“I value the security that being a part-time FD with half a dozen clients brings”

“I value the security that being a part-time FD with half a dozen clients brings”

Michael Citroen, portfolio FD at the FD Centre in the Thames Valley
(part of The CFO Centre Group)

Michael Citroen is 59 years old and a 14-year veteran of the part-time portfolio job world. The former Group Finance Director of a large privately-owned company relishes the challenge and excitement of working with SMEs in his role as a part-time FD.

“The FD Centre is very focused on helping its part-time FDs to win new clients”, Michael says. “I could never have done as well as I have if I’d had to do it on my own as I had no idea about marketing when I first began.”

Like many people starting out on the part-time path, Michael had initially been worried about giving up a salary with all the perks. “To begin with, I felt a little insecure giving up a regular job, but the role was becoming increasingly political and I wanted to take back control.”

He quickly discovered that the financial return you get from this way of working is dependent on the amount of energy you’re willing to expend and the number of clients you take on.

He realised early on that the new lifestyle would enable him to spend more time with family whilst maintaining a good level of income.

Surely, if Michael’s still buzzing about this way of working after 14 years, it’s worth finding out a bit more about it. Isn’t it?

If you’d like an exploratory chat about portfolio working, we’d love to hear from you – https://www.thefdcentre.co.uk/join-the-team/

“Being a part-time FD for the past eight years has meant I’ve been able to play a large role in my son’s life.”

“Being a part-time FD for the past eight years has meant I’ve been able to play a large role in my son’s life.”

Neil Methold, portfolio FD at the FD Centre in the Thames Valley
(part of The CFO Centre Group)

Neil, 54 has found the move into the part-time portfolio world beneficial in so many ways. Not only has he been able to enjoy more family and leisure time, but he’s also had the pleasure of coaching and mentoring people working within his clients’ companies. Neil now also mentors new Principals joining the FD Centre to help them at the start of their journey to a portfolio career.

“My greatest satisfaction comes from coaching and mentoring people within these companies so they become self-sufficient and can do more and more of the work themselves.

“I see it as my responsibility to ensure the work is done – not necessarily to do it all myself. I think that has a significant impact on client retention.”

Neil has found the move from the corporate world extremely refreshing.

“You can’t go in and be all corporate. SMEs don’t want that. They want someone they can trust and rely on and build a good relationship with. A friendly face. Not just a very clever big shot. You need to be down to earth and people-focused.”

The relationships you have with clients are what help to make this such a rewarding way of life. Neil talks openly about the genuine respect that he has with his clients, which gives him a great deal of job satisfaction.

Imagine taking your whole self to work. Imagine having the freedom to control your own diary. Are you ready for a conversation? Call us – https://www.thefdcentre.co.uk/join-the-team/

“I have far more flexibility with my time and a better work-life balance.”

“I have far more flexibility with my time and a better work-life balance.”

Kate Wright, portfolio FD at the FD Centre
(part of The CFO Centre Group)

Kate Wright, previously worked as Head of Finance and Operations for a NASDAQ-listed company, but moved to a more flexible role as a portfolio FD, later-on joining the FD Centre, the largest provider of part-time FDs in the UK.

She was wanted to leave the corporate world, to work with Entrepreneurs and was willing to take a pay cut to do so.  However, she’s been pleasantly surprised with the remuneration.

“Although part-time FDs aren’t eligible for bonuses or equity, they are well-paid for the work they do.”

The benefits far outweigh the negatives as Kate carefully structures her time.

“You do have to be very organised and very focused. I quite often spend half a day with one company and half a day with another. It’s very important to make every client feel as if they are the most important.”

Being a part-time FD enables Kate to earn well whilst maintaining control over her diary.

“It’s a long way towards the holy grail of work life balance. I feel it’s the future.”

We think so too.

If you’d like to find out more, we’d love to hear from you – https://www.thefdcentre.co.uk/join-the-team/

“I get enormous job satisfaction from working so closely with the decision makers in companies rather than being a small part of a large business.”

“I get enormous job satisfaction from working so closely with the decision makers in companies rather than being a small part of a large business.”

Caroline Dodds, portfolio FD at the FD Centre
(part of The CFO Centre Group)

Caroline Dodds, used to work with FTSE-listed companies but threw in the towel to work with Scale-Up businesses for the FD Centre, the largest provider of part-time FDs in the UK.

Being in control of her time is one of the best things about being a part-time FD for Caroline.  It gives her the flexibility to strive for the illusive work-life balance we all crave.

Rather than work as a sole trader, there’s the added benefit of a network of experts to bounce ideas off. Being able to communicate with FDs from around the world is something Caroline finds very useful especially as she has clients in China and Hong Kong. “I love networking and working within a team. The FD Centre and the wider Liberti Group offer a massive network.”

“I wanted to have colleagues that I could bounce ideas off. You can’t be a master of everything by yourself. If there’s something I’m not sure about, I know there will be someone who will have come across that issue.”

