19 May 2003: Menzies Corporate Restructuring (MCR), a firm that specialises in business recovery and turnaround services for the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) sector, is warning owners and managers of all SMEs to keep a tighter rein on the company finances – and when the alarm bells start ringing to heed them well.
The message comes in light of an analysis of the cases that MCR has been involved in over the past six months which revealed that, of those cases that enter into insolvency, a high proportion involved some degree of financial fraud – typically involving false invoicing.
Last week, the trusted manager of a small but highly successful company was caught cheating by his girlfriend – however, not on her, but his boss. Fabricating invoices for a company he had set up in name only, and passing it off as a bona fide supplier, the eventual aim was to siphon off funds- to the point of breaking his boss’s back –and then disappearing into the night. This story, taking place on Britain’s much loved ‘Coronation Street’ is set to grip the attention of thousands of avid soap watchers and make fraud a real talking point.
However, this story is not restricted to soap land - with art often imitating life, Andrew Stoneman, partner, Menzies Corporate Restructuring, comments, “From our own recent experience, this would seem to reflect the state of the SME nation right now. The combination of the economic climate as well as hikes in insurance premiums and NI contributions are helping to create a ‘desperate times, desperate measures’ ethos pervading so much of the SME sector. Directors are feeling the strain.”
He continues, “Sadly, it means that many SMEs cease trading, having been almost eaten away from the inside out, even though often the fraud took place in the misguided belief that it would somehow help the company out of a tight spot.”
Menzies Corporate Restructuring is urging owners/managers to be extra vigilant and know exactly who they’re doing business with. Andrew Stoneman continues, “Nobody wants to believe that a trusted member of staff, perhaps someone to whom they have allocated almost total control of the company purse strings, could betray them so badly. But it does happen. Owners/managers need to remind themselves of the warning signs that could suggest a form of invoice fraud is taking place and act accordingly.”
These warning signs, says Stoneman, may be anything as seemingly innocuous as a supplier in question never returning calls to lack of management accounts. Others include: small stock levels, previous examples of insolvency or director disqualification, high staff turnover and low morale, autocratic or domineering management styles, and general operational inefficiencies.
Stoneman concludes, “By thinking rationally and paying closer attention at a higher level, owners/managers will be able to more rapidly identify any anomalies and then act early. That way, there may be a fighting chance that the company can be saved - with some expert guidance and a serious rethink. All too often, we have been finding ourselves called in by a company’s creditors when the damage has already been done….but a healthy dose of cynicism could certainly seem, in these circumstances, to go a long way.”
About Menzies Corporate Restructuring (MCR)
MCR is the corporate restructuring and turnaround division of Menzies Chartered Accountants. It was formed in April 2001 to offer turnaround, restructuring and insolvency services of outstanding quality to banks, lenders, business owners and individuals in the mid-sized / SME market sectors. It aims to provide the most practicable ways to resolve issues affecting business performance.
The firm’s three founding partners offer an impressive 40 years combined experience in this niche sector and practice and ethos of high-level involvement to ensure that each assignment capitalises upon the expertise and knowledge of the team.
Already, MCR is enjoying significant business success across a range of sectors and is increasingly being asked to restructure businesses and find turnaround solutions to help companies avoid formal insolvency. Specialist sectors include nursing and residential care homes, hotels, leisure, the internet, e-commerce, automotive, telecommunications, manufacturing and construction.
MCR is based in central London and has access to wider accounting and auditing services from the Menzies Group.
For further media information please contact:
Adrienne Routledge, PR consultant, tel 0208 249 6555, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Stoneman, Partner, Menzies Corporate Restructuring, Tel: 020 7291 9750, email: email@example.com.
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