SME Archive

Top Executive File: Definition of a NED

What is the definition of a Non-Executive Director  (“NED”)?

Michael Grade once famously said: “NEDs are like bidets – not sure what they are there for, but they add a bit of class!”. This is far from the truth. Lord Walker in a recent speech said: “The ability of NEDs to stand up to executive management is more important than the qualifications those directors hold.” While there has been a whole lot of discussion about the need for NEDs with relevant experience, that knowledge is little more than useless if it is not accompanied by a willingness to challenge the executives. With regard to the more practical aspects of being a NED of a SME company, Frank Lewis gives us in this top executive file his DEFINITION OF A GOOD NED. Continue reading

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Executive Consultants File: Consulting on Demand

Consulting on Demand: Towards a new form of consulting?

Written by Olivier Pujol, Director iCEO Consultants on Demand™

“The  future  of  SMEs  goes  through  their  ability  to  develop  innovation  and international business. This requires from top managers in these companies to be more aggressive and take more risks than ever: new offers, new  products, new subsidiaries or acquisitions in foreign countries, new partners… Taking risks is inherent in top management role, but it can be comfortable at times  to  get  professional  advice.  Companies  may  use  consulting  services. Another solution is to rely on experienced managers, who can provide advice at a minimal cost…” Continue reading

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Top Executive File: Executive Investors

Executive Investors: An Untapped Potential of Funding and Growth for Companies

Billions of euros of equity funding for SMEs
At a time when politicians are busy supporting SMEs with numerous initiatives and financial backing to support creation, innovation and international development projects, and when conditions offered by banks are getting even more restrictive, in every country, individual investors are an untapped potential support for SMEs. Their cumulative direct investment capacity totals billions of euros, while the indirect leverage potential is even greater… Continue reading

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Interim Management: Crisis

Interim Management: Is the Crisis Over?

Listening to other managers, I still get the impression that times are tough, in particular with regards to securing ongoing interim management assignments. Nevertheless, looking to the press, the crisis in the interim management sectors seems to fade out with turnover figures and assignment requests slowly but steadily climbing up the ladder again. Working for CEO Worldwide and thus offering interim management, I decided to look a little closer at the situation and picked one of the 169 countries we cover worldwide: Germany.
Just a few general figures ahead: Today approximately 5000 interim managers are registered in Germany, with a turnover of 750-800 Million. In terms of development, this means turnover got tenfold within 8 years (80 Million in 2003). Experts believe that the number of interim managers will double within the next 5 years to 10.000. But, compared to other markets this is still rather small. For example Netherlands has only a fifth of the German population and counts 20.000 interim manager already today.
During an interview, the CEO of the German Interim Management Association (DDIM), Jens Christophers, claimed that in the first two months of this year many interim manager received over 50% of the assignment request they had in the entire last year, but, he adds, it is still very hard to get the final contracts signed…
What I found even more interesting is the shift of the assignment types that has been brought by the crisis. In 2008, the most important fields of Interim Management were restructuring/change management and process optimization. According to Mr. Christophers, today, the focus is growth. Another assignment type that is very much in demand, in particular with SMEs, is financial controlling and reporting. This is due to the restrictive behavior of the banks since the crisis – not only they are reluctant to give an urgently needed credit to many SMEs, but they also request extensive reporting and detailed information, often of the sort that a typical German SME will not be able to handle with its existing staff. Historically, many SMEs in Germany employ Finance Directors that have “grown with the company”, starting as accountant some 20 years ago. This makes them ideally suited for the everyday demands of the business they work in, but at the same time they don’t have the necessary skills and knowledge to cope with the new demands of the bankers. Thus it is not surprising, that some interim management providers in Germany claim that the demand for interim CFOs doubled or even tripled since the beginning of the year. The irony of this is that many of these ailing companies only got into a difficult situation because of the worldwide financial crisis, which was caused by the financial institutions in the first place … Continue reading

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