We’re here to help

We’re here to help

The CFO Centre is in the business of bringing long-term, part time CFO’s to your team.

But, in these turbulent times, we want to HELP YOUR COMPANY and YOUR EMPLOYEES to not just get by in this period of crisis, but to be ready to move ahead when our difficult times subside.

Whether you have engaged with us or not, there are MANY WAYS OUR VIRTUAL CFOs CAN HELP AT NO CHARGE.

  • Find new funding programs among the array of new and continuing announcements
  • Find ways to defer expenses for your company
  • Help present and past employees find financial solutions
  • Help everyone to SURVIVE AND THRIVE.


  • Access to Federal programs
    • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (75% subsidy if revenue dropped 30%)
    • Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) – via banks
    • Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) – via BDC and EDC
    • Income Tax and HST/GST deferral
  • Access to Provincial funding programs
  • Assistance in creating custom programs with
    • Banks
    • Creditors
    • EDC and BDC
    • Other Lenders


  • Access to Federal programs
    • Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
    • Goods and Services Tax Credit (GSTC)
    • Canada Child Benefit (CCB)
    • Income Tax filing and payment deferrals
    • Registered Retirement Income Funds
  • Access to Provincial funding programs
  • Deferment of Debt and Mortgage Payments
  • How to talk to your bank

Let one of our virtual CFOs help you find your way through all of these programs, and design custom ones at no charge

and, when the dust settles, you just might find there are other ways we can help you grow too!


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Growth Through Acquisition

Growth Through Acquisition

To accelerate the growth of your company and organic growth doesn’t appeal, consider merging with or acquiring another company.

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 an 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.

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).

Growing your business via a merger or an 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 amount of lost opportunities.

Successful merger or acquisition strategy

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, she says. 

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.”

tel: 1-800-918-1906
email: [email protected]

STRATEGIC FUNDING – Where to find the capital your business needs – Part II

STRATEGIC FUNDING – Where to find the capital your business needs – Part II

In part I of the strategic funding article, we discussed the following sources of funding:

  • Bank Operating Line of Credit
  • Loans
  • Invoice Discounting (Factoring)
  • Asset Financing

Theres are also another variety of funding available for businesses: the Alternative financing.

Alternative finance is a general term to describe a variety of financing options that sit next to traditional bank facilities and factoring and invoice discounting products.

The alternative finance market includes a wide variety of new financing models including peer to peer lending, crowdfunding and specialist finance providers offering products such as selective invoice finance and invoice trading platforms.

Specialist providers have greater flexibility than the traditional sources and can often offer a faster turnaround on the right deals. Crowdfunding, peer to peer lending and invoice trading platforms greatly depend on online platforms bringing many investors and borrowers together.

The section below looks at the main options for the different and emerging alternative financing options:

Selective Invoice Financing

Unlike traditional factoring companies, invoice financing or invoice discounting, selective invoice finance allows businesses to choose which invoices or debtors should be put forward for funding. The business owner can choose when and how much they wish to draw from the selected invoices. The provider agrees upon an ongoing facility for the business. On presentation of a valid invoice, money can be accessed from the facility as soon as the validity of the invoice has been confirmed. For each invoice, an agreed percentage of the value becomes available to draw – typically 70% to 85%.

Selective invoice finance is a great option if you’re looking for flexibility as the business is not tied to any contract and can dip in and out of the facility as needed. Business owners have direct control over costs and the opportunity to repay early if additional funds become available from elsewhere.

Additional security is often required to support the facility. This could include a charge over business assets and a personal guarantee from the directors or owners.

Invoice Trading Platforms

Invoice trading is a short-term finance option where the borrower signs up to an online platform and submits an invoice for sale.

The invoice trading platform will pre-vet the invoice, looking to ensure the debtor is credit worthy. If satisfied with the quality of the debt, full details of the invoice will be posted on the platform and a bidding process begins.

Potential lenders start a reverse auction so the keener they are, the lower the interest rate for the borrower. If there is insufficient appeal, the trade will fail. It is exclusively web based due to the administration efficiencies involved.

When the invoice becomes due the debtor pays directly to the platform but the business remains responsible for making sure the invoice is paid.

On repayment the platform deducts its own charges and repays the capital and interest to the individual lenders. A shortfall in the repayment will mean the business will be asked to make up the difference.

