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Sharing The Wealth: Insights Gained and Lessons Learned as an SME Portfolio FD

In the latest issue of Northern Insight Magazine, Steven Jones looks back on his experience in the North East SME sector and gives his three 'universal truths' which he believes are fundamental to growing a flourishing business and forging a successful career.

The last 10 years working as a Portfolio Finance Director have undeniably been the most professionally rewarding period of my career. I have met some fantastic people, driven by their commitment to the businesses they have created and grown, and have shared in working with them through sometimes difficult and sometimes spectacularly successful times. And these experiences have helped crystallise three universal truths.


A business may be the labour of love of an enthusiast, it may be a long-standing family business employing friends and family, it may even be a charity, but the ultimate purpose of all that effort is to produce cash.

Each and every single decision a business owner makes should have, as its first and most important consideration, ‘How will this decision alone affect the bank account?’. There are many and varied decisions to be made when running a business – granting customer discounts, agreeing supplier payment terms, or making capital equipment purchases – all these will have implications for cash.

To bring this all together, and allow the business to understand the implications of impending financial decisions, the most effective exercise is to prepare and critically review a forecast of all cash income and expenditure. In my experience of having prepared many such forecasts the most useful have been weekly forecasts looking three months ahead, but that may not be appropriate for all businesses.

None of this will be a surprise to anyone but it remains a truth that without full focus on cash no business can be truly successful or reach its goals.

2. Do the right thing, all the time, every time

This is one that can be difficult for businesses to uphold in all circumstances but my experience has confirmed to me that the strongest, most successful, happiest businesses are those that abide by this mantra.

At the worst, not following legal obligations could prove fatal, but failure to act with any party in good faith will undermine the reputation of a business, regardless of the quality of the goods or services they may provide. The downsides of reputational loss are considerable; a business may find it difficult to win customers, achieve profitable pricing and payment terms for its outputs, secure economic supply chain prices or favourable supplier payment terms, or attract and retain high quality staff. In addition, and often overlooked, is that working in a successful business with a strong reputation is personally rewarding and much more fun.

3. There is nothing more important than your professional reputation

This is a personal one relevant to individuals and is linked to truth 2 in relation to businesses. A reputation as someone who is trustworthy, whose advice is unbiased and whose recommendations are made wholly for the good of the client rather than for personal gain is a Portfolio FD’s strongest asset.

On more than one occasion I have provided a solution to a client which brings my assignment to an early conclusion, with a cost saving to the client. From a personal perspective this approach, while not necessarily delivering me the maximum material gains possible, has provided me with a rewarding career, some good friends, a clear conscience and of course some great fun.

I can only thank all the clients and staff I have worked with, in businesses of all shapes, sizes, business sectors and ownership models over the last 10 years for helping me learn, and sometimes re-learn some very useful truths.

About the author

Kingsmere Finance Directors

Kingsmere Finance Directors

Helping businesses to grow by improving financial stability, efficiency and profitability, leaving management to focus on running and developing the business.

Helping busy business owners and managers understand finance.

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