Ensure your business is compliant – Part II

Ensure your business is compliant – Part II

How a part-time CFO will ensure your business is fully compliant 

The CFO Centre will provide you with a highly experienced senior CFO with ‘big business experience’ for a fraction of the cost of a full-time CFO. This means you will have:

  • One of Canada’s leading CFOs, working with you on a part-time basis
  • A local support team of the highest calibre CFOs
  • A national and international collaborative team of the top CFOs sharing best practice (the power of hundreds)
  • Access to our national and international network of clients and partners

With all that support and expertise at your fingertips, you will achieve better results, faster. It means you’ll have more confidence and clarity when it comes to decision-making. After all, you’ll have access to expert help and advice whenever you need it.

In particular, your part-time CFO will help you to ensure your business is fully compliant.

Compliance is hugely beneficial to any organization but it is by no means a one-off exercise. It takes time, energy and money to ensure it works effectively.

Your part-time CFO can bridge the gap between money and risk and handle both legal and compliance issues for your company to ensure risk is managed and the bottom line is optimized.

That lifts an enormous burden from your shoulders, leaving you free to focus on the core activities of your business.

Our regional teams of part-time CFOs and our national collaborative network have all the latest regulatory knowledge at their fingertips.

There are many aspects of compliance but by way of a summary, your assigned part-time CFO will work with you to:

  • Ensure that your financial statements and annual returns are completed and filed on time.
  • Ensure that employment and related payroll taxes are completed and filed on time.
  • Use our national collaborative network to access information related to specific compliance issues for your industry.
  • Ensure compliance with all GST/PST/HST and other statutory filings.
  • Read and interpret bank/invoice finance covenants and ensure compliance.
  • Introduce HR checklist and sign off compliance.
  • Check insurance coverage, relevance and make sure paperwork is complete.
  • Ensure that all returns are accurate and up to date with CRA


When you allow a part-time CFO to lift the considerable burden of compliance from your shoulders so that you are no longer being sidetracked into time-consuming compliance activities, you are free to focus on the core activities of your business.

You can be confident that your part-time CFO provides an expert level of support in managing compliance functions and risk.

He or she will help you to cut back on expensive infrastructure so that compliance is managed in a cost-efficient way.

Critically, your CFO will give you peace of mind, leaving you free to concentrate on growing your business.

Protect your company now!

Unless you have an up-to-date compliance programme, your company is at risk. Allow one of The CFO Centre’s part-time CFOs to help you to ensure your company is fully compliant. To book a free one-to-one call with one of our part-time CFOs.

Contact us today!
tel. : 514 906-8839
email : [email protected]

Ensure you’re tax and legally compliant – Part II

Ensure you’re tax and legally compliant – Part II

How a part-time CFO will resolve your tax challenges

The CFO Centre will provide you with a highly experienced senior CFO with ‘big business experience’ for a fraction of the cost of a full-time CFO.

This means you will have:

  • One of Canada’s leading CFOs, working with you on a part-time basis
  • A local support team of the highest calibre CFOs
  • A national and international collaborative team of the top CFOs sharing best practice (the power of hundreds)
  • Access to our national and international network of clients and partners.

With all that support and expertise at your fingertips, you will achieve better results, faster. It means you’ll have more confidence and clarity when it comes to decision-making. After all, you’ll have access to expert help and advice whenever you need it.

In particular, since every CFO Centre CFO is a qualified accountant and has experience of the kind of challenges which many business owners may feel are beyond solving, he or she will help you with your tax and legal position.

It is always a great relief to our clients to know that this high-risk area is being looked after for them.

It was a problem with GST that led one family-owned business to contact The CFO Centre.

One of The CFO Centre’s part-time CFOs recalls his first meeting with the business owners well.

“They were in a dark place when I went for my first meeting,” he says. “They had a tax problem and they were paying that off. “ “The company had been operating at a loss, running out of cash and they were constantly cutting costs.“

“I asked them what they thought they needed to do and I replayed it to them at the end of the day and all I did was say ‘You do that, you do this’ etc. “ “They knew what they needed to do, but they just didn’t have the confidence to do it. “

“It took us about nine months to sort it out. We put a strategy together and sold off two showrooms.” “Now, in our second year, we have three showrooms instead of five and yet our revenue is greater than what it was when we had five.”

