Steven Mugglestone

The more I learn, the less I know

Posts Tagged ‘corporate finance

Great Corporate Finance Advice Is Never Just About Finance:

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….. and lessons from the Titanic

Ask a number of business people or the public in general as to how they would describe a corporate finance professional adviser and it is likely that they will say male, young, sharp suit, fast talker and generally an all-round slippery character, more intent on “doing a deal” than providing significant support and advice.  It is fair to say that during the pre-credit crunch days, this negative image was fairly common.

Times have changed, with more commercially experienced and generally well-rounded business professionals becoming part of corporate finance businesses, utilising and blending the skills and experience of entrepreneurs and finance professionals who have many years of experience working within businesses as well as advising them.

It is worth looking at what makes a great corporate finance adviser, why would a business use them and what are the common misconceptions as to what they do.

Finance Broker

The first key area to understand is that whilst corporate finance advisers do source finance, they are not merely a finance broker.  They act for the business to provide the best platform possible for the business to either start, acquire or expand.  This cannot be done by any individual who believes that picking up the phone and introducing two parties to do business is called a finance service, it is not.  It is merely that, a broking service, introducing parties.  Great corporate finance advisers provide so much more.

The Right Adviser

Ask yourself, as a business person, do you know everything; everyone; what works and what does not work; where your business is in the market place; the future of your market place; what you do well and what you need to address.  If the answer is yes, then Lord Sugar/Sir Richard you will not need a corporate finance adviser.  For the not so successful but rationale business people trying to work their way through the real business world, you do need support and you will find out “every day is a school day” and choosing the right adviser with the right experience will prove to be the most important decision that you can make.

Corporate Finance Adviser, Your First Finance Director (or assistant if you already have one)

A great corporate finance adviser will be a great business’ first Finance Director, or will be the greatest support to those businesses with an FD.  Your business or new project, acquisition or expansion is a journey, and for success you will need to have the best team and the best plans.  Here is how great corporate finance support helps:

Helping Set your Strategy

The old stereotype of a corporate finance adviser was of the young man, keen to do a deal, but severely lacking business and life experience.  This is changing and many corporate finance advisers bring a wealth of business experience from a wealth of businesses that have both advised and worked in businesses through good and bad times.  It is worth asking the questions, before appointing any adviser, what have you really done and who have you worked with.  Professionals who have worked for the same organisation all of their lives are likely to bring you the same party line.  You should ensure that you find advisers with not only the badges of business, success and qualifications, but the scars of business as well, illustrating real business experience.

With all of this experience, you can draw upon that knowledge and experience to build your strategic plan, covering customer and marketing strategies, systems and processes and people development, but also ensuring that the financial areas that underpin strategic plan are relevant and robust.

A great corporate finance adviser with help lead defining your strategic investment activity.  This will mean assessing where a business is going to channel its resources to improve;  ensuring that investments in both capital and human resource, marketing or other activities together with other related improvements and new areas that they are undertaking have a reason and a goal and that these are appropriately considered taking account of strengths and opportunities.  The costs and impact on the business can be measured and the future impact forecasted.  With a new FD, a great corporate finance adviser is ideally placed and qualified to ensure that strategic activities are appropriately considered, planned, assessed and monitored and along the way they can add to the creative and entrepreneurial flair gained from their experience in this area.

Strategic plans need to consider risk and risk management.  All project management and strategic plans will contain a risk register and risk plan.  Full consideration of both financial and commercial risks involved in all activities are considered and recorded and appropriate mitigation and insurance will be put in place.  This is not done for the sake of it, but is done to consider what can go wrong and put in places procedures and systems, as well as insurance policies, to mitigate them.

Any businesses should consider a time plan and a great corporate finance adviser will help ensure that an appropriate timetable is considered and worked to, including consideration of the most appropriate exit for you from your business.  This may be in respect of a specific area or the overall plan for the business leading to eventual exit by sale, or perhaps listing on a recognised market.

After all of this and underpinning a strategic plan is an appropriate funding structure.  The business’  own cash generation may not be appropriate to fund longer term investments and in return some higher risk areas may not attract bank or similar funding.  A great corporate finance adviser will help to ensure that funding is appropriate for both the timescale and risks related to the business’ activities and strategic plan.  An obvious key area underpinning funding for a business is the relationship with current and potential future funders.  Together with an FD, great corporate finance advisers are key to this relationship, whether banking, private equity or institutional as they understand what information is required and help to ensure that funders are comfortable with the current position of the business and its future aims, goals and requirements.

Helping to create the right operational support

Great Corporate Finance Advisers can really improve your business chances of not only securing funding but in many occasions can ensure their commercial success and improvement.

Many times individual or small teams of entrepreneurs arrive with an idea to start/build/acquire a business and these small teams have varied and complementary skills and strengths.  Many times, however, there is a skill set missing to launch the best team for the journey.  This may be a chairman/chairwoman, an FD, a sales and marketing director/adviser or chief executive.  A great corporate finance adviser will see this and will strongly advise what is needed and why.  Great corporate finance advisers will even lead the search and find that missing piece in the jigsaw.  If you thought that is what recruitment consultants did, it is worth noting that great recruitment consultants will find you what you want, but great corporate finance advisers will find you what you need.