So, Caroline is living proof that work-life is possible. Is it really possible? OK, without another few hours in the day, we all know it’s tricky but one step closer has got to be good, right?

Are you ready for an exploratory conversation? We’d love to hear from you – https://www.thefdcentre.co.uk/join-the-team/

“I get a great sense of satisfaction from helping business owners to achieve their objectives.”

“I get a great sense of satisfaction from helping business owners to achieve their objectives.”

Steve Wilden, portfolio FD at the FD Centre in the Thames Valley
(part of The CFO Centre Group)

Steve Wilden has been with the FD Centre for 8 years. After a successful and eventful FD career with many tales to tell, Steve had amassed a considerable range of experience across many industries.

While his time in the Corporate world was extremely fulfilling, the pressure started to take its toll. Steve made the decision to move to portfolio working in the hope it would provide the change of lifestyle needed.

With portfolio working, there’s the buzz of tackling a wide variety of business situations.

Working with many owner-managed businesses allows Steve to share his commercial acumen far and wide – implementing fundamental changes that make the world of difference. In reality, having a number of businesses to help can be more rewarding than the full-time, traditional way of working.

And life is less stressful.

Principals are masters of their own destiny and they control their own portfolios. They are supported to seek out clients in the sectors they want to work in, using their areas of expertise and deciding how much work they want to commit to each month.

If you’re ready to consider a career in portfolio working, we’d love to hear from you – http://www.thefdcentre.co.uk/join-the-team/

“With portfolio working, I’m not pigeon-holed into one particular area of expertise”

“With portfolio working, I’m not pigeon-holed into one particular area of expertise”

Tony Lewis, portfolio FD at the FD Centre in the South East
(part of The CFO Centre Group)

With 30+ years’ experience in the corporate world, both in the UK and globally,  Tony has been there, done that, got the t-shirt. But by working for one of the top management consultants and supporting many US-listed companies, it’s very easy to be known for one particular type of situation.

Then there’s always the next client waiting for your support and advice.

Of course, it’s good work and he’s proud of what he achieved. But when the appeal wears off and there’s no time to really enjoy the important things in life, something’s got to change.

Tony was ready for a new challenge. He wanted more time and space to have input into family life – to reduce the time he was travelling and help to settle his children.

For this reason, he approached the FD Centre to become a part-time FD.

And he has never looked back to the big job in the City and the international travel.

For Tony, the flexibility the role provides has meant the world to him. He can enjoy a challenging & rewarding professional life balanced with time for family, friends, sports & hobbies.

He also finds the role extremely fulfilling. Good practice and insightful advice aren’t just expected, they’re really appreciated.

“Instead of spending my time worrying about multinationals, I’m now helping a family-run business improve profit & cash generation. We’re talking livelihoods and real people. And it’s so much more rewarding.”

If you’d like to think about how portfolio working could work for you, we’d love to hear from you – https://www.thefdcentre.co.uk/join-the-team/

“This is probably the happiest I have ever been for a number of reasons.”

“This is probably the happiest I have ever been for a number of reasons.”

Zara Merricks, portfolio FD at the FD Centre
(part of The CFO Centre Group)

Zara works as a portfolio FD for between five and 10 clients at a time. She works for the FD Centre, the largest provider of part-time FDs in the UK and is delighted to see the rapid difference she makes to companies she works with. Since joining the FD Centre over two years ago, Zara is enjoying the opportunities that have come her way.

Although Zara’s keen to tell us that it’s the best career move she’s ever made, she’s also honest about the need to become extremely organised.

“I recently started doing virtual FD work as well as well as portfolio work. I might spend a day a month in a client’s office and the rest of the time working from home. The virtual FD work I plan six months in advance and the portfolio work I plan six weeks in advance. So, you do have to have time management skills.

Working with five clients at the same time, it can be a little challenging deciding who takes precedence. But that’s a minor downside.”

And apart from feeling like she’s making a difference… what are the other reasons for Zara’s happiness?

The flexibility of course. Being in control of her diary, not missing out on ‘the important things in life’ and making adjustments to support her own well being.

Surely, that’s worth getting organised for, isn’t it?

If you’d like to chat to us, we’d love to hear from you – https://www.thefdcentre.co.uk/join-the-team/

Why and How You Should Scale Up Your Business

Why and How You Should Scale Up Your Business

If you consider what sets companies like eBay, Alibaba, Netflix, Google, Starbucks, Apple, Cisco and Dell apart from other companies, their ability to continuously innovate and create high growth will probably come high on your list.

So should the fact they’ve all successfully transitioned from start-up to scale-up status without losing their ability to be dynamic and entrepreneurial.

Then there’s the fact they’ve helped create thousands of full-time and part-time jobs throughout the world. Twenty-three-year-old eBay, for example, employs 14,100 full- and part-time employees while Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. has 88,100 full-time employees.