“The family is in a place where they love going to work. They like what they’re doing and they want me to keep going in because I give them the confidence to make decisions about the business.”

A software development client was another business that benefitted from specialist tax advice from one of our part-time CFOs.

“Our part time CFO sorted out the R and D tax credits, which has also been a big help particularly because it came along at a time where life could have got quite tough if we’d had to pay out a huge tax bill,” recalls the owner. “We hadn’t even considered the R and D tax credits so this was a big win.

“It really helps to know that the finances are being professionally looked after. Our CFO is able to come in and steady my nerves if we are going through a difficult patch.

“I can relax knowing that I’ve got somebody watching over the financial side of things. Because I recognize that I’m not a numbers person and that it could all go completely awry if it were left to me to look at the numbers and understand what was happening.

“Having our part-time CFO has given my confidence in the business an enormous boost. I have no worries at the moment because our CFO lets me know when I need to focus on something. His input has meant that I am free to think about all the other things that I’m trying to do without worrying too much about the financial health of the business. When I do need to look at something urgently he can bring the issue into sharp focus then.”

In certain cases where the structure and complexity of the business dictates, it may be necessary to seek out a tax specialist (or even tax experts) to work alongside your part-time CFO. It’s your CFO’s role to determine the requirements for your business and ensure that the plan is implemented in the most effective and efficient way possible.

A CFO Centre part-time CFO will work with you to:

Determine your requirements and devise a tax planning strategy and remove the fear of the unknown so that you and your senior team can offload the burden.

  • Work with our wider network of tax specialists to solve complex issues as and when required.
  • Undertake negotiations with CRA on your behalf.
  • Implement processes that ensure that tax deadlines are met.
  • Translate specialist terminology into language you will understand and explain the plan in plain English.
  • Prepare cash flow forecasts for CRA that support applications to defer payments.
  • Devise an optimal tax efficient exit strategy for the business.
  • Ensure the tax advice fits with the overall business strategy
  • Discuss the most efficient ways for you and your employees to be remunerated.
  • Ensure that your company is kept fully up to date with new tax legislation.
  • Establish systems that record data the most effectively for tax purposes.
  • Deal with day to day legal issues – such as terms and conditions – and make sure your company is compliant.
  • Work with our wider network of solicitors to solve important/complex legal issues.
  • Help interpret legal letters and contracts.

Contact us today!
tel: 1-800-918-1906
email: [email protected]

Ensure you’re tax and legally compliant – Part I

Ensure you’re tax and legally compliant – Part I

Managing your tax and legal responsibilities effectively is a critical skill and one that few SME owners possess. This report explains why getting specialist tax and legal advice is crucial for all SMEs and how doing so can be hugely beneficial for businesses and their owners.  In these articles, we will see:

  • The benefits of being tax and legally compliant
  • How a part-time CFO will resolve your tax and legal compliance challenges

Complying with tax legislation is “an uphill struggle” for many businesses and results in the wastage of precious management time, according to the CBI.¹

It’s estimated that mid-sized businesses spend 110 hours or nine days a year preparing, filing and paying corporation tax, labour taxes and goods and services tax, says PriceWaterhouseCooper.²

Most companies need to comply with at least eight categories of tax. That doesn’t include the industry-specific taxes (such as those in the construction, waste management, and oil & gas industries) that they must also pay.

“Each tax has its own legislation, associated case law that has built up over years of interpretation, varying thresholds for calculations and qualification of reliefs, and a myriad of payment dates, reporting deadlines and filing requirements,” says the CBI. “It is difficult to comprehend, let alone manage. It takes time and effort to ensure that a business is fully compliant in the taxes it needs to collect on behalf of the government and pay in terms of its liabilities – distracting it from commercial priorities and reducing management capacity for strategic decision-making.”