It is also worth noting that as part of your team, you will need to ensure that all parties play to their strengths and so you will need help with controlled delegation, ensuring that the most appropriate structures and controls are put in place to allow senior members of the business to concentrate and be allowed to carry out roles that they are good at and that are crucial to the improvement of the business.  As an example, if the key director is also a key sales person, they should not be spending their time writing brochures, catalogues or processing orders, but they need to be comfortable that those areas can be carried out to the appropriate standard without them.

Do not forget good reporting to help improve the business.  A great corporate finance adviser will always ensure that the reporting format and what is reported is not about dwelling on the past but ensuring that appropriate areas are planned for and controlled.  The term key performance indicators tend to be over used but a great corporate finance adviser, together with an FD will always look to simplify the reporting to concentrate on key areas that really matter and these may not always be financial.  An FD will use budgeting as a control tool for reporting, but will also use benchmarking against best performance within the business and external to the business.  This is not done to dwell on the facts that the business is performing better or worse than others in a particular area, but to understand the reasons and address accordingly.  Sometimes you find that your competitors carry out some things better than you and if you can address these areas you can make a difference to the bottom line.

The use of benchmarking, budgeting and using key performance indicators by a great corporate finance adviser and FD will lead to identifying profit improvement, ensuring that operational reporting is used to enhance the earnings of a business.  An FD will usually be responsible for negotiating and agreeing many of the businesses supply and service contracts, but at the start a corporate finance adviser will get this going in the right direction.  This will mean that they will look to consider all relevant factors, model usage accordingly and ensure that competitive tenders can provide what the business needs.

Profit is one thing, but cash is king and a great corporate finance adviser will help to cement that ethos with you and your business.  Businesses do not go bust because of profits, but because they run out of cash.  Corporate finance advice will always tackle working capital and cash management.  The maths in this area is relatively simple in that with high stocks, work in progress and debtors with low creditors comes a strain on cash.  Systems need to be considered and put in place from the onset to control this area on a rolling weekly basis and on some occasions and with some businesses this will be done on a daily basis, to free up cash for use in the business.

Ensuring that your business is well supported from the start

There are many business functions that have to be done and are thankless task but someone has to do them.  As part of any business plan of operations, a great corporate finance adviser will help to ensure that these are dealt with from the onset and will work with an FD, who usually ends up with these roles to put appropriate support in place. These will include HR, IT and insurance (part of risk control and mitigation).  Whilst larger organisations may well have separate staff and departments in a smaller organisation and business these will inevitably be outsourced.  Outsourcing ensures that the relevant risks involved in these areas are controlled and mitigated and that costs are also controlled.

As the business and project is being  launched, this will involve a lot of legal documents and input and a corporate finance adviser will look to ensure that all trading areas are covered with appropriate legal agreements and documents including reasonable terms and conditions of trade etc.  A great corporate finance adviser will work closely with the businesses legal advisers (outsourced) to ensure that commercial matters are reviewed and considered in all of the legal agreements that the business adopts.

Finally, a great corporate finance adviser will look to ensure that the business considers the most appropriate structure for tax purposes from the start as well as help creating an appropriate tax mitigation plan going forward.   Whilst not an expert, they will ensure that appropriate tax advice is sort and that tax costs are mitigated and planned for, together with sensible structures being put in place to ensure that all relevant reliefs and tax breaks are made available to help the business, and individuals involved in the business to manage its tax costs.

A great corporate finance adviser is not just or only a finance broker, they will seek be the business’ closest ally, confident, adviser, FD, trouble shooter, solution finder, strategic thinker and planner.  They will be there, with you to launch your business and ensure that you are fully equipped for the journey, that you know where you are going, that you are protected for the journey ahead and that you will know when you get there.  They will be your best business friend as well as its greatest challenger and together you will achieve success.

Corporate Finance and lessons from Titanic

A final lesson, explanation and metaphor for 2012 and the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, we can use the analogy of that famous ship, newly constructed, together with the initial plans for its maiden voyage.  The ship, the crew and Edward Smith, the captain can easily be seen as a newly launched, funded and appropriately staffed business, but how did it get there and is it really heading in the right direction.  As a corporate finance adviser helping to ensure that the project is funded and is equipped to tackle the appropriate business journey and using the Titanic as the analogy, you would have considered the following:

