The Rest

You wait for ages without meeting any then two turn up at once. I had a rush of reacquaintances some time ago. I met Mike Zealley, a former colleague from KPMG with whom I had the pleasure of working very closely about 15 years ago. After a stint elsewhere he’s now a partner at KPMG doing great things leading a Public Sector practice. Not long after, I met Roberto Moretti, CEO Europe of Oxygen Finance, for the first time. His first words to me were “Mike Zealley sends his regards.” Roberto had just come from a meeting with Mike and he’d mentioned he was seeing me. But before Roberto and I got down to business, I spotted another familiar face in the Oxygen Finance offices - Mark Hoffman, formerly of lots of businesses but most notably Sybase and CommerceOne. I last met him in 2000 at a CommerceOne event in Berlin. It felt like it was a trend. Things were coming round in full circle. Bumping into old colleagues and business acquaintances was almost to be expected but then nothing. For ages I didn’t bump into any one – until last Friday when I bumped in to two at the same time.

We would all love to replicate success and when we see new and innovative ideas that disrupt the established order it's exciting to think that we can replicate it. But how do you do that? What's the secret sauce to success? We've all heard successful people say how their success was as a result of hard work. They deserve their success. They've earned it they say. But if it were true that hard work inevitably led to success, that would mean that those who are less successful work less hard. This is palpably untrue. Being in the right place at the right time, having a head start because of the country you grew up in or as a result of your parentage, possessing wealth and good health are all factors in becoming successful - and so is hard work - but the most important factor of all is good luck. Taking a success story and seeking to reverse engineer it to see how it can be replicated is like speaking to a group of lottery winners and asking them how they did it.

Critical components in your supply chain are at risk - and you may not even know it. There are numerous points of failure in today's complex supply chains and because of the difficulty that upstream suppliers have funding their business from day to day, the risk of a damaging and expensive failure is increasing. And it gets worse. Efforts to cut costs have resulted in leaner, riskier supply chains held together by a network small suppliers. If the risk of financial failure isn't mitigated it could have disastrous consequences - which is why businesses - especially in Europe - should begin to take supply chain finance more seriously.

The problem with public sector finance is they have it too easy. The challenges that face businesses in the real world don’t affect public sector. Apart from the annual scramble to spend money in order to secure next years budget, issues like cash flow management just don’t exist in the same sense that it exists in the private sector. And this is why it is so disappointing to see government bodies playing the late payment game. Why do they pay late? They don’t have a good reason to.

hmvpa_468x374Karl Meinke, professor at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm once said - "Computers allow us to shrink the world. Before we know it, we'll all be living in matchboxes". I paraphrase slightly. He won't remember that he said it.  It was it circa 1975 when he was 13. I remember it was very funny at the time but remarkably, there's a ring of reality in what he said. The world we occupy today is unthinkably different to the world that existed then and while we don't live in matchboxes in a literal sense, who would have thought that the shops we used to frequent would have shrunk to the size of a letter box?

This week we're delighted to welcome John Mardle as a guest writer. John delivers CashPerform’s working capital optimisation programme and brings a new perspective to the supply chain finance discussion. The level of trade finance required today globally outstrips what can be achieved even by syndications that pull together all the banks. The pool is just not big enough in terms of the figures needed to support global trade. Could pension funds plug the gap?