Work with Turnaround Professionals to Preserve Value Work with Turnaround Professionals to Preserve Value, 
by John M. Collard, Strategic Management Partners, Inc., 
published by Lending and Risk Management News, Commercial Bankers
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Strategic Management Partners Work with Turnaround Professionals to Preserve Value, 
by John M. Collard, Strategic Management Partners, Inc., 
published by Lending and Risk Management News, Commercial Bankers
Work with Turnaround Professionals to Preserve Value, 
by John M. Collard, Strategic Management Partners, Inc., 
published by Lending and Risk Management News, Commercial Bankers
A nationally recognized turnaround management firm
specializing in interim executive leadership, asset recovery,
investing in underperforming distressed troubled companies.

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Work with Turnaround Professionals to Preserve Value, 
by John M. Collard, Strategic Management Partners, Inc., 
published by Lending and Risk Management News, Commercial Bankers
Work with Turnaround Professionals
to Preserve Value
            Text
 
Lending and Risk Management News
Work with Turnaround Professionals to Preserve Value, 
by John M. Collard, Strategic Management Partners, Inc., 
published by Lending and Risk Management News, Commercial Bankers
SECTIONS:
Leadership Styles
Contrasting Leadership Styles
Lender Liability
Finding The Right Turnaround Professional
How the Specialist Operates

PDF Version

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By John M. Collard

Collard, a certified turnaround professional, is chairman of Strategic Management Partners, Inc., Annapolis, Maryland. A past chairman of the Turnaround Management Association, Collard advises institutional and private equity investors. He has been advisor to President Clinton's National Economic Council, World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, and Boris Yeltsin's Russian Privatization Agency.

Lenders aren't in the business of closing down companies nor do they want to be. When a credit becomes financially troubled, lenders often seek an alternative to closing down the business.

A company's financial problems are often the result of mismanagement. When existing management doesn't possess the skills to deal with crisis, a turnaround specialist may be needed.

Most lending institutions send troubled credits to the "work out" department. Make no mistake, this step is usually the first in a long legal process that works the credit out of the bank. The specialist can add value by stabilizing a situation and bringing credibility; thereby making the credit more desirable to the next tier lender with an appetite for more risk.

Foreclosure is painful for lender, borrower, and other stakeholders. At the very least there will be substantial legal fees, other costs, loan loss reserves, and perhaps a loss of principal. In many cases, it is in everyone's best interest to restore the company to financial health.
 

Leadership Styles

Sections     Index

The management skills necessary to rescue a troubled company are dramatically different from those needed to manage operations and growth in a healthy company. In a healthy company, management focuses on long term objectives, coaching, and team building. With the luxury of time, the occasional mistake generally will not do lasting harm. However, in a financially distressed company, time becomes the enemy. As the company's problems compound and cash flow evaporates, it becomes critical for management to act quickly and decisively.

In a turnaround situation, management must focus on short-term survival. While a manager in a stable environment should be known among employees and shareholders for consistency in making decisions, a manager in a troubled company must be able to shift gears to deal with the daily crises that inevitably occur.

Sections     Index

Contrasting Leadership Styles
Attribute Healthy Company Turnaround Situation
Focus Objectives Survival, action, problem-solving
Decision making Deliberate Quick, decisive
Authority Delegate Direct Involvement
People Develop skills Recruit talent
Respected for: Management reputation Financial credibility
Known for: Consistency Ability to shift gears
 

Existing management often goes through a "denial" phase. They tend to blame their situation on external factors, such as the lender's refusal to advance additional funds, rather than examining the way the company is managed. In the eyes of management, the lender becomes an enemy. If a negative view of the lender's role develops, the lender may need leverage (a condition of additional financing, or threat of foreclosure) to recommend the use of an outside advisor.