  • Is the vehicle the appropriate and robust structure for the journey (i.e. are you also using the right and same rivets, which contributed to the structures failure)
  • Do you have the most appropriate crew and captain/leader with the most appropriate navigator/finance director and engineer/operations director, together the rest of the crew
  • Was Edward Smith, the right captain for job, so close to retirement, with pressures by management to set speed records for the crossing?  A chief executive, has to be strong and sometimes this will mean not succumbing to shareholder pressures,
  • Are you setting in the right direction and at the right speed (i.e. your business plan and growth strategy)?  If you are deliberately heading for choppy waters, are you equipped for that stage of the journey?
  • Do you understand the external factors affecting your journey, the weather conditions, the markets, taxation and various legal factors?   It is now considered that the Titanic sailed into an area where warm air streams came into contact with severe cold air streams from the arctic which not only resulted in an iceberg floating through but atmospheric conditions that went from warm to severely cold air over a short distance and visibility issues that meant that lookouts could not have seen the iceberg until it was too late.  These are all significant lessons for any business, pointing to failure due to a lack of good planning.
  • If disaster does strike can you cope with the aftermath?  Do you have enough lifeboats and do you have a disaster recovery plan.  The decision to limit the number of lifeboats on the Titanic was not only about considering the ship was unsinkable, but was also about the look of the ship and that lifeboats strewn along the ship were not aesthetically pleasing.  How many times have you heard similar argument in business when considering risk matters?  Great corporate finance advisers will help you to ensure that plans B, C and D are considered as well as planning for the worst situation while aiming for the best result.  Risk management is crucial and accepted in all project planning and for any business person this includes protecting yourself and your family financially by way of appropriate structures, ownership and insurance and commercially by way of how you plan to deal with commercial and other factors which can seriously affect your business.
  • For White Star, the Titanic disaster signalled the start of the end of their business, yet time and time again good and appropriate disaster recovery planning has saved a business.
  • Recent analysis suggests that Titanic was doomed from the start, in that a number of key individual problems, challenged and issues contributed to her disaster.   This alone is a lesson for businesses and corporate finance advisers alike.

Many business gurus claim that you learn more by failure than you do from success and with that in mind, a great corporate finance adviser will ensure that you, your business and your business plans are appropriately equipped to deal with the journey ahead.  Perhaps if this approach has been adopted by White Star and Titanic, history may have recorded that Titanic was the greatest ocean liner and success of its age, rather than the tragic disaster that remain as a key moment in our history forever.


Steven Mugglestone BA FCA
,
Citizen Corporate Finance
Finance Director Services, , McGregors Corporate Entrepreneurial Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers …….Really good for your business

McGregors Corporate are a Member of Probiz Tax, providing Innovative Tax Solutions to Owner Managed Businesses.

         

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Written by Steven Mugglestone

May 8, 2012 at 6:01 pm

SME Businesses Should Act Now To Secure This Major New Grant Funding Before It Is Too Late

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The New RGF Grant Scheme with Bank Lending

The government has announced details of the new Regional Growth Fund Grant Scheme which seeks to provide businesses with a grant amounting to 20% of the funding needed for a project, with the two major banks, RBS (including Lombard Lease Finance) and HSBC providing the remainder as lending.

Full details of £95m of the government’s banking RGF assistance can be found on the BIS site at: http://lnkd.in/8R4wJV

The Regional Growth Fund (RGF) scheme is a £1.4bn fund operating across England from 2011 to 2014.  It is administered by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills:  http://www.bis.gov.uk/

Given the discussions that we are having with banks and that the total grant fund has been capped at £95million, we believe that small and medium sized businesses should act now and secure this major new grant funding initiative before it runs out.

The Fund objective is to stimulate private sector investment by providing support for projects that offer significant potential for long term economic growth and the creation of additional sustainable private sector jobs – especially in areas which are currently dependent on the public sector.

RBS Group has secured £70m and HSBC has secured £25m of RGF to distribute to eligible customers.  This is open to customers acquiring eligible assets via a NatWest/RBS/HSBC loan and also through Lombard on a lease purchase (hire purchase) agreement.

The scheme is designed to support the purchase of assets by providing a supplementary deposit contribution – this will take the form of a grant.

  • The minimum amount of RGF that can be applied for is £5,000
  • The maximum amount is £500,000 per customer group (i.e. including any group companies)
  • The RGF element cannot exceed 20% of eligible costs
  • This minimum amount to be funded after customer deposit and RGF is £25,001.

As the RGF element is a grant, no repayment is required unless the customer breaches any of the RGF criteria.

We are advising our current and future clients to contact us now to discuss how they can benefit from this valuable business initiative.

Steven Mugglestone BA FCA,
Finance Director Services
McGregors Corporate, Entrepreneurial Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers
…….Really good for your business

McGregors Corporate are a Member of Probiz Tax, providing Innovative Tax Solutions to Owner Managed Businesses.

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/stevenmugglestonefca/
http://twitter.com/McGsCorporate
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhC0wlglePE
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/

T: 0845 519 5659                T: 0121 236 3317
steven@mcgregorsbirmingham.co.uk

Connect, call, talk, email, contact us, send a messenger pigeon and arrange a discussion, review and free meeting.

Written by Steven Mugglestone

November 17, 2011 at 9:45 am

Location, Location, Location, Cost, Cost, Cost, Service, Service, Service

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Location, Location, Location, Cost, Cost, Cost, Service, Service, Service

As any business should, we are constantly reviewing what is important to our current and future customers (yes, we are a business and yes, we have customers; we sell services and products; and yes they are also our clients as we have a professional responsibility to do what is best for them and to represent them to the professional standards that we have been trained to meet).  Customers and clients are not mutually exclusive, you ensure the best possible service to your customers and you will do the same for your clients.  Many accountants shy away from this, constantly referring to their clients, trying to disguise the simple fact that we are also in a business, our clients are also our customers.

