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Client Story: Fiera Private Debt

Client Profile

Fiera Private Debt, a subsidiary of Fiera Capital Corporation, is a leading pan-Canadian private debt firm. It specializes in providing financing to developers, property owners, and mid-market businesses, as well as securing corporate and infrastructure debt financing.

Headquartered in Laval, Quebec, with offices in Montreal and Toronto, Fiera is renowned for its highly disciplined, credit-driven approach to investments that creates significant returns for their investors through collaborative, proactive financial strategies.

The Client’s Need
When Dino Fracassi, Managing Director, Business Finance at Fiera, started working with his new client, a leading supplier of custom products to brick-and-mortar retail locations, he knew that they needed to go in a new financial direction.

His client had already extended their credit beyond their means, and had been put into the “special loans” category at their bank. Needing additional working capital to stay afloat, they approached Fiera for assistance.

Dino reviewed their organizational structure and determined that for the company to transition back to traditional lending from their bank, they needed a significant adjustment to their current financial and operational stewardship. To accomplish this, Dino turned to The CFO Centre.

“Paul Nagpal, COO at The CFO Centre, was already part of my professional network, and our two organizations had successfully partnered on previous occasions. I offered him the chance to help with my new client, and gave him an idea of the perfect CFO for this file: someone with retail and B2B manufacturing experience who had a proven track record of successfully navigating companies through rough financial patches. Right away, he told me about Barbara Palmegiani, one of his company’s principals. After learning about her credentials and speaking with her directly, we knew we had found the right person to help get my client where I needed them to be.” – Dino Fracassi, Managing Director, Business Financing, Fiera Private Debt

The CFO Centre Solution

Barbara went into Dino’s client as the full-time, interim CEO with a mandate to restructure the company by assessing and resolving the cash burn, and work collaboratively with the executive team to make the necessary changes to return the company back to profitability. Her previous executive financial and operational roles gave her the experience to identify immediate insights into what needed to be done in order to improve their strategic direction and implement the appropriate operational and financial processes and controls for a company of their size, including:

  • Prioritize cash management best practices
  • Identify and fix challenges to Cost of Sales
  • Take control over expense management optimization
  • Create financial, forecasting, and budgeting tools and processes
  • Coordinate cross business collaboration to efficiently align with corporate goals, objectives, and strategic direction
  • Replace their dated technology with current, cost effective financial and operational systems to enable the executive team to formulate insights that enhance strategic decision-making
  • Identifying, monitoring, and reviewing key performance indicators (KPIs) and adjusting where necessary to help maximize growth
  • Strategically reallocate human capital to help increase cash flow
  • Improve procurement and inventory management processes

Two other critical issues needed to be addressed in order to return the company to profitability:

  • The company owned a subsidiary in China created to directly serve the growing East Asian market. The location was proving unsustainable, lacking growth potential, and costing too much money to continue operating profitably.
  • Their domestic operation was currently working out of a 150,000 sq. ft. space. It was determined that they could operate more efficiently and at a significantly lower cost with less than half this space.

“Barbara’s commitment to helping my client succeed was impressive. She took a deep dive into every aspect of their business, and quickly identified the roadblocks that were causing cash flow and growth issues. Barbara continues to work transparently with Fiera and the executive team, having earned and built our trust.” – Dino Fracassi, Managing Director, Business Financing, Fiera Private Debt

The Results

Barbara put her plan into action, which continues to yield positive results for Dino’s client.  They are now able to focus from top to bottom on fixing the smaller problems, having developed a strategy to tackle the bigger ones, including:

  • An improved workplace culture driven by collaboration
  • Streamlined internal processes with minimal waste and duplication
  • Increase in cash flow due to better financial processes and controls, as well as a reorganized workforce
  • Better financial accountability and strategic decision making through monthly financial meetings and reviews
  • Additional financial support from government-sponsored pandemic relief programs

Thanks to The CFO Centre’s vast professional network, Barbara was able to connect with overseas legal and real estate professionals who could help transition the client’s operations in China, which resulted in immediate savings.

Barbara’s extensive background negotiating with landlords enabled her to identify and execute a win-win solution for both Dino’s client and their landlord, which will significantly improve their bottom line going forward.

In less than one year, Barbara’s involvement with Dino’s client has already set them on the path to better long-term financial health and sustainable organic growth.

“Working with Barb has been fantastic. We asked The CFO Centre for what we needed in a theoretical sense, and they connected us with a perfect match. We wouldn’t have been able to do that on our own. I’m excited for the future of my client’s business as they once again become able to maintain profitability, and ultimately be able to return to working with the bank. Thanks to Barb and The CFO Centre, it’ll happen sooner rather than later.” – Dino Fracassi, Managing Director, Business Financing, Fiera Private Debt

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