How can financial intermediaries – in particular accountants and financial advisers – help their clients find the funding that fits their needs?
In the recent Access to Finance webinar, experts from Grant Thornton, Oxford Innovation, Xero and Spotcap shared their top tips.
How do you know when one of your clients needs additional funding? For Ben Johnson, Partnerships Manager – Platform Business, at accounting software provider Xero, planning ahead is crucial: “Businesses need to get in the habit of cash flow forecasting and their accountants and financial advisers can help them build that business planning discipline into practice.”
However, anticipating clients’ needs months in advance isn’t always straight forward. “Accountants and financial advisers need to invest time in their clients and be proactive. Regularly meetings and catch-ups are key. Only when they have a solid understanding of the business can they start helping with decisions around financing and business planning.”
For Gregg Harding, Business Finance Specialist at Oxford Innovation, a business advisory, giving yourself and your client enough time to prepare is also crucial. “The first point of call for many businesses is their bank. On the whole, they usually respond within a few days. However, if it is a no, businesses should give themselves plenty of time to look into alternative funding options.”
Gregg adds: “Helping clients with a ‘sanity check’ and determining why the funding is necessary is where accountants and financial advisers can really make a difference. New funding might increase a business’ turnover, but is it having a considerable impact on their profit? And if the client is taking quite a risk, does it, ultimately, make business sense?”
There are other challenges financial intermediaries can help their clients overcome. Gaynor Dykes, Regional Growth Finance Manager at accounting and consultancy firm Grant Thornton, comments: “In order to achieve their financing goals, we help with introductions to lenders and investors whose products fit the client’s needs. There is nothing better than a warm introduction as it can really speed up the entire funding process.”
“We also help our clients to think in the mindset of a funder. Businesses are very passionate about what they do which is great, but sometimes the way they present their financial information isn’t adequate. By helping them to put together the right information in a clear and understandable way – that’s how we can really add value and help make their funding application a success.”
Finally, financial intermediaries should keep up to date with the different funding options available as well as industry developments overall – ongoing education is important. This could be done either by attending conferences, webinars, and trade shows, networking or reading relevant magazines.
Do you want to hear more tips from Grant Thornton, Oxford Innovation, Xero and Spotcap? Listen to the Access to Finance webinar click here.
Originally published February 1 2019 , updated February 24 2020