Finance Director with more than 20 years’ experience in fast-growing SMEs (including two FastTrack100 successes). Robin is now building a portfolio career as a part-time Finance Director.
He has been involved in MBOs, raising debt, buying and selling companies as well as recruiting, developing and mentoring finance teams. In addition to the strategic role, Robin has run operations teams as well as finance and have extensive experience in business systems implementation.
He has always loved helping business owners and entrepreneurs achieve their objectives and hopes that his experience can help your business too!
Robin worked for a number of large, blue-chip organisations in the UK whilst qualifying as a Chartered Management Accountant. He took his first steps into the SME world as Finance Director of an IT reseller, where he was thrown in at the deep-end, negotiating the financing of a management buy-out. That was also Robin’s first experience of developing the processes, controls and finance team needed to manage a rapidly growing business and was the first of two Sunday Times Fasttrack 100 companies (www.fasttrack.co.uk/league-tables/fast-track-100/) he has been involved with.
His career continued in the IT sector, becoming the Finance Director of a small acquisitive group of companies which in many respects foreshadowed the portfolio career he enjoys today. This led ultimately to Robin being one of two key players in the MBO of one company in that Group, which he and the CEO went on to sell within two years to a rapidly growing international group. Robin continued in the role of Finance Director for the UK subsidiary during a period which saw it grow turnover from £14m to £196m through a combination of acquisitions and organic growth.
Since launching as a portfolio Finance Director in 2017, Robin has time with SMEs between 15 and 120 employees and revenue from £2m to £25m, including a leading craft gin distiller as well as working with clients including an architecture practice and a food manufacturer.
Throughout his career, a number of themes have recurred:
- Business Management Software Deployment – selecting and implementing ERP and CRM solutions in growing businesses, understanding business need and delivering clear business gains.
- Building finance teams – adapting financial controls and processes to meet the needs of growing businesses. Recruiting, developing and mentoring staff at all levels.
- Acquisitions and Disposals – evaluating and negotiating acquisitions, including as part of an MBO team. Fundraising to support acquisitions. Selling businesses and managing all legal and company secretarial duties related to a sale, purchase or start-up.
- Working capital management – negotiating with banks, customers and credit insurers. Managing cashflow and currency risks.
- Managing support functions – taking responsibility at board level for non-finance support functions: HR, Operations, Legal / Risk, etc. Allowing entrepreneurial MDs and CEOs to concentrate on growing the business.
- Reporting – help businesses in generating accurate and meaningful data based on set metrics, KPI’s reporting, models, forecasting.
As well as providing strategic direction for a business, Robin has a “hands-on” approach to managing finance teams and sees his prime focus as assisting entrepreneurial business owners and management teams to achieve their business and personal goals.
Management accounts production saves business sale transaction
The company was a small but fast-growing, privately-owned IT Cybersecurity Distributor and had recently upgraded from Sageline 50 to the NetSuite ERP system. Having upgraded part-way through their financial year, the accounts team was struggling to reconcile closing balances in Sageline 50 with opening balances in NetSuite. There were also some weaknesses in the NetSuite process to calculate cost of sales, and without a reliably accurate gross margin figure they were unable to report profitability. These two issues combined meant the company was unable to produce meaningful management accounts.
The company received an approach to buy a majority stake in the business and the lack of management accounts could have jeopardised the sale. Without accurate numbers the sale negotiations could not proceed and, if the situation was not resolved quickly, there was a danger the buyer would lose patience with the process and lose confidence in management.
Further analysis showed problems with the company’s VAT accounting; it appeared that the company had correctly accounted for, but underpaid VAT. This situation was a major worry to management and added further difficulty to the ongoing process of selling the company.