Managing financial difficulty: tips for getting back on track

Economic pressures on businesses are on the rise and having a sustainable strategy to identify financial challenges before they become too great is essential in order to adapt and thrive amidst uncertainty.

Management resource will be increasingly stretched as it seeks to deal with these issues and the financial difficulty they can cause, while also continuing to operate the business. Faced with an economic environment unlike any other in recent years, many businesses may be experiencing financial difficulty for the first time, or perhaps for the first time in a while.

It is important for businesses to understand their finances, options and stakeholders’ needs in order to work with them to implement a successful, sustainable strategy. For company directors and business owners to have confidence (and to provide stakeholders with confidence) that the business can withstand these pressures, they will need robust management information, a well-considered strategy, and potentially specialist support from stakeholders and advisors. 

When dealing with financial difficulty, the stages a business may need to go through to start thriving again include:

  1. Take control of the crisis or difficulty and stop the position getting worse;  
  2. Talk to stakeholders and get their support;  
  3. Make operational and strategic improvements; and 
  4. Put in place a suitable capital structure for the go forward business.

The following tips may help you navigate your way through these stages, identify and perhaps mitigate financial stresses early on, and successfully carry out a turnaround.

Understand your cash position

When a business is experiencing or expected to experience financial difficulty, one of the most important and urgent concerns is understanding current and future cashflow and being able to make payments as and when they fall due. 

A reliable 13-week cashflow forecast can help identify and avoid cash issues before they arise, including whether your business may need revised payment terms from customers, suppliers, or creditors; what scope there is to flex payments; whether there is an issue with collections; and how much time there is to find a solution.

Get support early

A key to providing a business with the best chances of returning to financial health and thriving again is understanding the options available – and major stakeholders and specialist advisory firms can support with that.

Early engagement with stakeholders, such as lenders, shareholders, key suppliers, landlords, pension trustees and HMRC, can be essential for the business to fully understand the options available to it, particularly if it requires additional time, funding, or other support.  Lenders are an important stakeholder in any business and many lenders have specialist teams, experienced in working with customers in financial difficulty on a daily basis.

Depending on the situation, it may be appropriate to engage specialist advisors, such as accountants, solicitors, property experts, or insolvency practitioners. The scope of their advice may include reviewing short term cash flow projections and requirements, improving financial reporting, raising capital, managing stakeholders, financial and operational improvements, and understanding and assessing business strategy and options. Legal advice may also support with understanding the position under finance documents, tenancy agreements, articles of association, supplier agreements, and other important documents.

Keep a close eye on the economy

In such an unpredictable environment, it pays to watch economic indicators and world events and try to plan your cashflow and business strategy accordingly. 

Being able to anticipate the effect these events and trends will have on your business and on the economy as a whole will give you the opportunity to adapt early to changing economic, market, and trading environments.

Get to grips with the Ts & Cs of directorship

Finally, each director must act in accordance with their duties and be mindful of the potential liabilities that they may face in the event the business’s financial difficulties cannot be resolved and the company enters an insolvency process in the future. 

This can be a complicated area and directors may benefit from specialist legal advice to protect their own position.

Get in touch

Every situation will be different and the things you will need to think about will depend on the specific circumstances of your business. The points above are a starting point and an idea of the support that may be available, but if you’re interested in discussing this article further then please speak with your NatWest representative or contact us here.

To help you mitigate the rising costs of living and trading, we’ve created this hub of resources. We’ll keep updating it as new developments arise and solutions are available.


Written by NatWest Group Restructuring

This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of NatWest Group, as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Copyright © NatWest Group. All rights reserved.

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