Mid-size businesses don’t have the resources or expertise that large companies possess to navigate tax rules and legislation, nor do they receive the targeted support that the Government directs at small businesses.

John Cridland, the former CBI Director-General, said: “Medium-sized firms are not able to benefit from the incentives that small firms do and, at the same time, most cannot afford to have an army of tax consultants on speed dial to help them wade through the complexities of the system.”³

It’s no doubt why tax worries so many owners of mid-sized companies. As is the case with most finance-related matters, the anxiety usually stems from not having a strategy in place to deal with the issues which arise.

Medium-sized firms are not able to benefit from the incentives that small firms do and, at the same time, most cannot afford to have an army of tax consultants on speed dial to help them wade through the complexities of the system.

As soon as the business owner accepts that they need a tax specialist as part of their team, the faster they can offload the burden knowing that their back is covered.

In other words, because tax is inherently complicated it really doesn’t make sense for CEOs and business owners to spend their own time trying to understand the detail. Accepting that this is the case and delegating out the responsibility to a capable, experienced part-time CFO removes an immense weight from the shoulders.

When we conduct reviews with our clients, we often discover a deep-seated anxiety about the pitfalls of failing to understand tax issues.

The primary concern is usually the idea that the business may be building up significant arrears of tax, which remain unpaid.

There are often worries about whether or not the accounting system used is recording information in the right way and will reveal significant holes in the event of a tax inspection.

Corporation tax, HST, GST, the implications of capital gains tax vs. income tax, failing to claim tax breaks, employment taxes and understanding R&D credits are common areas of discussion with our clients as is the desire to keep up to date with new legislation.

Most business owners simply want to know that their company (and personal) tax affairs and legal issues are being properly looked after; that they are as tax efficient as they can be and that all statutory requirements are being met. Most companies do a poor job of this because tax is inherently complicated and when things get complicated in business the most common reaction is to move onto something else!

Delegating your tax planning and legal responsibilities to a tax specialist is a must.

Knowing that you are not paying tax you don’t need to be paying and having peace of mind that all your tax deadlines will be met without you having to take on the responsibility personally will allow you to focus on growing the business while we take care of the details.

Come back for part II of our tax compliant article to find out how a part-time CFO can help you navigate the tax season!


¹ « Stuck In The Middle: Addressing The Tax Burden For Medium-Sized Businesses ». CBI/Grant Thornton, www.cbi.org.uk, www.grant-thornton. co.uk. Juin 2014.
² « UK slips two places down league table of effective tax systems » Nicholson, Kevin, PwC (PriceWaterhouseCooper), www.pwc.com. 21 nov. 2014
³ «Medium-sized businesses need more support to stop them from falling over the tax cliff», Prosser, David, The Independent, Jun 23, 2014, www.independent.co.uk




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.

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.



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 – Part I

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

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.

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.

There’s also another type of financing: the alternative financing.  Come back for part II of this article, where we will discuss these alternative financing sources.


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

The importance of a business plan and how to create one – Part II

The importance of a business plan and how to create one – Part II

In our previous article, we have highlighted the importance of creating a business plan.  In this article, we will focus on the key elements of a business plan, the sections it should contain and how a part-time CFO can help you to create your business plan and implement it.

The key elements of a business plan

The most important part of your business plan is its financial information. Your financial forecasts should include your cash flow predictions for the next 12 months or more. You’ll also need to provide monthly sales estimates and costs to prove the business has enough working capital or to show that you understand you need to arrange additional financing.

You need to explain all assumptions in the business plan, with best and worst case scenarios. Detail the risks you’re likely to face and how they will be dealt with.

The Business Plan Sections

Executive Summary
The executive summary is usually the first section of any business plan and provides a condensed overview of what the business is and how you intend to reach your goals. If you’re seeking funding, you should detail the terms of the financing and the amount needed. It’s best to leave writing this section until after you’ve completed the rest. It should be less than 1,400 words.

Company description
This is like an extended elevator pitch. You need to explain your company history, business goals and how you satisfy the needs or wants of your market. You will also need to explain your competitive advantage.