Some trading platforms have now started to take additional security in the form of a charge on the business and a personal guarantee from the directors and/or shareholders.

Peer To Peer Lending

Peer to peer (P2P) lending enables numerous small investors to loan money directly to a business and could be a good solution for longer term funding.

The length of the loan is agreed by all parties upfront and as per a normal commercial loan, the business will have to pay interest, typically quarterly. In order to attract lenders the proposition needs to demonstrate a strong likelihood of both the interest and capital being repaid on agreed terms.

Failure to meet the repayments may result in penalties such as a demand for immediate repayment or an increased rate of interest if the loan remains in default.

The platform provider acts as middleman between lender and borrower and will ultimately enforce whatever security has been taken on behalf of the individual lenders.

Provided a loan has been properly serviced and there is adequate security available, it is often possible to return to the P2P lender for a second or later round of borrowing but each new loan has to be separately posted to the platform and must justify why the new lending is required.

Security will need to be offered, normally in the form of a charge over company assets (a debenture) and a personal guarantee. Investor money is at risk if the loan is defaulted.


Crowdfunding involves a business plan being posted to a specialist website where sufficient small investors offer funding to generate the target amount required by the business.

Crowdfunding is a good option for businesses not wanting ongoing interest costs. However, on completion investors will own shares and have certain rights in the business. For example they may require input such as audited financial statements and will need to be kept informed of how revenue is progressing. No personal security is needed from the current owners.

There are two main types of crowdfunding and the expectations of investors vary according to which they are looking at:

  1. Special Interest Funding: Often used in the entertainment industry, for instance to pay a musician to produce a new album or to cover the production costs of a new show. In this case, the investor doesn’t necessarily expect a commercial return on the investment but will have some special rights, such as pre-release copies of a CD or discounted tickets to see a show.
  2. Trade Finance: Money is advanced to enable goods to be purchased (typically from abroad) before they are sold. The lenders security is the goods purchased so these must either be easily saleable or in response to a confirmed order. Generally available to established businesses with good credit. Minimum transaction values and margin on the contract will apply.


Supply Chain Finance

The funder takes control of the supply chain, generally making payments direct to the supplier. Security is taken over goods purchased. There is usually a high degree of involvement and control over the borrower’s business and other security is invariably required.

Private Equity Firms

Private equity firms provide medium to long-term capital in return for an equity stake in companies with high-growth potential.

The investors’ return is dependent on the growth and profitability of the business. As a result, most private equity investors will seek to work with you as a partner to grow the business.

It is most suitable for firms looking for longer term capital to fund their expansion activities.

advantages private equity firms

disadvantages private equity firms IPO (Public Offering for Shares)

This is where your business is publicly listed and shares can be bought and traded by the public. Typically this is only used for larger businesses.

In Canada, the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) is the senior equity market, while the TSX Venture Exchange is a public venture capital marketplace for emerging companies. The Montreal Exchange or Bourse de Montréal (MX) is a derivative exchange that trades futures contracts and options.

IPO advantages IPO disadvantages



Funding is often the catalyst for taking your business to the next level.

It’s your choice whether you want to take on an equity partner or raise debt to finance the growth of the business. When raising equity, if the right partner can be found, it can make a profound difference to your business. It may be that the investor provides not only funding but also adds significant value to your business in terms of experience, expertise, infrastructure, and channels to market. However, it does mean you will lose partial or complete control in running your business. Something that for many is not appropriate.

Raising debt can be complex and frustrating, and the increasing array of alternative funding doesn’t make that process any easier, but it does mean you keep control as your business grows. However, if you’re like most business owners, you simply want the funds and are less interested in the detail of how to get hold of them!

That’s fine if your company has a full-time chief financial officer (CFO) with substantial experience in raising funds: however, as an SME, you probably don’t have a full-time CFO, or if you have they probably don’t have a vast range of fund raising experience, whether it be raising debt or equity. So what can you do?

You can hire a very experienced part-time CFO to manage the entire process for you. He or she will manage everything from determining your immediate and long-term objectives to finding the right kind of funding partner for the business.

Discover the funding options now

To discover your funding options, book your free one-to-one call with one of our chief financial officers who are funding experts:

tel: 1-800-918-1906
email: [email protected]


Strategic Funding – Where To Find The Capital Your Business Needs

Strategic Funding – Where To Find The Capital Your Business Needs

Funding growing businesses is one of the major challenges any entrepreneur and business owner will face, and while there is an increasingly vast array of options available, figuring out how to access these funds can be a very time consuming, frustrating experience, even for the most seasoned business owner.