Lender Liability

Sections     Index

Lenders should avoid deciding on which turnaround professional the borrower should use. Lenders can insist on the use of a turnaround specialist, perhaps as a condition of additional capital. Many lenders present the borrower with a "short list" of specialists; however, the company should be free to choose its own advisor or leader. By recommending a particular professional, the lender may expose the bank to liability.
 

Finding the Right Turnaround Professional

Sections     Index

Turnaround specialists generally are either interim managers or consultants. Interim managers will replace the CEO, take the decision-making reins, and guide the company through troubled waters, hopefully to safety. Consultants advise management; possibly the same management that got the company into trouble in the first place. Whether a consultant is effective depends on management's willingness to listen and to implement the specialist's recommendations.

The turnaround specialist must possess the skills to deal with a financially troubled company and have the ability to make the tough decisions needed during a recovery. Specialists are hired for their management ability; the ability to bring order out of chaos; the ability to marshal resources and maximize value from those diverse resources. If the company requires special expertise, then the specialist will attract that expertise. Remember, experience in dealing with crises and change may be more important than industry experience.

It is important that the turnaround professional be financially credible and honor commitments. The company, bank and other interested parties should be able to rely on the specialist to protect their interests while providing them with accurate information they need on a timely basis. The earlier trouble is detected, the more probability of turnaround success. When hiring a turnaround specialist:

    • Check the person's references.
    • Review proposals versus what can realistically be accomplished.
    • Require engagement agreements.
    • Hire an individual, not the firm; personal chemistry with the managers is critical.

How the Specialist Operates

Sections     Index

The specialist offers a new set of eyes, skills and understanding of troubled situations to independently evaluate the company's circumstances. The process will focus on several issues:

  • Is the business viable?
  • What is the purpose of the business?
  • Should it be saved? Why? Are those reasons valid?
  • Is there a core business which can be the source for the emerging business?
  • Are there sufficient cash resources to fuel the recovery?
  • Which existing managers are capable of leading parts of the company? Remember, not all companies are salvageable.

This fact-finding must occur as quickly as possible so that a realistic assessment of the current state of the company can be prepared. The specialist's first priority will be to manage cash flow, to stop the hemorrhage. Analyzing sales and profit centers, and asset utilization should indicate where the real problems, not the symptoms, are located. Next a business plan outlining and suggesting possible courses of action will be prepared. Once the course of action is chosen, implementation and monitoring can occur. The specialist should remain involved at least until the business is stabilized, and preferably until the transformation is complete.

The Turnaround Management Association, based in Chicago, can be one source for professionals. TMA has developed a Certified Turnaround Professional (CTP) program to help the selection process. TMA also offers loan officers a training forum to learn more about the benefits derived from working with turnaround specialists.

A good turnaround specialist will develop a permanent management team within the company to preserve value, instead of hiring a large team of outsiders who, when they leave, take that value with them. The specialist should work themselves out of a job to be most effective, while leaving the company with the ability to grow and prosper as a stand alone going concern.

For more information about working with turnaround professionals, visit Strategic Management Partners' Web site at:
www.StrategicMgtPartners.com     or our library at   www.StrategistLibrary.com  
 
 

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We welcome constructive inquires. More information is available if required.

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Work with Turnaround Professionals to Preserve Value, 
by John M. Collard, Strategic Management Partners, Inc., 
published by Lending and Risk Management News, Commercial Bankers


Work with Turnaround Professionals to Preserve Value, 
by John M. Collard, Strategic Management Partners, Inc., 
published by Lending and Risk Management News, Commercial Bankers   Contact Information

Index

John M. Collard, Chairman
Strategic Management Partners, Inc.
522 Horn Point Drive
Annapolis, Maryland [MD] 21403
Voice 410-263-9100 Facsimile 410-263-6094 E-Mail Strategist@aol.com

We serve as experts for comment or quote, please contact us at 410-263-9100 [Telephone]

We welcome constructive inquires, please send via E-Mail to:   Strategist. [Mailbox]

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