Market analysis
You will also need to provide market analysis, size and expected growth as well as, industry participants, distribution patterns, competition and buying patterns, and your main competitors.

Organization and management
In this section, you need to detail your management team (and plans to fill any gaps within that team), your organizational structure, your Board of Directors, as well as a personal plan.

Service or product line
You need to describe your product or service and any associated copyright information or research and development activities.

Marketing and sales
You need to detail your marketing strategy (including pricing, promotion) and your sales strategy (including sales forecasts, programs, and techniques). Your costs, services, and support will also need to be included in this section.

Financial projections
This section outlines what you expect your business to achieve financially over the next three to five years. It needs to include your projected financial statements, expected cash flow and break-even analysis as well as key financial indicators and ratios. Don’t be tempted to overstate your numbers or expectations to obtain financing. It’s likely to harm rather than help you get that funding.

Funding request
If you plan to ask for a loan or capital, you need to include a formal funding request as part of your business plan. You need to include details of how much money you need now and how much you’ll need in the future.


How a part-time CFO can help you to create your business plan and implement it

The CFO Centre will provide you with a highly experienced senior CFO with ‘big business experience’ for a fraction of the cost of a full-time CFO. This means you will have:

  1. One of Canada’s leading CFOs, working with you on a part-time basis
  2. A local support team of the highest caliber CFOs
  3. A national and internationally collaborative team of the top CFOs sharing best practice (the power of hundreds) Access to our national and international network of clients and partners

With all that support and expertise at your fingertips, you will achieve better results, faster. It means you’ll have more confidence and clarity when it comes to decision-making. After all, you’ll have access to expert help and advice whenever you need it.

In particular, your part-time CFO will work closely with you to develop your business plan and your timetable for implementation to:

  • Gain a full understanding of the business and its operating
  • Work through the existing strategic plan with you and make necessary changes to build a plan which clarifies how the company’s objectives can be realistically achieved.
  • Agree on milestones and break down the plan into annual and quarterly targets.
  • Conduct a fresh SWOT (Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses, Threats) analysis, bringing the plan up to date.
  • Conduct a new PEST (Political, Economic, Social and Technological) analysis, bringing the plan up to date.
  • Carry out a full competitor analysis to understand in detail what is and isn’t working in the market.
  • Explore opportunities for effective market research to enable innovation and development of new products/ channels to market/operating procedures
  • Identify key players in the business
  • Identify skill gaps in the business
  • Agree financial incentive structures to retain and motivate key members of the team
  • Identify five key metrics for determining what the future course of the business should look like
  • Agree on the exit or succession strategy
  • Develop a clear, coherent message (vision/ mission/purpose) to staff and to customers
  • Work with the senior team to ensure individual department goals are aligned with the big picture strategy
  • Agree on a who/what/when set of objectives for all department heads
  • Implement accountability protocol for every member of staff
  • Determine methodology which allows the senior team to course correct periodically when a change in strategy is required
  • Agree on delegation of authority to department heads to spread responsibility across the business and to free up the CEO/business owners time
  • Create a feedback route so that strategic goals are regularly shared with staff
  • Develop a set of relevant KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and a system which allows for regular (daily/ weekly/monthly/annual) monitoring and reporting
  • Develop a long-term efficient tax structure for the business and for key employees
  • Identify key outsource suppliers/advisors and, in particular, corporate finance contacts

This process will instill a deep feeling of confidence both within the senior team and throughout the rest of the business.



Installing an up to date business plan or ‘roadmap’ in your business will allow you to experience a sense of control, which may have been absent since the day you started your company.

The business plan (and the methodology for updating the business plan) will remove a significant amount of confusion from your operating procedures. There will always be challenges contained within new projects but you will have a proper framework against which all decision-making can take place.

The plan provides the blueprint for delegating responsibility to your team and allows you to create some space in your own environment to work on growing your business, with your part-time CFO as a constant guide and sounding board.

You will move out of the chaos and into a more serene working environment where each of the gears, which make up the bigger system, is able to move in harmony.

