PE firms looking to exit will often put the finance function under scrutiny to work out where improvements can be made, and using an experienced CFO to support the changes needed for the exit can accelerate this process. Mark talks about the many facets involved in this, and how he sees the changes through a fresh pair of eyes.
1. When you are at a networking event, how do you describe your independent career status, and where you focus your work?
I am an experienced CFO/FD with experience of growth and change leading to excellent exits for PE and owner managers.
2. What are the specific benefits that you, as an independent, offer to the operating teams/portfolio company leadership? How do you explain the value your expertise brings?
I bring fresh eyes and experience in a breadth of areas:
- Experienced in working in partnership with the PE and the operating team especially in understanding, developing and executing the business strategy.
- Provide reporting, KPI's and analysis.
- Business strategy and modelling including profit improvement.
- Cashflow forecasting and management.
- Finance team management and structure
- Compliance - audit, tax, companies house
- Stakeholder management.
- Project Management including IT/systems.
- Exit or Buy & Build, integration process and execution.
- Fundraising and bank finance.
3. Why do you think there is increasing demand for independent expertise with PE operating teams?
To provide independence and fresh eyes to concentrate on executing the strategy, developing growth and transformation.
4. Describe a recent or successful assignment in terms of scope, duration and any particular highlights in the outcomes.
I was brought in to transition a long time CFO of a PE owned business to act as Interim CFO for 5 months in a £75m highly leveraged business. I delivered a transition plan agreed with the CFO where he did a full handover and completed key systems projects including developing the forecasting system.
This included restoring the Reporting, Forecasting and Analysis, understanding the bank covenant enabling more favourable reporting and re-establishing contact and credibility with the lender. I also revised the cashflow enabling control of purchasing and living within the bank covenant limits, invested in credit control to improve cashflow.
I developed the FD so I was able to leave and he was able to handle until the arrival of a new CFO a month later, and restructured the finance team to save £100k pa. The objectives set and agreed at the outset were more than achieved and the PE was able to exit shortly afterwards.
5. What advice would you give to anyone about to embark on an independent career as to how they can provide the best results for a client, while fulfilling their own career path?
It is important to focus on the best results for a client and meet their identified needs. There is always something new and new needs emerge, versatility is essential. Take the new opportunities to develop further experience. If you feel called to develop experience in certain specific areas, see if any of your clients may have needs in those areas and make sure they know you are interested. Equally do your research and training to be ready for the opportunity/ies and talk to recruiters and your network about how to obtain the experience.
Mark is the perfect example of the talent that can make a difference to your finance function available on the Talmix network. To find talent like Mark, or in different functions that can impact on the success of your portfolio, post a project today, or contact us to discuss how to create pools of relevant talent for current and future requirements.