Whether you need working capital to support your growth, raise funds for a push into a new market, introduce a new product range or even have a requirement to raise funds for a new business venture, figuring out what you need to do and where to go can be difficult. With the advantage of “doing this for a living”, this report summarizes the process and points you in the right direction in terms of funding providers and where to go to get the independent specialist advice you are likely to need.


  • Which type of funding will suit your needs?
  • Sources of funding (including advantages and disadvantages of each one).
  • Where to get independent specialist advice on your funding options and presenting your case for the best chance of success.

Whether you need $1,000 or $10 million, there are only two kinds of finance: equity, whereby you are raising money in exchange for for ownership of the company, and debt which is borrowed money. The first step in raising capital is to decide between equity or debt. In the SME world, the choice usually depends on the preference of the business owner and stage of the company.

If you want to maintain total control, you are typically going to prefer a debt driven funding route: however if you are less worried about control, bringing in equity funds can often mean you grow faster. This can be a good route, particularly where you have a very clear exit in mind and this exit lines up with other equity providers.

In most SMEs the entrepreneur or business owner is the person who looks for funding the business needs. When raising debt finance, our experience is that banks are still the most frequent form of funding used, but increasingly owners are hearing about and starting to use new forms of finance outside of traditional banks. This so called alternative funding market is growing rapidly, and has more than doubled in size year on year from £267 million in 2012 to £666 million in 2013 to £1.74 billion in 2014, according to the “UK Alternative Finance Industry Report”.¹


Equity financing can come from individuals, so called angel investors, and traditional venture capital firms. Depending on your ambitions, there is also the option to combine both debt and equity in a funding mix to provide the capital base for long term growth and the working capital to support working capital requirements in the business.

While there is copious advice for those businesses seeking to raise funds for start-ups, this report focuses particularly on the challenges facing mid sized companies who are past start up and need funds to continue to grow (those with annual revenues between £2M and £50M, or employing staff between 10 and 250 employees).

Sources of funding for mid-sized business

Bank Operating Line of Credit

For many businesses the bank operating line of credit remains the traditional form of funding, with relationships formed over many years.

Although lines of credit can be quick to set up, the biggest drawback is that they can be called in by the bank on demand. So when things aren’t going well and you need the facility, that’s just the time when the bank might demand repayment, particularly if you haven’t built a strong relationship with the bank, so they understand what’s going on in your business.


A bank term loan will have a maturity date and require principal repayments over a fixed period of time (typically 2 – 5 years). As long as you payback the money per the terms of the loan, the advantage is that the bank can’t demand repayment, although typically the business and usually the owner will need to offer strong security for the loan, usually secured on the assets of the business and often the owners personal assets, by way of a personal guarantee.

As with operating lines of credit, the irony is that the more profitable and cash generative your business is, the less likely the bank’s requirements for security.

The principle is straightforward: if your business has performed well over the years and the bank has confidence that performance will be continued, then the easier it is to borrow money against security, or in some cases simply the cash flows of the business.

Invoice Discounting (Factoring)

Invoice discounting, also referred to as factoring, has grown in popularity in recent years. Banks and other specialist invoice discounting firms lend money which is secured by your accounts receivable, so if the company fails, the bank or specialist firm has more security than in the case of a conventional credit line.

With invoice discounting, you effectively sell your outstanding business invoices to a third party. You get the cash flow benefit by receiving a percentage of the money immediately (usually around 80%) and the rest when the money is collected.

Invoice financing can be really beneficial for growing businesses and can help you to bridge the gap between the delivery of goods or services and the payment from your customer.

advantages of invoice discounting disadvantages of invoice discounting

Asset Financing

An important consideration of financing, is the overall mix of funding a company uses. Asset financing can be used for funding fixed assets such as plant and machinery, equipment, computers and vehicles. All the main banks have asset financing arms and there are also many specialist companies in this space. The bank or finance company takes security of the asset as their protection. This form of financing has the benefit that it is pretty easy to arrange, assuming the assets you are buying are standard.


1 ‘Understanding Alternative Finance: The UK Alternative Industry Report 2014’, Baeck, Peter; Collins, Liam; Zhang, Bryan, Nesta & The University of Cambridge, November 2014