Katie: Warren, I hear that you’ve been indispensable to the team at Capital Now. I’m very excited to visit with you! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your business?
Warren: I’m a part-time CFO. I have a Bachelor’s of Commerce Degree, a CGA, and an MBA. I mainly work with 3 different types of companies: startups, companies looking to grow, and companies experiencing financial challenges.
I usually work closely with the president of the company and we look at strategic planning. And sometimes it’s financial planning, and what I mean by that is writing plans to raise money.
I also have a team that works with me that includes a corporate lawyer, an insurance person who saves my clients money, a group insurance person who saves them on benefits, an external accountant who saves them money and time, and a team of bookkeepers and accountants, about 6 right now, I believe.
With companies experiencing financial difficulties, I figure out how to reduce their costs. I find other ways of managing cash [and help them get back onto a profitable financial path].
Katie: How did you get into finance?
Warren: I got my accounting designation 30 years ago. I did various amounts of accounting with different corporations. Then I had a bank come to me and ask me to help out a client of theirs who was in trouble. And that client is still with me today! They’re doing fine and got through it. They kept me on as part-time CFO.
Katie: How did you become introduced to Capital Now?
One of the guys I worked with when I first moved back to Calgary in 2007, who is now director of TGC Capital, Steve Brown, referred me to Gerry Wawzonek and we started working together several years ago.
Katie: When working with small business owners, what should they know about business finance that they usually don’t?
Warren: They’re usually relying on a bookkeeper who’s not able to give them the information they need in a manner that they can understand. And they need that [information] to deal with their bank, external accountants, and making business decisions.
Over and over again I see that most often small business owners don’t have access to someone that can provide them that info.
I’m able to provide my client’s with that in-depth information that they are able to understand.
Katie: What surprises business owners about your company and your service?
Warren: I think that the one thing that surprises them is that I am not like your normal professional accounting person. I wear jeans and cowboy boots. I’m casual. I can relate to the small business people in Calgary. This isn’t a Toronto suit and tie thing. I haven’t had a tie on for 30 years! (laughs)
That surprises everybody and what ends up happening is that I often become friends with my clients. I’m a small company so I can come in and work a lot closer than someone from a large accounting firm.
Katie: What top 2 challenges do you believe stall Calgary business owners?
Warren: The biggest challenge Calgary business owners have is reacting to the change in the economy. The economy in Calgary is starting to get better but anyone who didn’t react is probably done and anyone who didn’t react well enough is probably still likely in trouble.
Another thing is to attempt to diversify. I have a client who was too heavy into oil and gas and if that’s all you have, it’s going to be a few tough years.
Two pieces of advice for Calgary business owners: control costs based on the local economy and diversify.
For example, one of my clients provides specialized printers for oil and gas exploration. They diversified and now they build this printer that makes the most amazing high-quality labels and one of their biggest clients is the wine industry which isn’t affected by oil and gas!
Katie: In your opinion, what is the most valuable way that Capital Now helps business owners?
Warren: They help them manage cash flow. One of the companies that I have ownership in, we have 40 employees, we have payrolls up to 200K, and the business is very cyclical. Capital Now helps us meet those payroll needs.
Katie: What are some ways besides accounts receivable financing that a business owner can access cash for payroll?
Warren: For right now, factoring through Capital Now is all I use. The other thing I’m working on is setting up some PO financing for one of my companies.
Katie: Do you have a favorite business app/software that you use frequently?
Warren: Not really. I don’t have any apps on my phone. I live and die in excel. Pretty much the only software I use all day is excel. I do business financial analysis all day every day. I probably spend 6 hours a day in excel. If I’m not in a meeting, I’m in excel.
Katie: Do you have any additional advice for Calgary business owners?
Warren: React to the economy and control costs. It has to be done fast. It cannot wait.
Katie: Anything else?
Warren: I have worked with hundreds of companies [as CFO] and I have ownership in about 8. That experience lends itself to being a good part-time CFO and I’m looking for a few more good clients.
Warren Hall, RPM Financial Consultants
Business Website: rpmfa.com
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