Helping CPAs avoid bad news phone calls
by Michael Dinkins, President and CEO, Dinkins Financial
Nothing is worse than realizing your calculations are right and it’s going to be bad news for your small business client. After you do some additional analysis and understand the root cause, you know the situation could have been avoided if your client had kept you informed. The conversation will be unpleasant and time-consuming – an experience both of you would prefer to avoid.
How can a fellow financial advisor who assists companies with their financing needs help you circumvent the need for phone calls like that? I have answers with benefits for everyone involved.
Three Root Causes of the Problem
As a CPA, you will likely agree the underlying reasons small businesses falter are driven by the following three factors – the things you struggle with most. I strongly identify because the same issues cause me a great deal of pain as a lending advisor.
The client doesn’t provide you with complete data.
Getting complete, straightforward data from a client is necessary for you to set realistic expectations and anticipate healthy outcomes. This helps to avoid the second root cause.
Your efficiency is compromised by incomplete data.
Having to stop and go, waiting on missing information, leads to the third and most harmful root cause.
Surprises result in bad news phone calls.
Business owners may deem immaterial something that happened in the business, so they don’t inform you. Surprises impact financial planning, accounting and taxes. They also impair a business owner’s ability to get funding and maintain compliance with existing loan covenants.
We Share Symbiotic Goals for Small Businesses
Like your business, Dinkins Financial is built on solid beliefs in governance, risks and compliance, a foundation that best serves any business. You and I work to assist our clients’ fiscal health and longevity. When they need access to capital for the next phase of their growth plans, they need advisors who will lead them in a safe and fiscally responsible direction.
At Dinkins Financial, we take a transformative approach to business lending that gets loans approved and simultaneously complements the role and effort of the CPA. We do it by addressing the root causes of failure and creating synergies that benefit everyone.
How We Transform Business Lending
Our lending process is sustainable and highly increases the likelihood of business owners getting the funding they seek. Our strategy facilitates interactions between borrowers and their CPAs by making financial planning and accountancy transparent, informative, efficient and effective.
We ensure all information needed for a loan is gathered, thoroughly vetted and organized. Business owners are fully prepared for the approach and submission to a lender, and prepared to answer lender questions. We employ this sustainable method for each client to not only encourage loan approval, but to also have the right data in place for a borrower’s financial planning, compliance with loan covenants and future funding.
Loan approval process – a holistic approach
We start early enough so that if we experience a rejection, we have time to approach another lender and succeed in meeting a borrower’s financing goals. We also take the position that we are presenting an opportunity for a lender to make money, something business owners struggle to do when going it alone. As lending specialists, we are not begging or hoping someone will lend money. It’s business, not personal. Preparation builds confidence, and our mindset and confidence make a difference.
We work with a borrower’s CPA to assemble information a lender will request and double-check that everything is in place before submitting it. We ask borrowers to provide potential lenders with three years of historical financials and three years of projections, including information about capital expenditures.
It is during this process when we help borrowers (and consequently CPAs) eliminate surprises and bad news phone calls. We work with borrowers to ensure their reporting capabilities will both meet a lender’s needs and capture data necessary to prepare taxes. We are fluent in QuickBooks and use it for our own business. Further, our understanding of a borrower’s projections allows us to advise them of factors to discuss in advance with tax preparers to ensure they are being as tax-efficient as possible.
After going through the Dinkins Financial process, borrowers have a finite understanding and appreciation of how to leverage their CPAs so that they continue to have the information they need to fund their businesses, grow and create wealth.
We only approach lenders that gravitate toward a borrower’s size, industry and location. These parameters do not change in the near term, and it is essential to align borrowers with suitable lenders. If the two are not a good match, the odds of getting a loan approved are slim. Many business owners learn this the hard way.
While we work with a network of more than 40 banks, specialty finance companies and investors, we present a borrower’s opportunity to a limited few – only two or maybe three if they are all strong candidates. It is very time-consuming for business owners to answer lender questions, plus, we are sharing their confidential information, so limiting who we talk to is a priority.
We help business owners understand who they are talking to at a lending institution. Every lender stakeholder has a different role, responsibility and agenda in trying to get a deal done. Since lenders are also human, likely overworked and have up-and-down days like the rest of us, we encourage business owners to be considerate and professional during the vetting process, and aim to build good relationships. If a lender ends up funding a company, that lender will be the business owner’s first go-to when future funding is needed. Equally important, if something goes wrong, a good relationship will be in place to help resolve it.
Most important, once a business is funded, we help the owner implement the business plan upon which the lender placed a lot of weight in deciding to approve the loan. It is better to not borrow than increase debt and not perform. This is one of the biggest mistakes a borrower can make. Business collateral is at risk, so there should be a sense of urgency to begin execution. We help the owner go back to the financial model we put together and develop a W3 Plan (Who, What, When). Without a plan, a business owner can only hope things happen. There’s too much at stake for this.
We encourage owners to sustain good reporting processes with their CPAs, and monitor whether they are on track to deliver the upside needed to support their loans and create wealth for their companies, growth plans, employees and families.
As you can see, our mutual interests on behalf of small businesses are aligned, and how Dinkins Financial’s holistic approach to lending can benefit you and your clients. I encourage you to explore our website and get in touch with us when you have clients in need of financing.
Who we serve
We specialize in serving the needs of companies that have been in business for at least two years, have revenues in excess of $1 million, and are looking for growth capital. We do not handle bankruptcies or companies that are in workout situations with their banks.
Our financing solutions generally provide funding in the range of $1 million to $50 million in the following areas:
Small Business Administration (SBA) Financing
Working Capital for Business Growth
Commercial Real Estate Financing
Equipment Leasing and Financing
Asset-Based Lending (ABL)
Accounts Receivable Factoring
Supply Chain Solutions Financing
Export Credit Insurance
We’re ready to help when your clients needing fast, secure access to capital.
About Michael Dinkins
Michael Dinkins is president and chief executive officer of Dinkins Financial. His 40+ years in financial services include a distinguished 17-year career with General Electric (NYSE:GE) and GE Capital, and CFO roles with five different publicly traded and privately held companies. He qualifies as a financial expert under New York Stock Exchange requirements. Michael serves on the board of directors of Community Health Systems (NYSE:CHS) and the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Michigan State University and subsequently earned his CPA and CMA certifications. He also graduated with honors from GE’s renowned Financial Management Program.