Speaker: Jennifer MacKenzie, CFO: Alex Marshall
What would you like to say to your CFO?
Jennifer MacKenzie: First of all, I'd like to say a big thank you to Alex, who has put up with us for 4-5 years now. I know how difficult that must be, it's difficult for us sometimes ourselves. I'd like to thank him for all the support he's given us, financial and more.
What one or two big issues/untapped opportunities were you facing before you started working with us?
Jennifer MacKenzie: Alex paid for himself within the first year of starting with us by sorting out a tax, well a VAT, issue, that we had, which he managed to get us a £75,000, roughly, rebate in that first year, and that's actually been an ongoing saving we reckon of about £100,000 a year, so Alex has definitely been really worth the money for us as a business.
What specifically have been the benefits to your business?
Jennifer MacKenzie: As a small growing company, Alex's financial expertise has been invaluable to us. He's an integral team member and he's on our board. He helps with the future and strategic planning. But if any of you know Alex well, you know he's happy to give his opinion on marketing, IT, just about everything, including HR where he's been part of the team that has engaged our new Managing Director. Alex also successfully led the team working on the sale of the business, which we eventually went down the route of an EOT, an Employee Ownership Trust, which has been great for us as a business, it suits us as a company, it suits our ethics and Alex, along with his work and also his contacts and network, that made it all go smoothly for us.
What have the benefits been to you personally?
Jennifer MacKenzie: Alex is an integral member of the team, someone I can trust implicitly with his advice, and having someone like that in your team allows you as a business owner to focus on the areas of the business that you enjoy, so for me that's basically everything other than finance, so it's brilliant to have Alex. One of the main things though, with something like that, is you need to have good communications and I had previously struggled with the information that I was given from practice accountants. Once, I was told not to worry about something, because it was just 'the black art of accountancy' to just actually having commentaries that were not helpful. So Alex does our monthly report, which you get all your facts and figures, etc., but for me the main thing, or the most important thing, is the commentary that Alex gives with it. It's that that helps us look at the past, look at the future and helps us with planning. So communication is very important because it then allows you to really concentrate on the rest of the business.
What would you say to others considering taking on a part-time FD/CFO?
Jennifer MacKenzie: Getting in a part-time Financial Director or Chief Financial Officer lets you, as a business owner, concentrate on the business, which, as I said before, is so important. It lets you concentrate on the things that you're good at and allows someone who's good at that side of the business to support you there. They bring a wealth of experience into the business that you won't have had previously. We have someone working in accounts, but the level that Alex, or whoever you would have, brings in is way above that. They give objectivity, so you know as a business owner it's quite often your baby and you're very protective of things, or sometimes you just, you know, your ideas are just not financially viable, so it gives you all of these things. I think it's essential to have someone like Alex in your team if you're looking to grow your business. You've got to have all these processes and management of your accounts done properly so that you are able to grow. So once again, there's a big thank you to Alex, and we draw on his skills and expertise for many things and it really is appreciated - all the work he's done for us. Thank you.