I am a Chartered Accountant so ought to know about finance. But like so many professionals, once I qualified I really did think that I knew it all. It was only when I tried to secure borrowing for my first venture, and then later when I helped negotiate a £165m debt facility I realised how little I actually knew.
Finance IS easy: it’s just that some people try to make it sound really difficult. I guess because it makes them feel important. So, I love explaining to people how it actually all works.
- Raising money: What I have now learned is that great ideas usually (but not always) get finance. Some other, not such good ideas can. So why? I have learned that it is often about the persuasive element of the ‘pitch’ and just making sure that all the boxes are ‘ticked’. Financiers cannot make money unless they lend or invest. All they want to do is make sure that it doesn’t get lost whilst they are holding the position.
- Finance for non finance professionals. In other words, making sense of it all. I will explain: balance sheet, profit and loss, cashflow, IRR and others in simple language and great examples ties to day to day life.
- Debt of equity and what’s the difference. In other words getting the right finance. I will explain how it all works: what is IRR, LIBOR, Caps and floors, and all the other jargon.
- Large amounts. I’ve been in the tiny team which raised nearly £300m of equity and some £6billion of debt from over 200 different banks in different syndicates. I will explain the role of the Angel investor, structured finance, the various advisers and how best to use them for maximum outcome (yours, not theirs!)
- Public Sector: PFI and others. I’ve been around, as they say, and know a great deal from all parties. I can train and advise on most – if not all – aspects. But the basic thing to remember is that it’s relatively easy to get procurement ‘right’. The really difficult thing to achieve is to procure the right thing. I try to make sure I visit the 400 or so school and other projects I have had a hand in to see, long after the euphoria of achieving financial close, how they are actually working. The results are startling.