From our research and understanding we have simplified the key issues facing our customers, when they look to choose an accountant and adviser down to three, location, cost and service.

Location, location, location

Some businesses only sell to their local market.  Most businesses look to sell to their local market and beyond.  Many businesses look to sell throughout this country and beyond, and in respect of Virgin Galactic well, it starts to go further than that.

Whilst most businesses look for customers across a wider geographical spread and are happy to travel themselves, they will look to choose an accountant within a mile or so of their offices.  Why, when the accountant and their staff can travel and we live in a world where communication is almost instant.  I remember a time, not so long ago, when documents and plans being drafted were sent by post and returned with manual mark-up changes.  This is now instant, technology has moved on.  We are moving to the provision of monthly online accounting for clients as well as keeping up with the online filing with HMRC and Companies House.

A business does not have to walk around to their accountants office to discuss a problem, depending on an accountant’s approach to email, you are likely to get better value from your accountant by emailing your query and getting a written response, rather than exchanging niceties face to face or over the phone which, unless you have a fixed fee arrangement, you would be paying for under the traditional/old fashioned hourly charging basis of many practices.

An accountant who is available via email can give a more considered answer to your question and provide links to useful resources. There are also very few queries which need an instant response.

You may also consider whether your accountant needs to be local at all. Do you really need to have a regular face to face meeting? Do you value having a local accountant over the distant, competent/specialist, cost effective accountant? Perhaps there is a middle ground, literally as we generally help clients within the Midlands region of the larger West Midlands/Birmingham area, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire.  All of this is achieved within an hour’s drive from one of our offices.

In over 20 years in practice, I find that a client/customer face to face meeting is becoming less and less necessary, although we very much have appropriate meetings with clients directly as part of our key planning process to ensure that we are still providing our client with the most appropriate advice and service. Correspondence is generally via email and telephone. Queries/advice are usually emailed and read/answered at each other’s convenience which is more efficient than leaving messages for each other to call back and also the questions/answers are more focussed.  Meetings are still held to discuss key issues and for periodic updates, but these should be focussed to achieve an appropriate outcome for both parties.

Some accountants will “sell” location, but just because they have an office on your doorstep does not mean that they will provide you with the most appropriate service and advice and at the most appropriate cost to you.

Some accountants and auditors actually seek to perpetuate the myth that location is vital by seeking to send their staff to a client’s premises to spend longer than is actually necessary.  For those out of the audit profession, most audits can be split into equal thirds of time; a third planning, whereby information is gathered and key issues are identified; a third fieldwork, whereby the audit testing is carried out; and a third completion, when reports of key issues and treatment and checklists are completed.  Only the fieldwork requires staff to actually be at a client’s premises, and then not for all of that time either.  Some accountants actually encourage their staff to spend longer at the client’s (customers’) premises than is necessary to make it look as if significant time is being spent, when mostly the client’s staff could do without the auditors being there for longer than is necessary.  We are honest enough to explain that to our client’s the process and will only spend the appropriate time at the client’s premises.  If the managing director wants us to be there longer as they see the visibility of the auditors as important then we will, but this will done as part of an honest discussion around what is actually required.

Cost, Cost, Cost

Interesting one, and a key issue that many accountants really do shy away from, when many other businesses have to transparent and open.

The key issue is that many accountants continue to use an outdated (Victorian) business model for their own business.  They charge by the hour (usually by 6 minute units) and continue to do so for whatever they do, and some firms 6 minute rates can be quite high (let alone an hour).

There is a different model and certainly one that we adhere to.  General compliance work (i.e. the stuff that has to be done for legal/tax reasons, the accounts, audit and tax returns) is a commodity product and can be set at a fixed price and this price does not need to use high charge out rates with partners charging even higher rates for their minimal input.  The majority of this work is process driven and costs can be kept low.  Many SME businesses pay far too much for this work.

A separate area of service is where you can actually make a different to a business; save them tax; reduce their costs; increase their profits; grow their business or find them finance.  Again, is an hourly rate appropriate?  We do not think so and will always look for the fee/cost to the customer to reflect the VALUE of the work done and SAVINGS or IMPROVEMENTS that we have achieved.  Surely this is WIN/WIN in the game theory rules of business.  A dark art, I do not think so, but honest and open business.

Service, Service, Service

“You pays your money and you takes your choice,” well, sometimes.  Service covers a multitude of areas, including, but not exclusively being polite and acting quickly for your customers.  Most clients/customers use the term Pro-active, when asked what it is they are looking for from a client.  To be pro-active, you have to offer a wide range of services to a client and understand where the client is going, where they are now and what are their aspirations and goals.  You also have to care; none of this is about completing accounts that are six months or more out of date.

