Ask the Expert: CFO Services

Managing Director Fionan Dunne advises SMEs how to create and implement a sound and accomplished financial plan.

It’s often said the best way to learn something is to teach it. That’s been Fionan Dunne’s experience with the mentoring sessions he provides through the NDRC accelerator programme.

Dunne, whose ‘day job’ is Managing Director of CFO Services, a business advisory company based in Dublin 2, says he is constantly impressed by the spirit of the entrepreneurs he meets. “My role is to assist them to prepare a financial plan that underpins their strategy so they can attract external investment.”

Dunne can see where some of these firms could be ten years down the road. “In CFO Services we have seen companies grow from startups to become household names. We have helped clients with their core finance functions, raising seed and series A funding, as well as assisting promoters with their eventual exit from the business. It’s incredibly satisfying to partner with these companies – their enthusiasm is contagious.”

When not mentoring, Dunne and his team are advising SMEs and early-stage companies with strategic finance and tax strategies, as well as looking after their day-to-day financial operations. “We want our business owners and managers to focus on running their business – they know it best after all. We see ourselves very much as partners – the better our clients do, the better we do – it’s a symbiotic relationship.”

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He notes how finance functions have changed over the past 20 years. “Clients want flexibility, now they require expertise only as and when it’s needed.” Accountants and business advisors have had to move with the times. He cites cloud accounting as being a game-changer. “Smaller businesses can stay connected with their data and their advisors, and the virtual finance director or external CFO has become a real possibility for smaller companies who previously couldn’t afford that expertise.” He admits being old-fashioned in the sense that “nothing beats a face-to-face conversation, where the trusted advisor can really get under the bonnet of a business, spot any issues coming down the track, and plan for contingencies.”

What is the most common challenge for entrepreneurs?

“Probably the one I see most is entrepreneurs expecting funding to close more quickly than it actually does. I always advise promoters to double or triple the time they think it will take to raise funds because, as we all know, cash is king and without it you’re trying to run a business on an empty tank.”

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How can small firms best plan for the future?

“Only a fool would predict where the economy will be in one year, let alone five. You can’t control that. However, what you must do is plan. If you don’t have a plan for your business, you’re going to struggle. Once you have a plan – parse it, challenge it and draft in help if necessary. Then you can move forward, confident you’re headed in the right direction.”

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