Potential hazards will have been identified in advance and dealt with before they become unmanageable. You will be able to move from a culture of fire-fighting to a culture of fire-prevention and the benefits will be felt by each member of your team and most probably by your customers too.

The business plan is the first key to profitable growth!


Keys to Profitable Growth – Financial Reporting

Keys to Profitable Growth – Financial Reporting

Have you ever been so far off the grid – on a wilderness expedition, maybe – that your smartphone doesn’t know where you are? If you click on your “maps” app, your phone just shows you a blue dot, figuratively shrugs its shoulders and says, “You’re on the blue dot. But I have no clue what’s around you, where you’ve been or where you’re going.”

That uncomfortable “lost” feeling applies to more than just wilderness trekking. It can apply to your business – when you have no clear idea of which products or services are most profitable, how much you can afford to spend on new equipment, and whether you are on track to your goal (maybe, a comfortable retirement?).

So what’s the “maps app” for your business, so you can see how to get where you want to go? It’s your financial reporting system.

Financial Reporting – One Key to Profitable Growth

To be successful, you and your senior managers need regular access to accurate insights into your business. You need to be able to spot problems when they first emerge; measure and assess what’s working; identify and capitalize on opportunities, and recognize and manage threats.

When you know the reality of how your business is actually performing, you have a platform to confront the reality and can make decisions based on facts rather than speculation, bias and anecdotal evidence.

The importance of business reporting is twofold:

  1. To have visibility into the future (knowing what is likely to happen around the corner).
  2. To have retrospective visibility over past performance (that is, to analyze performance data and use it as a tool to course correct for the future).

A lot of businesses wait too long to introduce a proper business financial reporting structure. But without the right information collected in a timely way, effective analysis and robust planning is impossible.

Well-constructed business reports are the secret weapon for CEOs and business owners of ambitious growth companies. They will reveal how your company is performing and how far you are from reaching your goals.

Three key aspects to your financial GPS

While large companies have sophisticated financial systems tied to human resources metrics, production equipment, and inventory controls, you don’t need to get that elaborate – yet.

Start with mastery of three key financial statements:

  • The Balance Sheet
  • The Cash Flow Statement
  • The Profit and Loss Account

These reports can reveal such information as:

  • How effective your team is at controlling costs and deploying expenses to generate sales
  • Which of your products or services are the fastest growing and the most profitable
  • Your highest growth potential and most profitable customers
  • Where your break-even point is (how much sales the business needs to produce to cover all its costs)

Having all your business data at your fingertips means that you can spot gaps and weaknesses at a glance, have clear visibility over the future and course correct daily to ensure you are still en route to your destination.

Your company’s balance sheet: shows what your company owes and what it owes at a given time.  It reveals:

  • The net value of your company (which is useful if you plan to raise capital to finance future growth, sell your business, etc.)
  • Current and long-term debt obligations
  • Asset management (how effectively you’re managing your assets) and liquidity ratios

Lenders, investors and potential customers can use your balance sheet to assess your company’s creditworthiness, as well as its stability and liquidity – indicating its ability to fund growth without resorting to outside financing.

Profit and loss account: while the balance sheet is like a still image posted to Instagram, the P&L account is more like a video. It is the main way businesses determine how well they’re performing over time.

This is the main tool businesses use to gauge their profitability. It shows how well (or not) your company performed over a particular period of time in terms of revenue, expenses and earnings.

The Profit and Loss Account reveals the steps you can take to increase profitability (for example, whether to focus on more profitable product lines or services or to cut unnecessary expenses).

Investors will use your Profit and Loss Account to assess the ability of a Company to generate cash from operations, service current financing obligations and assess the level of risk involved in extending additional credit or venture capital to your company.

Cash flow statement: reveals how your company spends its cash (cash outflows) and where the money comes from (cash inflows) during a period of time. It is divided into three sections related to your company’s business operations: cash flow from operations, financing, and investing transactions.