We believe that to provide great service for all SME businesses there are number of key factors:

  • A partner lead service from an experienced, approachable and positive business professional
    (many accountants can either sit in ivory towers or just do not have the drive or experience)
  • The ability to grow and drive a business with the skills of a commercial Finance Director,
    (most accountants have never worked within a business or part of a business at all, yet claim to be business advisers and specialists)
  • The provision of strategic marketing and sales opportunities to grow a business organically
    (most accountants do not understand marketing and shy away from this crucial support)
  • The control and reporting skills for a business with the skills of experienced auditors
    (most small and mid-tier accountants, have never been part of large complex auditing or accounts assignments, and larger firms can cost…..a lot!)
  • Obtain finance to ensure your business continues to grow
    (corporate finance is still a crucial part of a business success and requires experienced and “well-connected” professionals to deliver appropriate funding)
  • Provision of innovative tax saving structures with the support of imaginative tax specialists
    (large firms sell their own “products” under the heading of advice, small firms tend to hide under a rock, but tax planning is still very crucial and strategies and planning opportunities change as often as tax laws do….. tax laws change as the tax planning proves to be effective and legal.  Some people claim that these are loopholes, when actually it is the law)
  • Control and reduce your costs with utility, insurance and other key supplies associates
    (in today’s climate cost control is vital, and this includes your audit, accounts and tax compliance costs as well, but find an accountant who can source other cost reduction reviews, as part of my first FD position, we reviewed, re-modelled and re-tendered out all main costs, having fully understood what usage we faced .… and this included the audit)
  • Innovative structures to protect and grow your wealth
    (never have an IFA/wealth management specialist provide support without being part of an accountant team, they need to work together)
  • To maximise your wealth and value of your business when the right times comes for you to sell or retire or pass on your business to your family
    (experience, experience, experience and the skills of an FD to really groom your business for sale)
  • Pass the barbecue test.  I spent some time with a UK wide group of FDs and after all the experience and qualifications part of the recruitment process, the final part of the recruitment procedure was whether you were a person who you actually wanted to spend time with, have a drink with at a bar or barbecue, someone interesting and with personality.
    (ACCOUNTANTS/AUDITORS …… enough said!)
  • All of this should be provided with a smile on their face and with real positive attitude and energy.  Their aim is to improve your business and personal situation and their attitude and drive to do this should shine through.

Get yourself the right accountant today and you will not be repeating this process for years at a time, but also do not be afraid to get a check-up and re-tender a service proposal to find out what else is out there.  Accountancy firms change; some get better; some get lazy; some get more expensive and some never had it in the first place.  Better yet, you will save yourself tons of time and money in the long run, and you will have a new trusted partner to bounce ideas off of down the road.

A Final Joke

A newly qualified chartered accountant applies for a job advertised in the Times.  He is interviewed by the owner of a small business who has built it up from scratch.

“I need a qualified accountant,” says the man, “but mainly I’m looking for someone to do my worrying for me.”  “How do you mean?” says the accountant.  “I have lots of things to worry about, but I want someone else to worry about money matters.”

“OK,” says the accountant. “How much are you offering?” “You can start on sixty thousand,” says the owner. “Sixty thousand pounds?” exclaims the accountant, “How can a business like this afford
to pay so much?”

“That,” says the man “is your first worry.”

Steven Mugglestone BA FCA,
West Midlands Area Director and Finance Director Services

McGregors Corporate, Entrepreneurial Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers
…….Really good for your business
McGregors Corporate are a Member of Probiz Tax, providing Innovative Tax Solutions to Owner Managed Businesses.

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/stevenmugglestonefca/
http://twitter.com/McGsCorporate
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhC0wlglePE
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/contact-us.html
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/

T: 0845 519 5659
T: 0121 236 3317

steven@mcgregorsbirmingham.co.uk

Connect, call, talk, email, contact us, send a messenger pigeon and arrange a discussion, review and free meeting.

Accounts, Tax and Business Advice Sale ……… Must End Sunday!

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Accounts, Tax and Business Advice Sale ……… Must End Sunday!

  • The McGregors Business Advice Sale …….. Must End Sunday at 5pm.
  • Think Accounts, Tax and Business Advice, think McGregors.
  • Happiness is an adviser called McGregors.
  • McGregors refreshes the business parts other Accountants cannot reach.
  • Don’t start a business without them.
  • Probably, the best Accountants in the Midlands.
  • You’ll like us so much, we’ll help you buy the company.
  • I think therefore I’m McGregors.
  • Businesses wouldn’t give a XXXX for anyone else.
  • Make the most of your business, now.
  • McGregors, the best a business-man (or woman) can get.**

I am not going to say that I have seen it and done it all, as I am a great believer in the saying that every day is a school day.  I have, however, worked a bit, in audit, tax, accountancy, finance and business from both sides of the desk and (hopefully) seen what works and what does not.

Back in the 1990’s some Accountants came out of the closet and declared that they were “Business Advisers”.  The successful ones spotted the niche in the market, acted on it and built their businesses around it.  They proved that they were real businesses and, perhaps, real entrepreneurs.  I worked for one of those businesses at the time.

