Barry King joined vfdnet as an Associate FD in 2016. He met James Shand nearly a year before that, he shares his journey from the point of deciding on a portfolio finance career.
Are you at a junction in your finance career considering if a portfolio route is the right next step for you? Read Barry’s story, in his own words…
Moving from corporate
Barry explains why he was looking for something different: “I was working as a Group FD in a business owned by an unusual American Company. Although I enjoyed most of my time with the company I knew I wanted to do something different with the rest of my working life, ideally helping businesses to succeed. I knew it was time for a change, although I wasn’t sure what that change looked like, and was seeking a better work/life balance and opportunity to travel more with my wife. With several acquisitions under my belt, I knew I had lots to offer a small company where I could make a big difference.”
First encounter with vfdnet
I’d signed up to an ICAEW evening event about portfolio finance career but was returning from Dublin that day, I nearly didn’t go. I’m so glad I talked myself into making the effort. Who knows what may have happened!
James Shand was one of the speakers at the event. His talk about working as a virtual FD for small businesses sounded just what I was looking for. I made a decision to hand in my notice, which I did 3 days later and had one year’s notice to give. This gave me time to prepare and set myself up, which was useful.
The search was on
Barry said “Although the talk spurred me into action, I wanted to look around at any comparable options to vfdnet. I found the ones I researched to be impersonal, too big a brand and I didn’t like what I heard.
I had a chat with James over coffee and liked his personal approach and honesty. He was interested to hear about my experience of over 30 business acquisitions which had included some international companies.”
Why did you decide to join vfdnet, Barry?
Several reasons – it felt personal. James is genuine and friendly. vfdnet are small enough to care but big enough to provide support. I have found being part of something else gives me extra credibility. I can draw on partners and associates experience.
For me the regular mentoring had a big impact. Meeting with James once every two weeks at first, then once a month talking about all things to do with setting up my own business. As you can imagine topics covered, networking, referral partners, how to follow-up, agreements and help to stay focused on getting the right clients.
The tools that are available to us such as Exit ReadiMap have been useful to create conversations with prospective clients. They can identify gaps which I can then help address.
When you work on your own I feel it is very important to feel a part of something.
How did you start from scratch?
I had only one local business contact and so I was starting from scratch. I found that networking to seek referrers such as banks, auditors, corporate financers, lawyers was key to my strategy. It’s a time and effort commitment you can’t underestimate but find the ones that are good for you and stick to them to create genuine relationships. I found investing in 121s rather than presentations worked best for me.
How has a portfolio finance career worked for you Barry?
It was the right time for me, both in my career and also my life. I was able to start to draw on my pension, mortgage was paid off and children had finished university, so my financial responsibilities had eased.
I love to travel and enjoy being a part of small businesses and being a trusted ear to business owners I support.
What would you say to an FD considering working as a Virtual FD?
If your personal circumstance allows it, go for it! It’s enjoyable, rewarding and with the right client base it’s good fun. I enjoy helping companies and working closely with business owners. No red tape and internal politics you get in large international companies.
Why did you join vfdnet?
The support is genuine and personal. James truly cares about the associates. He wants the best for them and to support them to work independently with the credibility behind them that vfdnet provides.
The values they hold do play out. It comes across in the way James’ deals with people. He doesn’t recruit anyone into vfdnet. You need to have deal experience to be a vfdnet FD but also have the right attitude to building genuine relationships. A lot of how vfdnet operates is based on trust.
Time to change your finance career path?
If you feel like Barry did, now’s a great time to make that move you’ve been desiring and leave behind the corporate wheel and politics – make the change. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ve got to offer to business owners as their Virtual FD, or Virtual FC.
We totally appreciate this needs to be right for you (and us!) and you’ll have questions… so book a slot in James Shand’s diary for a confidential chat.
You can achieve independence and flexibility but with all the support from a respected membership group – you’re not alone! You’ll benefit from valuable mentoring to help you make the shift from employee to running your own business. Plus you’ll be a part of a collaborative network and have access to business development tools. You’ll find that being a member of vfdnet expands your opportunities as well as opens doors for your business to succeed.