Talking to the experts: How Bill Finlay helps to improve business profitability

Who are you?
Bill Finlay, Director at Craig Corporate. I have been with Craig Corporate since 1997.

What is your role at Craig Corporate?
My role is extremely varied and includes everything from setting budgets for our whisky bottling company to performing financial due diligence assignments in the UK and overseas with a huge range of other activities in between.

Where can we find you?
Best way to connect is by e-mail Bfinlay@craigcorp.co.uk, telephone (0141 243 4980) or LinkedIn.

What does Craig Corporate do as a firm?
We provide private and public companies with business management, corporate finance, company turnaround and taxation services.

Our small team achieves the most satisfactory results by operating as an integral part of our clients’ businesses, but we also work on ad hoc projects to help improve business profitability. We also work in partnership with leading financial and professional institutions, which regularly refer clients to us.

Improving Business Profitability

Over the last 30 years, CraigCorp established a track record for creative and successful projects across the UK and Europe for businesses ranging from small, privately-owned enterprises to listed companies.

Examples of the range of their work include:
– Negotiation of a voluntary CVA with suppliers / trade creditors of a printing business with subsequent rigorous cash control to ensure survival;
– Helping a castings business negotiate financial assistance from a major aerospace customer in the form of accelerated contract payments;
– Raising finance for a biotech venture from major VCs;
– Advising on sale of a North Sea oil service business — just before the oil price crash;
– Implementing an effective job costing system for a furniture distributor;
– Numerous deal management roles in mergers / sales / acquisitions;
– Managing business cash flows and time to pay arrangements with HMRC;
– Project managing a corporate governance project for a subsidiary of a major multinational.

 

How specifically do you help fast growing SMEs?
There are a number of areas:
We help SME businesses grow by working with owners to clarify their objectives and helping them devise and implement clear action plans to achieve these objectives;
Help them raise finance through our contacts with banks, VCs and venture debt providers such as Boost;
Help them motivate staff through devising and implementing tax efficient staff incentive plans;
Improving their financial systems and occasionally digging them out of financial / accounting holes!
Helping owners exit in a tax efficient manner either through helping achieve a trade sale or through tax efficient succession planning.

What is your next assignment?
Next assignment is actually a financial diligence exercise for Boost — the business is looking to grow by acquisition and requires loan capital to help finance an acquisition.

What has been your most rewarding assignment in the past year?
Performing a strategy review of a data analytics business which the shareholders believed had lost its way. We were able to help refocus the business onto the right track and reduce costs.

What is the biggest challenge you see with growing businesses?
Most growing businesses suffer from a lack of good quality information, typically lacking both good KPIs which can tell if the business is moving in the right direction and decent forecasting tools which can help confirm if the business has enough cash to finance growth. This information should act as a prompt for the business owner / manager to take action accordingly.

Most growing businesses suffer from a lack of good quality information. #SME Click To Tweet

What have you learnt from these companies that you wish you knew 20 years ago?
20 years ago I was chief accountant of a travel business which was focussed on retail stores. The travel business has changed enormously since then and it has never ceases to amaze me since then at the huge number and variety of profitable growth opportunities that abound in almost every sector of the economy, even retail travel. Looking back, I would have spent more time exploring new niche opportunities and less time focussing on the day job.

What websites do you think every fast growing company should be reading?
My favourites are Google Finance, Real Business and of course BOOST&Co.

Craig Corporate: Improve Business Profitability