The issue (I will not say “problem” as I subscribe to a business life philosophy that a glass is half full with us striving to fill the glass, we intentionally avoid the negatives) is business is a broad subject, whilst centred on a very easy basis of customers, sales, products or services, staff, costs, profits and cash.  Accounts, audit and tax are only part of the world of business.  How can an “Accountant” claim, with any degree of experience, confidence or gravitas that they are a Business Adviser.  Well, I have looked at the theory, been on some courses, spoken to one or two people and my answer is …… Experience…. Real World Experience….  Real World Varied Experience….. Sometimes helping with success and sometimes helping after failure….. Something gained out of the box and away from the text books.

Can you, therefore, put all of your experience together and produce a business offering that is relevant to today and of real worth to a business, to be able to again create a niche and really become a successful Business Adviser and, dare I say a successful entrepreneur.  I believe that you can.

Leadership

Leadership and dynamic change management is crucial.  I agree with the theory and I have lived and worked the theory in businesses that I have worked with as an adviser and as a Finance Director.  Time and again I return to the basics to help businesses achieve and these are the key foundations to success.

  • Love your employees; include them in the decision making.  Ensure that you have appropriate appraisal and development programs.  They are the life blood and success of the business
  • Building capacity; Documented systems and process really do help, but it is the competencies, resources and motivation of the team that is crucial.  Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus, with the right people in the right seats.
  • Connect peers with purpose.  Your team need to learn from you and each other.  Your business adviser and accountant also works with lots of other business and can help match your team members with other business to improve without the fear of losing staff.
  • Learning is the work, consistency and innovation.  The depth of understanding in your team is crucial and an absolute key to not only improving the business but also in adding to the capital value of a business, ensuring that the business owner can leave or sell the business and that business can continue without them.
  • Transparency and openness:  Do not treat your team as mushrooms.  Information, seeing how the business is performing with some key performance indicators is very powerful and for the more developed businesses a 360 degree appraisal system to allow the business leaders to be appraised by the more junior members of the team is revolutionary.
  • System learn (and improve); Once established your systems will and must improve and develop.

Knowledge and information

Knowledge and information is accepted to be vital in driving a business.  It is alarming, however, how many businesses do not have appropriate systems to give them key information, to help them control and drive a business.  It is also quite remarkable at the number of businesses people who believe that they know their business only to be proved wrong when the accounts are produced, often months after a period end and too late to act upon.  Large and established businesses use accounting and key performance indicators for a reason and SMEs should do the same if they really want to drive and improve their business.

The key to this is to have timely information that is relevant to monitoring, controlling and driving a business and an experienced Accountant and Finance Director will be able to help with this.

Cash

Working capital and cash control, live it and breathe it.  It is the life blood of a business.  Easy for an adviser to say, perhaps, however, a real adviser that can help and add value to your business is one who has controlled a business and has controlled the cash and working capital and one that can help steer you through this challenge, one that can help you control the cash also can find and source solutions, banking and facilities with you.

Ensure your Audit adds value

An audit is an opportunity to get an independent review of your business and to obtain some key and helpful observations and information to improve your business.  It should not just be a matter of signing an audit report.

Combining the experience and expertise of a formal audit approach from larger audit practices with the commercial experience of a Finance Director, an audit can produce an effective key issues memorandum that gives a business some serious food for thought including:

  • Explanation and clarification of financial performance for key areas and Key Performance Indicators
  • Use of valuable benchmarking data to see where our improvements will be crucial
  • Explanation of your tax position and assistance with a tax strategy
  • Improvements to your working capital
  • Assistance to groom and improve your business and business systems
  • Tell you about current and future legislation and tax changes affecting you and your business
  • Identify key control improvements and, more importantly, controlled delegation to help the business owner to work on the business and not just in it

Access to Finance

Whether it is helping develop your business plan (and I will refrain from going on about how a business is there to improve a business and to drive a business, not just for raising finance), Accountants have access to finance and we have access to a whole range of financial solutions which we help to source and secure for our clients.  Whether this is bank lending, asset or alternative finance lending or business angel and private equity/venture capital investment, we can provide the expertise, support and opportunities that businesses need.  Corporate Finance, whether raising money or buying and selling a business is not for the inexperienced and real professional independent help and support is vital.  A successful Business Adviser must have this support in their locker.

Tax and business structures

Back to what we are trained to do, it is remarkable, however, at the number of times we see advisers either not explaining what tax and business structures are appropriate and what are currently available; either because they do not know what is available; or because of internal commercial agreements that mean that they are only prepared to tell you about their own specific “product” ranges.

Tax is complicated, but it is not impossible to deal with.  Structures are available to help a business grow, whilst keeping the tax costs down.  Remuneration and cash extraction is possible without having to reach levels of tax that make it prohibitive.  Wealth management, pension maximisation, wealth preservation and maximisation are still key tools available to the accountant and all of these possibilities should be brought to a client’s attention and discussed.  Open and honest, what can be done and what cannot, some accountants do not do this as they believe that they really know their client and they would not want to participate in such structures or that their own business only offers a limited product range. My view is that the client should be made aware and the client should decide for themselves, with appropriate guidance and advice being given, including a review of the risks and opportunities.

