Jonathan Wheeler

Summary

An experienced and approachable Finance Director and accredited turnaround professional, Jonathan is passionate about helping SMEs to overcome their challenges and to achieve the best possible outcomes.

He has over 15 years’ experience in senior finance roles and in providing advice to businesses across various sectors in crisis management, distressed turnaround, growth, exit planning, refinancing and M&A.

Jonathan’s career has taken him from a Big 4 accountancy firm to a major international bank to working in boutique restructuring practices.

He is well-equipped to advise and work with clients who may be growing, changing, under-performing or facing the prospect of insolvency.


Experience

Jonathan is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has spent his career in senior finance roles in SMEs and in consultancy roles advising distressed and challenged businesses, including start-ups looking to exit. His career highlights include:

  • Exit planning – Finance Director/Turnaround Director for a start-up marketing and events businesses requiring an exit plan exit having suffered a 25% fall in revenue. Jonathan implemented a recovery plan to underpin sales performance and restructure the cost base to maintain profits and maximise the company value, more than doubling the business valuation upon sale as a result.
  • Growth – Finance Director for a group of management consultancy, HR and recruitment businesses helping to grow from c.£3m to £5m in a three-year period and achieving 30% operating margins.
  • Crisis Management and Re-financing – Jonathan acted as Finance Director/Advisor to a large education provider in south London which was facing a cash crisis and imminent closure. Jonathan worked with the Board to generate short term cash which allowed a longer-term plan to be formulated and a later re-financing of the business by an international education group.
  • Due Diligence and Investment Appraisal – Jonathan acted as Senior finance advisor to private equity/alternative lender group in the South West which targeted either distressed of growth SMEs requiring short-term financing and longer-term investment. During this role, Jonathan worked with a number of SMEs across various sectors including book binding, groundworks, food and leisure, and hotels producing cash flow and integrated financial forecasts for the businesses and advising the lender regarding its proposed investments.
  • Banking, Risk and Turnaround – Relationship Director in Barclay’s corporate team managing a portfolio of distressed businesses and reducing the bank’s lending risk.
  • Business Advisory and Insolvency – Jonathan spent five years in PwC’s restructuring team in London and the Thames Valley, advising mainly distressed businesses and gaining experience in debt advisory, pension deficits, and insolvency.

Whilst many of his roles have been in distressed situations, he is equally at home in working with growing businesses of any business which may be facing a challenge. His experience in Finance Director roles as well as acting as a business consultant and advisor and his experience as a turnaround director means that he is well placed to help businesses overcome their challenges.

Testimonial:

“Jonathan Wheeler is an accomplished, experienced and extremely reliable finance specialist who has occupied the role of Finance Director for a number of years but also worked as a consultant, advising on complex financial issues.  I have direct experience of his work in the education sector where he oversaw the financial system and processes of an institution in serious difficulty and, as a result, aided its recovery.  He is also a very engaging person and an effective communicator who can explain complicated financial matters to non-specialists seeking advice and assistance.  I most highly recommend him for senior roles in finance or as a key consultant on projects.”

Professor Sir Deian Hopkin


Case Study

Background

Case StudyIn 2019, a UK educational establishment was facing a bleak future. The organisation had always relied upon donations from its charitable foundation to break even and access to these funds expired in 2019. The business model (expensively rented campus, small group teaching, low student numbers) was loss-making without external funding. The institution was facing immediate closure if a solution could not be found.

Challenges

The organisation had reached crisis point. It was hemorrhaging cash and would not be able to continue trading past January 2020, when a new cohort of degree students would arrive to begin their studies. An options report had been completed by an advisory firm which concluded that the organisation had a high risk of insolvency and steps should therefore be taken to immediately safeguard the interests of students and creditors. Only an immediate financing would provide the headroom to allow a sale or re-financing process to be conducted to secure the future beyond the short-term.

Senior FD-level support was immediately needed to stabilise the financial position and to ensure that value was preserved so that a positive outcome could be delivered.

No management information had been provided by the finance team for many months and the quality of the financial data in the financial systems was very poor. An audit report for 2018 was overdue and the 2019 audit was also looming with going concern worries and a possible impact on stakeholder confidence. The organisation had breached the terms of its regulator licences in the UK and the US as a result of serious financial breaches.

Without accurate financial data, the Board was unable to make the key decisions that were needed to safeguard the future of the institution. This needed to be swiftly rectified.

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