrow against any debt-free assets is that you won’t have to give up equity in your company.

With equity capital, you sell a portion of the equity you own in your company. Private equity groups will offer to fund you in return for a stake in your company.

You could consider applying for a private placement loan. With that, you sell shares in your company to a select group of investors. The advantage of a private placement loan is that it can be a cheaper and quicker process than a public share offering. It is less regulated too.

The benefit of getting an asset-backed loan from a direct lending fund is that the fund manager may offer a more flexible deal structure than a bank. You will also keep control of your business.

Mezzanine capital is a hybrid of debt and equity capital. Lenders will look at your cash flow and your company’s future growth rather than its assets.

If your company is classified as high risk and you’re unable to get credit, you could raise funds through convertible debt. A creditor will loan you the money in return for a mix of equity in your company and debt-free assets.

merger and acquisition strategies
Use experts

Many financial and legal factors need to be considered before merging or acquiring a business. Mergers and acquisitions require analysis of the following:

  • Market opportunity
  • Company resources
  • Company’s liquidity (to ensure it can make and sustain the investment
  • Statutory and regulatory restrictions (especially linked to competition)
  • The speed of the process
  • Impact on customers (especially if the M&A results in market domination and a price hike)

In the medium and long term, the success of the operation depends on three things:

  • The size and global scope of the resulting business
  • The capacity of the management team
  • The integration of strategic and operational functions.

It’s crucial that you understand the market your target company is in, identify entry barriers, and evaluate its potential for growth.

Your due diligence should include the company’s intellectual property, its contracts, balance sheet, management, staff, benefits packages, property, leases, and stock.

That’s why a successful merger or acquisition relies on the help of external M&A advisors who have expertise in this area. They can carry out due diligence, provide advice, and even negotiate on your behalf. They can also save you from making a costly mistake.

Many mergers and acquisitions fail due to factors like poor research of the target company and due diligence being carried out by buyers who have no experience in M&A transactions.

They can also suffer from too much focus on post-merger cost-cutting rather than growth, as was the case with the merged Kraft Heinz.

A mismatch of cultures or even IT systems and other technology can also result in M&A failure. This was the case when the German car manufacturer Daimler Benz bought the American Chrysler car company for $36 billion in 1998.

While the German company catered to an affluent market, Chrysler offered its cars at competitive prices.

The union didn’t work and in 2007, Daimler Benz sold Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management for $650 million.

That’s why it is so vital to use advisors who are well-versed in M&As. They’re likely to be doing M&A deals on a day to day basis.

So, if you want your company to grow dramatically, acquire new customers, and enjoy a sustainable competitive advantage, start looking for target firms that are ripe for acquisition or a merger. But talk to the M&A experts at the FD Centre first. Call 0800 169 1499 now.

finance director south coast

Hiring An FD in the South Just Got Easier

Ambitious business owners in the south will now find it easier to increase profitability, improve cash flow and maximise the valuation of their SMEs with a part-time finance director.

That’s because the UK’s premium provider of part-time Finance Directors, The FD Centre has just created a regional centre to serve more businesses along the South Coast.

The Solent regional office will cover an 85-mile area that stretches from Bournemouth in the south-west, Winchester in the north, to Bognor in the south-east and incorporates the four distinct cities of Southampton, Bournemouth, Chichester, and Portsmouth.

The FD Centre’s 250 part-time FDs work with more than 600 clients across 20 regions in the country. Typically, FD Centre clients are SMEs with turnovers of between £3 million to £25 million. They’re companies who need the professional services of a dedicated part-time strategic FD with big business experience, who can guide them through the next stage of growth.

Matt Fernandez, who was born in Havant and has lived and worked throughout the region for most of his life, is the newly appointed South Coast Regional Director.

He says the FD Centre’s part-time FDs have been working with clients in the region for some years, but an increase in demand for help from local business owners led the company to decide to establish more of a presence here.

The government has identified the Solent and South Coast as an area of potentially strong economic growth and increased job opportunities, so it makes sense for the FD Centre to have a base here, he says.

His ambition for the next three years is for the FD Centre regional office to become the go-to resource for growing SMEs along the south coast.

He also wants to expand the FD Centre’s network of strategic business partnerships, including regional banks, accounting firms, corporate financiers, solicitors, and challenger banks.

“Our Finance Directors want to be able to offer best-in-class solutions to our clients along the South Coast. So, part of our strategy is to identify and build relationships with the best professional service companies in the region.”

Fernandez also plans to increase his team of hand-picked part-time FDs. Although the team is small, the breadth of experience of the FDs is vast. They’ve held senior leadership roles across most sectors including working for tier 1 brands such as Oracle, Homebase, B&Q, Ben Sherman, and Farrow & Ball.

In the future, he’ll be looking to find part-time FDs to work with SMEs involved in the region’s major industries including maritime and marine, advanced manufacturing, aerospace, defence, life sciences and health care, and IT.

“Our FDs are exceptional generalist CFOs or FDs with very strong relationship-building and interpersonal skills. Some have worked as interim MDs too, so they really understand the decision-making process their clients’ experience.”

Successful candidates go through a five-stage interview process and then a five-day residential onboarding process.

“We really want to be sure we choose the right people to join our network of part-time FDs,” says Fernandez.

The FD Centre FD’s agree a bespoke plan to maximise their value to the client, typically engaging 2-4 days each month depending upon the needs of the company.

To find out more, contact Matt Fernandez at [email protected].

“Working with many different businesses, allows me to keep the thrill of making a difference to business successes but also be around for the family moments that I wouldn’t want to miss.”

Amanda Brown, FD at The FD Centre in Kent (part of the CFO Centre Group)

Back in 2017, with over 25 years of FD board experience, Amanda started thinking about the benefits of a more diverse way of working. She was hoping for more flexibility – which would allow her to be around for her children. What is it they call it these days – being present?

It wasn’t that she was unhappy in her current role or that there was any big decision to be made. It was simply that she wanted to feel like she was making a difference whilst working around family life.

She noticed an online advert for the FD Centre, decided to get in touch and the rest is history, as they say.

And now, with three children ranging from 8-28, there’s never a dull moment for Amanda but there’s definitely more time to catch up as a family than there were before:

“Working with many different businesses, allows me to keep the thrill of making a difference to business successes but also be around for the family moments that I wouldn’t want to miss. When I was working as a full-time FD, making a difference was always the aim but now with the diverse portfolio of clients I can share my experience and essentially impact more companies and people’s lives positively.”

Amanda’s the first to admit that life can still be hectic – in fact, a client has recently asked her to run a key project for them for a 5-month period.  The buzz of the job and the opportunity to support a growing business makes it all worthwhile. And no-one wants too much time on their hands, right?

If, like Amanda, you’d value the opportunity to work with a diverse set of clients and the flexibility to manage your own priorities, please do get in touch – https://www.thefdcentre.co.uk/join-the-team/

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