Our role is to ensure that our clients and their businesses succeed and become as profitable and cash generative as they can be and this has to include a tax strategy.  Another key part of providing relevant professional tax support is the ability to stand up for our clients and represent them in dispute, arguments, minor tiffs or just day to day frustration in dealing with HMRC.

Costs control

Again, there are routes and strategies to keep costs down and a real Business Adviser must have access and knowledge of these to really help a client.  To name a few:

  • Specific cost reductions from utility and key supplier review and sourcing
  • Modelling key purchase usage and assisting with tendering
  • Outsourcing of certain functions (including IT and accounts processing)

Sales and business development

It is all well and good looking at keeping costs down in these austere times, but for a business to really succeed, sales, marketing and business development has to be at the top of the agenda.

Accountants are not sales people are they, and what do they know.  Well again, as a Finance Director, I was an integral part of the sales and marketing process.  I had to be, as I needed to be able to see the results of bigger sales and more cash, or not as the case may be.  Internet optimisation, online marketing, social-media marketing strategy, targeted marketing, knowing your customers, prospecting, cross selling and up selling, rolling marketing initiatives, networking, the pipeline, converting, keeping and improving business with your customers, cross referring and introducing our clients to our other clients and our clients to our key contacts.  Applying techniques from professional services businesses, retail businesses, technology business and manufacturing businesses and understanding what works.  That is why I am a real believer that helping our clients with building their business is crucial to our own success and is absolutely key to being a real Business Adviser.

My last blog I wrote about why Accountants are not boring.  I am an Accountant, but first and foremost, I am a Business Adviser and some have even called me an Entrepreneur, which according to Lord Sugar is a title that has to be earned and referred to by others and not one that you can call yourself, so it is a start.  Accountant, Finance Director, Entrepreneur, Sales-Person, Business Adviser is a heady mix, but one, I believe, that seeks to provide real and relevant support to my clients and customers.

To take advice out of the DFS book of marketing, surely such service and product sale must end soon, yes it must end on Sunday at 5pm !!!!!

** Theft of any advertising strap line is not intentional and McGregors apologise profusely to all those wonderful businesses that we borrowed their creativity from.

Steven Mugglestone BA FCA, McGregors Corporate, More than just Accountants!

McGregors Corporate are a Member Of Probiz Tax.  We provide Innovative Tax Solutions to Owner Managed Businesses.  We are relentless in helping businesses.  Here are some examples of how we do that:

Midlands Investor Network – 18th May Spring 2011 Event and Current Businesses
http://wp.me/pQyUg-3S

How an FD drives a business when sometimes Accountants are just catching up
http://wp.me/pQyUg-j

We like to keep things simple, for ourselves and our clients;
We build our business by reducing our clients’ business and taxation costs;
We build our business by increasing our clients sales;
We build our business by helping our clients succeed in their business;
It is that simple and we meet you to discuss all these things for free;

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/stevenmugglestonefca/
http://twitter.com/McGsCorporate
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhC0wlglePE
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/contact-us.html
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/

T: 0845 519 5659
T: 0121 236 3317

steven@mcgregorsbirmingham.co.uk

Connect, call, talk, email, contact us, send a messenger pigeon and arrange a discussion, review and free meeting.

Midlands Investor Network – 18th May Spring 2011 Event and Current Businesses

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Midlands Investor Network – 18th May Spring 2011 Event and Current Businesses

The Midlands Investor Network Group is holding a second “Showcasing and Networking” event on Wednesday 18th May at 6.30pm.

The evening will, again be at The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, 4th Floor, 2, St Philips Place, Birmingham, B3 2RB at 6.30pm. We will showcase between 6 and 8 business opportunities.  We can outline some of those businesses already and have a very brief outline of some of the opportunities available below.

To attend the event, please contact Christine Gilligan T: 0121 236 3317 E: c.gilligan@mcgregorsbirmingham.co.uk.  We are requesting a £10 fee to cover the costs of the event, however, at the previous event all funds were donated to the Birmingham Acorns Children’s Hospice.

We already have a number of businesses who are working with us to attend the event and promote their businesses for future investment.  As we intend to continue with the event being held seasonally throughout 2011 and beyond, both in Birmingham and in other Midlands cities, we would welcome more businesses looking for investment to be part of future events.  Our founding group meet regularly to review new businesses and this is an on-going process so current business plans and presentations are very welcome to be submitted for review.

The businesses that we have accepted so far include the following exciting opportunities:

Medical device opportunity

This company has developed a lightweight patient carrying system to carry patients through body scanners.  The innovative board allows the scan to be carried out for 360 degree review with limited interference from the board itself.

Branded Footwear Online Retailer

This company has established itself as the largest independent retailer of footwear online, having been one of the first-movers in the sector back in 1999.  The company now benefits from an extensive product portfolio that includes some of the most sought after names in the branded footwear market.

The company has been heavily active in Europe and plans to exploit the emerging online EU market.

App Gaming Business

Developing games for App use for I Phone, Windows and Android formats, this new business is launching its first game.  The owners/developers have come from a gaming background, having worked for larger gaming businesses.