Essentially, the Cash Flow Statement reveals whether or not your company has the cash to cover its daily activities, pay bills on time and maintain a positive cash flow. It also helps you to determine whether you’ll need additional working capital to buy inventory or to fund seasonal fluctuations.

Interpret your key financial statements using ratios

To interpret and understand the numbers contained in your financial statements, you should use financial ratios. The ratios are computed from numbers taken from the Profit and Loss Account and the Balance Sheet.

They measure performance in percentage terms rather than raw numbers. This means you can compare your company’s performance with other businesses in your industry, with your previous results and with your projections. _

Typically, owners, managers, and stakeholders look at four categories of ratios to analyze a company’s performance:

  • Liquidity ratios – show your company’s ability to meet its financial obligations
  • Profitability ratios – help evaluate your company’s ability to generate a return on its resources
  • Leverage ratios – show how your business is using debt, relative to capital
  • Efficiency ratios – reveal how effectively your company is managing assets.

Some ratios will be more applicable to certain industries and businesses than others. If you provide a service rather than sell products, then ratios like return on assets and inventory turnover are unlikely to be relevant to your company whereas the receivables revenue is critical to your business operations.

It’s best to choose the five most relevant ratios to your business and track those as part of your monthly management operating plan.


The benefits of having regular access to high-quality financial management reports are far-reaching. Good reports reveal the efficiency (or otherwise) of the constituent parts of the business and enable you to deal with potential threats and take advantage of opportunities to grow your business.

The compound effect of making regular, quick and high-quality decisions based on a strong set of data and reports cannot be overestimated.

Improve your banking relationship

Improve your banking relationship

Baking Relationship | The CFO Centre

Developing a strong relationship with your bank provides tremendous benefits including offering necessary funding, preferential rates, and better terms. Your bank can provide expert financial advice and help you to find solutions to financial challenges. It can also help you to grow your business and reach your financial objectives.

Since your bank works with a wide variety of businesses, it can also be an excellent source of prospective vendors, partners, and customers for your business.

As banks deal with SMEs in every industry, they are also an excellent source of information and advice about marketing, expansion, fraud prevention, and e-commerce. Some banks take the initiative and offer their customers business ideas and opportunities. So if you don’t have a strong relationship with your bank, you’re missing out in many ways that could help your business to prosper.

Very few business owners appreciate the value of having a strong relationship with their bank.

Why you should develop a strong relationship with your bank

Having a borrowing history and a solid relationship with your bank will make it easier for you to get credit.

It’s important to educate the bank on your business, your strategy, and your financials so that they are fully aware of your business and the vision you have for it, says banking expert, Peter Black of Snowball Consulting.1

Banking Relationship | The CFO Centre“You need to have a good relationship with your bank,” says Black. “If you treat the bank as a commodity and don’t tell them anything, then when you need them most, they may not be there.”

“Tell the bank the good and the bad news in equal measure, as and when it occurs,” recommends Black. “If you have a new contract or a good story, tell the bank about it. Many don’t do this.”

There’s more to it than regular phone calls, however. You also need to demonstrate that you have a coherent strategy and follow it, says Black. That will help to establish your credibility too.

“Continually changing the strategy or appearing to move from one to another does not give the bank confidence,” says Black. “The worst situation to be in is one where the bank does not even understand your strategy.”

Make sure the forecasts you provide are realistic and credible, recommends Black. “The bank will build up a history of how accurate the forecasts are that a business provides. No forecast can ever be totally accurate, but the banks see no end of forecasts showing a massive increase in profits and cash just to underpin the latest request.”

Let your banker know about regulatory changes that could have an impact on your company’s growth opportunities.

Banks need to know:

  • Who your customers are
  • Who your vendors are
  • What is going on in your industry

For that to happen, you need to establish regular communication with your bank manager.

Share your company’s long-term strategy with the bank. Your bank may be able to provide additional resources to help you achieve your goals.

Schedule regular meetings with your bank throughout the year so that he or she gets an accurate picture of your business. It will also make it more likely the bank will respond faster when needs or opportunities occur.