In his book, Scale Up!, the FD Centre’s Chairman Colin Mills defines scale-ups as companies that have grown by 20% a year for a minimum of three years and which started the three year period with a minimum of 10 employees.

Scale-ups disrupt and revolutionise entire industries, according to a Deloitte & THNK report. “They embody ingenuity, innovation, and foresight,” its authors concluded after studying 400,000 enterprises worldwide.

There’s a common misconception that only startups can be innovative, dynamic and entrepreneurial. Yet as scale-ups like Google and Alibaba illustrate, that’s far from the case.

Perhaps startups attract more attention because there’s so many of them: it’s estimated that there are 300 million startups globally. By comparison, only a tiny fraction of startups ever survive long enough to make the transition to scale up, according to the authors of the Deloitte report.

“Our research shows that the chances of a new enterprise to ascend as a scale-up are around 0.5%, which means that only 1 out of 200 surviving new enterprises will become a scale-up. ‘Unicorns’ make up the even smaller subset of scale-ups; only 104 startups are valued over $1 billion.”

Those companies that do become scale-ups help to boost local, national and international economies. They provide direct, ongoing employment and that, in turn, creates more consumer spending which in turn stimulates the economy and expands the tax base.

Or as business guru and venture capitalist, Daniel Isenberg say in Scale-Up!, “One venture that grows to 100 people in five years is probably more beneficial to entrepreneurs, shareholders, employees and governments alike, than 50 which stagnate at two years.”

Contrary to what many policymakers believe, startups don’t help economies to flourish or cause per capita income to rise.

“The relationship between per capita income and entrepreneurial activity is generally negative, rather than positive as is often believed,” wrote Scott Shane, Professor at Case Western Reserve University, in Entrepreneur magazine. He referenced a Gallup Organisation survey which compared per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with the fraction of the population that reported being self-employed in 135 countries. It showed that the self-employed fraction had a negative linear relationship with the log of GDP.

“That is, self-employment rates are lower in rich countries than in poor ones.”

But growing a company past the start-up phase is not without its share of challenges, whether they are related to employees, sales and marketing, operations, administration, or finance. Most importantly, if growing companies don’t have the right infrastructure to support their expanded operations, those challenges can become increasingly severe.

“While on paper, they may have the revenue, the manufacturing base or customer reach of a substantial business, the culture, the controls, the processes, the personnel and the leadership remain those of a much smaller business than they were a short time before,” says Mills in Scale-Up!.

“Worse, they haven’t yet accumulated the resources to build and maintain that infrastructure.”

If the situation is not resolved, the business will outrun itself (cash reserves will dwindle as it tries to meet the expanded demands) or get stuck (as the owner and employees find themselves unable to cope with the problems).

But if you revise your business model, you can overcome these challenges or even avoid them altogether.

“You need to consider your whole business model, because if you have a terrible business model, then the last thing you want to do is to start scaling it,” says Mills.

The FD Centre’s part-time FDs or CFOs help clients revise their business model using a framework known as the ’12 Box’ approach.

It has three levels:

  1. Operational
  2. Strategic
  3. Business Support

Operational

This refers to finance operations and focuses on two key aspects: cash and profitability. There are four boxes: Cash Flow Management and Profit Improvement (which generate money), and Internal Systems and Reporting (which generate time for management).

Strategic

This involves your finance strategy: how are you going to finance the business to achieve future cash and profits? The four boxes in this section cover: Risk Assessment, Strategic Funding, Strategic Activities and Exit Planning, and an Implementation Timetable.

Business Support

This involves crucial tasks such as compliance, tax planning and legal issues, banking relationships and outsourcing. In the case of The FD Centre’s FDs (and the CFO Centre’s CFOs), they don’t carry out the tasks but instead, manage the work on a client’s behalf. They’ve built relationships with the right people in each country where they operate so that they can connect clients with the right supplier at the right cost when they need it, and then manage the work on their behalf.

Take the F Score: Find Your Future Challenge Areas

To help you identify which one of these 12 areas is a potential current or future pain point for your business, the FD Centre/CFO Centre has created a quick assessment form known as the ‘F Score’. (It will only take nine minutes to complete.)

The F Score features a series of questions built around the 12 Boxes, designed to identify your areas of strength and those which represent a gap. When you’ve completed the questions, you’ll receive an eight-page report which will reveal your current or future challenges. It will not only rate the performance of your company’s finance function but also uncover untapped opportunities for non-linear growth.

To discover how the FD Centre will help your company to scale up, please call us now on 0800 169 1499 or contact us here.

Free 1-1 Finance Session

Do you have a burning question about any of the following:

  • Cash flow management
  • Funding
  • Profit improvement
  • Exit planning
  • Reporting
  • Getting the most from your bank?

Book now for your complimentary 30-minute finance breakthrough session with one of our part-time FDs/CFOs. Get the answers you need to scale up your business.

Ask the FD

If you’ve got just one finance-related question and you’d like us to send it across to our team of top FDs, please let us know, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.