File Encryption Key Business

The company has developed and patented a unique key system that encrypts computer files with a secure encryption system and algorithm.  This is being developed to allow cloud and internet applications to replace the need for passwords but ensure significantly improved file security.

Toothbrush Cleaning and Storage System

The company has designed a unique and stylish toothbrush storage system that both stores, cleans and sterilises the toothbrush.

Educational Game

The business has developed an educational family darts game and already has the interest of Tesco as a retail outlet.  To promote the game, the business has also the support of former world’s darts champion, Phil “The Power” Taylor.

Classical Crossover music project album and tour

This entertainment opportunity is a cross-over classical music project bringing together a young soprano with the writers of the music of Lord of the Dance.  The project takes classical music and interprets the pieces into modern dance and ballad tracks, mixing modern key board with a world famous violinist.  The project has part completed an album and is looking to both complete the album and commence a UK tour.

Steven Mugglestone BA FCA

Area Director
McGregors Corporate

steven@mcgregorsbirmingham.co.uk
www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk

T: 0121 236 3317

Midlands Investor Network

Else Solicitors LLP                              www.elselaw.co.uk
BA Capital                                           www.bacapital.co.uk
Citizen Corporate Finance                 www.mycitizen.co.uk
RBS/Nat West                                    www.rbs.co.uk
McGregors Corporate                        www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk

Written by Steven Mugglestone

April 22, 2011 at 7:27 am

Advice is on hand to help Birmingham SME’s grow

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Businesses from throughout the City have come together at the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce to ‘ask the experts’ about obtaining finance and to talk about how to trade successfully in the current economic climate.

The Finance Surgery event – which was held at the Chamber’s offices in Harborne Road – was organised by the Chamber of Commerce, NatWest Commercial Banking and McGregors Corporate Accountants.

One of the key reasons for holding the event was to remove some of the mystery around funding options for SME’s and to help them understand the most appropriate funding solution for them. There was also support available to help businesses understand how banks assess funding requirements and how to work with accountants to explore funding and growth options.

The event proved so successful a second event is planned for 22nd March at the Chamber.

Commenting on the event, Claire Bunning from NatWest Commercial Banking, said: “For many SME’s the word to describe recent years has been “survival”, but now that economic prospects are slowly picking up discussions are beginning on how owners can make the most of their businesses. At NatWest we remain active and our appetite to support remains firmly intact as this event demonstrates. Our role as an experienced finance team remains unchanged. We are working with our colleagues and professional contacts such as the Chamber and McGregors to understand and support SME’s and events such as this really will help local businesses and the economy.

Steven Mugglestone from McGregors Corporate Accountants added: “An event like this shows why it is crucial for businesses to work with more commercial accountants to explore the most appropriate business structures, taxation, funding and business growth options, rather than just number crunchers.”

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group in partnership with
NatWest and McGregor’s Corporate Chartered Accountants

Steven Mugglestone BA FCA
www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk

We like to keep things simple, for ourselves and our clients;
We build our business by reducing our clients’ business and taxation costs;
We build our business by increasing our clients sales;
We build our business by helping our clients succeed in their business;
It is that simple and we meet you to discuss all these things for free;

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/stevenmugglestonefca/
http://twitter.com/McGsCorporate
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhC0wlglePE
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/contact-us.html
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/

T: 0845 519 5659
T: 0121 236 3317

steven@mcgregorsbirmingham.co.uk
Connect, call, talk, email, contact us, send a messenger pigeon and arrange a discussion, review and free meeting.

Written by Steven Mugglestone

February 23, 2011 at 8:52 am

New and established businesses seeking funding being recruited for the Spring/Summer MIN Investor Event

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New and established businesses seeking funding being recruited for the Spring/Summer MIN Investor Event

Following the success of the launch event in January and the interest and further negotiations taking place for the initial group of businesses presenting, we are now organising a second event for late spring (date to be announced).

Businesses looking for funding and wishing to have the opportunity to present to a group of potential investors should start to contact us now for an initial review and discussion.

steven@mcgregorsbirmingham.co.uk

T: 0845 519 5659
T: 0121 236 3317

Midlands Investor Network Launch with a Song and Dance
http://wp.me/pQyUg-2S

Events are being organised in the West and East Midlands

Steven Mugglestone BA FCA, McGregors Corporate, More than just Accountants!

McGregors Corporate are a Member Of Probiz Tax.  We provide Innovative Tax Solutions to Owner Managed Businesses.  We are relentless in helping businesses.

We like to keep things simple, for ourselves and our clients;
We build our business by reducing our clients’ business and taxation costs;
We build our business by increasing our clients sales;
We build our business by helping our clients succeed in their business;
It is that simple and we meet you to discuss all these things for free;

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/stevenmugglestonefca/
http://twitter.com/McGsCorporate
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhC0wlglePE
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/contact-us.html
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/

steven@mcgregorsbirmingham.co.uk

Connect, call, talk, email, contact us, send a messenger pigeon and arrange a discussion, review and free meeting.

Written by Steven Mugglestone

February 9, 2011 at 11:28 am