Baking Relationship | The CFO CentreThe stronger your relationship is with your bank, the better they will be able to understand your business when you come to them for advice and solutions to help it grow. Banks know things don’t always go as planned. They want to be comfortable that they understand your ability to deal with these situations and make good decisions to improve, building a track record with them based on trust, sharing information and debate. It’s astonishing how many business owners don’t invest in building a track record and strong relationship with their bank.

At a recent event focusing on how to build a world-class finance function, CFO Centre Group CEO, Sara Daw, found only four out of 50 business owners who attended considered their bank was a strategic partner to their business. This is far too low. At The CFO Centre, we make building a strong value-adding relationship with your bank a priority.

If you don’t have a good relationship with your bank manager, you’re missing out on more than a possible future credit facility. You’re missing a valuable free resource for advice and information.

Your bank can provide a regular evaluation of your business and financial strategy, as well as ideas and solutions to overcome many challenges you might face.

Banks also offer a wide array of services including:

  • Cash management tools
  • Credit card processing
  • Online and mobile banking services

Since banks deal with SMEs in every industry, they are also an excellent source of information and advice about marketing, expansion, fraud prevention, and e-commerce.

Banking Relationship | The CFO CentreThey can walk you through your balance sheet and explain how they perceive your finances and business. They can also learn more about where and when you’re likely to need the money to grow the business.

Giving information and asking for advice helps to build trust between you and your bank manager. Gradually, you learn to trust their advice and they begin to trust in your ability to repay your loans.

Banks hate surprises so if your business is encountering problems, it’s important to let your bank manager know as soon as possible. If you know that you’re likely to miss payments or be late in paying vendors, let your bank manager know in advance so they can assess the situation and provide you with options.

This will also demonstrate to your bank manager that you can manage the business and also be trusted to inform the bank before the problem gets worse. Your bank manager might even be able to extend your line of credit or temporarily waive your fees.

You can increase your chances of getting a loan or credit extension by demonstrating your ability to repay, whether it is a short-term overdraft or a longer-term loan. The bank will expect to see the proof so you’ll need to provide the following documents:

  • Your track record
  • Your previous results
  • A business plan (which needs to cover how the company started, your products/services; the management of the business and its plans for the future; market research undertaken to support assumptions and forecasts; and your financial requirements)
  • Your last audited accounts
  • Current and up-to-date management accounts
  • Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable lists
  • A budget for the current/next trading year
  • A cash flow forecast

How a part-time CFO will strengthen your banking relationship

Baking Relationship | The CFO CentreMany business owners are uncomfortable speaking with their bank manager. Owners and CEOs often do not know how to communicate their business strategy and needs to the bank and do not know what information the bank needs to support their funding requests. This is where an experienced CFO can be an essential part of your team; someone who understands how banks make their decisions and can, therefore, position your application for a greater chance of success.

Your part-time CFO will:

  • Develop a relationship with key personnel at your bank.
  • Share information about your business with the bank and keep the bank fully updated. The more trust that can be built the more the bank will be willing to help.
  • Provide the bank with a credible business plan which takes into account previous track record including debt and cash flow history.
  • Provide you with independent advice on bank products and their suitability.
  • Negotiate the best deal on bank facilities.
  • Provide access to senior contacts in the bank where required.
  • Introduce new banking options if needed and negotiate terms.

Your part-time CFO will work hard to forge a strong relationship with your bank so that when you need access to any of the bank’s services your request is treated as a priority.

What’s more, your part-time CFO has many years of banking experience so can advise you on the best banking deals.

Your part-time CFO knows where to go for supplementary funding to complement your bank finance (if necessary) and how to benchmark funding deals for your peace of mind.

CFOs can skillfully communicate your needs in a way that appeals to bank managers. That helps to add further credibility to your credit application.


Your bank can play a significant role in your company’s future growth, both in terms of providing necessary funding and strategic advice.

That will only happen if you take the necessary time and energy to foster a relationship with your bank manager. The benefits of doing so, however, make it one of the best investments you’ll make.

1 ‘How to get the most out of your banking relationship’, Black, Peter, Forum of Private Business, www.fpb.org