Monday, 9 December 2013

Press Releases - an exercise in hope rather than expectation!

It is always exciting when a plan comes together and no more so, than when the press pick-up on a press release, which you despatched in hope, rather than expectation!

Talking to the press is always fraught with apprehension. There is a natural tendency for the interviewee to focus on his or her message without paying sufficient attention to the needs and aspirations of the interviewer, whereas the interviewer will always have their own objectives which may not always align with the aspirations of the interviewee.

Where the interview is strategically important, it would always be good advice to seek support from a Public Relations professional and your Finance Director from FD eXcel will be able to introduce you to a PR consultancy, from our vast network of associates. Where the interview is less strategic, the interviewee should approach the event like they would an important presentation, where the more that you have prepared, the more successful the event. The most successful presentations address the interests of the audience whilst allowing the presenter to make the points that he/she is endeavouring to project.

In November, 2013 we launched FD eXcel and engaged the services of Hayley, from Nao Communications, a boutique PR agency with a background in both new and established businesses. Not only did Hayley draft the press release, she targeted a bespoke list of financial journalists as the first step in a campaign designed to raise our profile and over a period of time attract some editorial interest. Much to our surprise the press release was picked up by the publication FT Adviser which is a Financial Times publication aimed at the IFA marketplace.

Daniel Liberto, the reporter from FT Adviser, was interested in what we were doing and was keen to understand how our services fitted into the IFA market. He completed the interview, checked a couple of details with Hayley and we held our breath as to whether it would be published.

If you would like to read the article it can be accessed at and we will see where our next press release goes in January, when we announce a new high profile recruit to FD eXcel.

This was written by Bob Drew, a Commercial FD with over 30 years’ experience in business and first published at

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Institute of Chartered Accountants Economic Forecast available for download

Adding to the several other economic good new stories, the latest economic forecast from the Institute of Chartered Accountants is available for download at

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Major high street bank “killing off small businesses to seize assets for its own property empire" - The Sunday Times 24/11/2013

An incredible story in The Sunday Times today! As stated by the newspaper, a major high street bank “is killing off small businesses to seize assets for its own property empire, according to evidence referred to financial watchdogs by Vince Cable, the business secretary”. Not only is this the sort of story that newspapers should be publishing, it contains a warning to the whole business community.

On first read, the stories are truly shocking. They appear to relate to the difficult period 2007 through 2010 and most of the stories relate to falling property valuations, where the property was used as security for a substantial loan. Nothing surprising there, you might think!

The surprise is in the suggested collusion between the bank’s “special measures” team and the banks own property division. The paper suggests that in at least one example, the property division identified a development for which it had an “appetite” and two days later, the developer’s loan facility was withdrawn. In another example, there are allegations that the property division where given access to “sealed bids”, so that it could purchase properties out of administration at the lowest price. Other allegations relate to interest rate swaps and inferences about changed property valuations.

Although the allegations of mal practise are shocking, the underlying stories are not. Banks are businesses that owe a greater duty of care to their shareholders than any duty they might owe to their clients. Even though your bank manager might well be your friend, the bank never is. It’s relationships with its clients are covered by the contractual terms of the agreements that the bank and the client “agreed”.  Yet how many small businesses actually read those “agreements”, let alone understand the terms. If they understood the terms, why did so many businesses agree to interest rate swaps and if the banks truly felt a duty of care to their customers, why did they introduce such complex products for the SME market?

In employment law, the law recognises that the relationship between employer and employee is unequal and that the level of inequality can allow even reputable employers to take advantage of the relationship. Best practise therefore has always been for the employer to ensure that the employee takes independent legal advice before entering into an agreement where the employee forgoes rights, even when the agreement is clearly to the employee’s advantage. 

But for some strange reason, the same logic doesn’t seem to apply to the unequal relationship between a bank and its SME client. Banks are businesses, nothing more, and nobody should enter into complex business contracts without fully understanding the implications of that agreement, and if the client doesn’t have the expertise, they should take advice from an appropriate person, who might well be their part time consulting finance director!

This was written by Bob Drew, a Commercial FD with over 30 years’ experience in business. Bob has always enjoyed close relationships with the relationship teams at "his bank" but has never forgotten the difference between the bank and the bank manager!
(Also published at

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Press Release 5th November 2013

FD eXcel is open for business!
Announcing new UK FD Consulting Group

FD eXcel is a new group of consulting, part time Finance Directors who have joined forces to support their members to deliver “best in class” services to the SME market. 

The part time FD concept is already well established in the UK, with a number of companies providing the services of highly experienced commercial FD's at a fraction of the cost of a full time FD.  However, FD eXcel is different!

Unlike many other groups, FD eXcel is owned by its members; reinvesting all of its income back into the business. The main advantage for its clients is that the reduced costs of employing a part time FD are then not inflated by management fees, which in many cases can be up to 40%. A less obvious yet crucial advantage is because FD eXcel is not seeking to be a profit centre, as a group it is highly selective in its recruitment criteria. The client gets the best person for the job, not just any person for the job.  FD eXcel will never be the largest group of part time FD's, but does aspire to be the most effective.

FD eXcel’s Services include:

×                      Business Health Checks
×                      Cashflow Management
×                      Compliance
×                      Long Term & Exit Planning
×                      Mentoring & Coaching
×                      Reporting and KPI’s
×                      SAGE Training & Reselling
×                      Trusted Business Partner

 Whether it's one day a week or three days a month, the FD eXcel team is available to help with those difficult issues which are normally dealt with by full time FDs, but at a fraction of the cost.

FD eXcel is interested in talking to prospective clients today who are interested in driving their business forward by maximising the value of their investment in a part time FD.  The team are also looking forward to speaking to other experienced FD's who empathise with the FD eXcel model.

Contact the FD eXcel team at or 01962 601100.  We look forward to working with you.