Debate and Discussion at the First Finance Directors' Dinner
This week we launched our first biannual Finance Director Dinner in Leeds - an intimate, round-table event during which Finance Directors of small and medium sized businesses from around the Yorkshire region were able to share challenges and discuss opportunities, solutions and best practice. Attendees from Armstrong Watson and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Fund were on hand to give updates and offer their own unique insight.
The subject matter centred round the current economic challenges and the measures taken to mitigate their impact. Key takeaways included:
- Finance Directors are striking a more cautious note in respect of the economy than Managing Directors; measures included holding off investment in major projects, managing cash and supplier payments, reviewing overheads and business processes for efficiencies.
- ‘Big data’ can be a hugely powerful tool that can drive business performance at a number of levels, however, to be effective, top-down organisational buy-in is critical, as is ensuring that the integrity of the data is maintained.
- Recruitment is still a challenge, as the lack of quality candidates - added to the number of blue-chip employers - is driving up the cost of newly qualifieds.
- There appears to be cash available; banks are willing to lend and Private Equity is keen to invest. However, this is also driving up business multiples, causing businesses to quote unrealistic valuations. Access to grant support, while available, could still be made much clearer.
- Finance Directors would welcome support from their advisory network in terms of assistance with identifying and accessing grants. There is a general frustration with government’s willingness to support and invest in the North, particularly with respect to transport links.
We will be looking at many of these challenges in further detail in forthcoming blogs, however if you would like to learn more about any of the topics discussed and/or attend a future Yorkshire Finance Director Dinner, please get in touch.