Cashflow modelling is the key for financial planners who are looking to build strong relationships with corporate financiers

31 July 2018

Cashflow modelling – Jon Rolfe, Head of Product Advisory Board at i4C asks are you making the most of it?


Jon puts forward a practical case in arguing that cashflow modelling is the key for financial planners who are looking to build strong relationships with corporate financiers

As a financial planner, my client bank is predominantly made up of current business owners or private clients who I have previously helped through a business sale. These entrepreneurial clients tend to be hard-nosed, difficult to please and can smell hogwash a mile off.

The main reason I have success with this type of client is due to using cashflow modelling software. This allows me to communicate clearly with them about why they’re doing what they’re doing. More importantly, it allows us to demonstrate very clearly what they are missing out on by continuing to do what they’re doing.

The best source of introductions of this type of client is via referrals which have come from corporate financiers whose role it is to help facilitate the sale of businesses. The significant reason for this is that we help them bring their deal flow forward and this is achieved through cashflow modelling.  If your client doesn’t actually need to work for longer to achieve their goals, then why hold out for a sale that might go away or miss out on a life doing what they really want to do?

What’s the “number”?

In reality, business valuations are often subjective and clients tend to pick their ‘magic number’ (how much they want from the business sale to live the life they want to) from thin air. But this is like looking down a telescope the wrong way; the outcome is far from certain and whilst it could work, it’s at what cost?

We have designed our cashflow software to help put some science behind the ‘magic number’ analysis. I suggest that there are three primary benefits for financial planners and clients, that using cashflow modelling brings to a business sale case as I outline below.

The benefits of using cashflow modelling

  1. It allows us to show our client the opportunity cost of waiting in order to hopefully achieve “full” value and comparing this to selling their business for a more achievable sum sooner. When you sit down with a business owner and start talking to them about what they want to do post-sale, they start thinking about things like that chalet in Verbier, that round the world trip they have always wanted to do or that buffer they need to ‘go it again’. At this point, the business owner has, in part at least, subconsciously checked out as the excitement of what lies ahead starts to kick in. This makes them much more susceptible to an earlier business sale than originally planned.
  2. The ‘magic number’ we agree upon is rarely higher than the number the client previously had in their head.  This means that they should be able to sell sooner than originally planned and with a level of comfort they previously could have only dreamed of.  To help bring this to life, let me use an example. In a recent case, an extremely unhappy and stressed client who was originally offered a sum for their business engaged with us following a substantial fall in the offer. We were able to demonstrate that this new amount was still more than enough to meet their life goals and a deal, which was otherwise at risk, proceeded.  A stressed client was now a happy client.
  3. When a business sale involves two or more parties, we will look to run magic number analysis separately and concurrently.  If the numbers are sufficiently close, we will then look to work together to see if there is a compromise that can be agreed.  If the numbers are sufficiently far apart, we can work to create a two (or more) step sale process so all clients can meet their objectives. This clarity in planning helps to avoid messy in-fighting between business owners at what should be one of the happiest points in their lives.  This also means that we have the opportunity to plan with all parties involved in the sale.

Timely advice maximises opportunities for clients 

The added benefit to the client is that we can then look to ensure that any potential IHT planning is considered before the business sale.  All too often clients will only seek financial planning advice once the business sale has gone through and, by this point, some of the potential planning opportunities have been closed. The earlier we can get involved in the process the better.

This process is not only life changing for the client and beneficial for the corporate financiers and other professional services but is brilliant as a source of top-end clients who have strong buy-in to our approach as they have experienced first-hand the benefit that sound financial planning via cashflow modelling can bring.

This article written by Sue Whitbread and was featured in IFA Magazine