The company that needed to catch up. (This is a composite of several clients that had similar challenges in East Africa.)
The client was introduced to us by their auditor. Their accounts were well in arrears and had not been done for over three years. The top finance people had left and the directors did not feel confident that the remaining staff would be able to bring the accounts up to date. Also there were fears that these junior personnel were unable to control the accounting and financial function. The directors were in a dilemma because whereas they required a replacement for senior finance staff, there was no assurance that they would be able to get the right one in time to deal with the very urgent audit that needed to be done. We placed a Chief Accountant and two senior accountants at the client’s premises. They mobilised the existing accounting team, took charge of routine accounting processes and within six months, were able to substantially clear the backlog of accounting, working late into the night with the client staff. The client was so pleased that they requested that some of the Virtual Executives stay on with them!
The company that needed to manage another company
The client was a venture capital firm which had taken a look at the finance function of its investee company and realised that there was a gap in the senior management. Rather than rush to select a permanent finance manager to run the new company’s finances, they called us in to provide a temporary CFO to manage the team in the investee company. Along the way, the consultant we provided needed to step away to deal with an emergency. We provided a replacement consultant instantly – there was no break in service. When the first consultant was able to resume, we brought her back as the client had come to particularly like her work. Once again, the client requested to keep the consultant. Not bad for a person deployed on a few days’ notice!
The organisation that needed to upscale its ability quickly (a composite of many similar clients across several different countries in 4 continents)
The client was growing significantly and had gone through the pre-funding stage and was now seriously thinking about a Series A round. They had some rudimentary financial models but were struggling with the concepts funders were throwing around. Terms like “runway”, “burn rate”, “EBITDA,” “IRR” and payback periods alongside a demand for audited financials using accrual accounting.
Once the diagnostic work was done, we embarked on an onboarding process that involved our experts redesigning the financial model to include the variables that matter the most. We also redesigned the chart of accounts to incorporate useful management accounting information (such as performance metrics), proposed internal control procedures where we felt that they were missing and set up third party add-ins to the accounting software (to handle expenses, vendors and inventory). We then started producing routine monthly reports.
Armed with up-to-date financial metrics and information accompanied by business intelligence (decision-making) analysis and credible forward-looking financial models, the client was able to meet with funders and negotiate significant new funding. (Some clients using this service have continued with us for years.)
The shareholders who needed to exit their company
Our client wanted to sell their company and move on to something else. They needed help making that happen. We advised them that they should work out the value of their company as a basis for deciding how much to ask for. We helped them work that out. We then helped them find other people who were interested in buying their company as a going concern. WE prepared a selling memorandum setting out the critical information necessary to enable potential buyers to make a bid. We put it in an online data room with information about how bids would be evaluated. We then collated the bids and advised the client about which bids should be pursued. Term sheets were issued setting out the basis on which the buyers were willing to proceed. We assisted in negotiating the terms and the prices. Eventually the sellers were able to realise the price that they sought and the buyers received an asset that was able to continue generating solid revenues.
The company that needed to learn IFRS 9 (composite of several cases)
This company was referred to us by their auditor. The newly mandatory financial instrument standard, IFRS 9 was now in force and the computations required to estimate provisions for credit losses (bad debts) seemed very confusing and complex. So complex in fact, that although the auditors knew how to work it out, they couldn’t help their client without creating a serious risk of self auditing.
We helped them work through the complex language of the standard, developed the models that made most sense, helped them find sources of expert information on credit risk on the web, proposed alternative simplified models where necessary and helped them think through the challenges of estimating risk where little or not information was available. We also participated in discussions with the auditors to provide clarity and additional support for the assumptions used. We also provided structured training for accounts and finance department staff. In some cases, clients felt confident enough to work the model and compute it without our input within two audit cycles.
The accounting patient – (composite of several similar cases across different continents)
The client approached us and said that they wanted our help reviewing and assessing the finance department, its staff, operating procedures and overall capability. We didn’t just rush in with our laptops. We started by asking the owners and top management what they they wanted to achieve and what were the strategic goals of the organisation. We wanted to understand if the accounting department was aligned to those goals in the first place. (When we met the staff we asked if they understood those goals.) We applied questionnaire tools to assess staff qualifications, internal controls, IT controls, organisation structure, financial reporting processes and even organisation culture. Thanks to the insights emerging from this kind of diagnostic work, the client was able to make far-reaching changes in the way they worked with huge improvements in the timing and delivery of information, elimination of fraud and better employee morale and productivity.
The company that needed to restructure
Our client was a small agroprocessor that had been struggling to stay afloat. We were called in to make an assessment of the reasons for its failure to stabilise and start making money for its smallholder farmer owners and to pay its loans. We carried out a diagnostic review interviewing various parties within the agricultural value chain including farmers, managers and customers. We assessed the regulatory environment and the vulnerability of the product to international markets and provided the board with conclusions that identified a number of key things that needed to be put right. We suggested how they could be done including how funding should be deployed to these objectives. This report was discussed at length with the organisation’s key stakeholders – management, shareholders and funders – and was the basis for a new strategy agreed on jointly by them.
We are grateful to all the clients who have allowed us to be part of their success stories and look forward to many more years of serving them. Do YOU need to change something to make your organisation successful? Please contact us to learn more about how we can help you do it. We’re eager to get involved!