Steven Sussman & James Godrich: company accounts – how to look at the numbers
Before hearing James Godrich on the key things to look for in a company’s accounts, BCKR members heard from Steven Sussman. The second part of the talk is not summarised here, although the slides accompanying these notes provide a good reminder for members of what they heard and will hopefully provide a useful teach-in for those unable to join us.
Steven is CEO of our regular host, JM Finn and members heard his thoughts on what to consider when looking at NED positions and what the regulated firms he’s been involved with have sought from their own NEDs. Steven provided a colourful and salutary reminder of the associated risks.
What to consider when applying for NED roles:
- Regulated firms – as a NED you are at risk so you need to consider whether it’s worth it – your assets and reputation may be called to account
- Time v money – it is not just about showing up to 4 board meetings per year. Much more is required. There are often committee meetings as well (and non-executives will generally be expected to sit on at least one other committee) and to do a good job, a lot of preparation is required (including reading 50-100 pages ahead of each meeting for even the smallest of committees – much more for the main board meetings). You need to really consider the time commitment
- Money v risk – is the risk you’re taking worth the money you will get paid?
- Learning – Do you know the industry? You need to get up to speed with the firm and the industry so there might be a lot to learn up front.
- The financial state of firm – remember to look at this area of a firm when you consider a NED role e.g. how cash rich are they / are they profitable / is it a credible business?
As a NED you are responsible to the shareholders so you need to be able to be objective.
Boards don’t look specifically for bankers or lawyers, they want someone who can add value and credibility, ask the right questions, probe. Be professional. Bring contacts. Do you have financial skills as an extra resource that can be useful. Can you introduce clients. Can you give advice/ insight, add a fresh objective view.
And with that, he passed the baton to James Godrich. James’ Powerpoint slides can be found here.