Use Great Finance Pros To Guide Planning, Strategy

By James S. Cassel

James Cassel headshotIn my experience working with middle-market business owners, I have often observed that many of them underestimate the importance of having access to solid and timely financial information and support from great finance professionals to guide their daily decision-making and strategic planning. Having seen companies and managers suffer the consequences of this risky practice, I have confirmed that it is critical to have the right financial support and infrastructure in place.

Why is this true? For one thing, many of today’s middle-market business owners may have started out with a spouse or other family member managing the company’s books and records on a part-time basis. However, as their companies begin to grow, it is important to determine whether people with different skills, sophistication and qualifications should be hired on a part-time or full-time basis, or whether those functions should be outsourced. Additionally, they must continuously evaluate and modify those roles and the personnel fulfilling the responsibilities as their businesses continue to evolve.

Middle-market companies may utilize different kinds of financial officers, such as certified public accountants, controllers and bookkeepers. Each of these professionals possesses different skill sets and sophistication relevant to providing financial data and information as well as managing relationships with banks, lenders, and suppliers, negotiating financial terms, dealing with customers in terms of reporting systems, providing financial oversight and strategic planning, etc. Depending on your needs, you may need finance professionals with more or less expertise and knowledge.

As you grow, you will need higher-level counsel and access to more information. It may become necessary to upgrade from a bookkeeper to a controller or from a controller to a chief financial officer, or even a CPA. Some individuals can step up to effectively assume the new roles, but other times you may have to bring in more experienced professionals. Outside consultants can also supplement or fill voids.

Many business owners get into trouble or lose potential opportunities because they didn’t have access to the right financial information on a timely basis. Again, the key is to take this seriously, accurately assess the level of expertise you need and hire accordingly. Staying ahead of the curve is always best. While some investment might sometimes be required, it will seem cheap in the long run when you reap the benefits.

Financial reporting should be done on a regular basis — daily, weekly or monthly. Developing appropriate flash reports and a dashboard is important. This will enable you to know — on a real-time basis — how your business is running and position yourself to make any necessary adjustments efficiently. Today, data analytics and business intelligence are crucial. Getting a first-quarter report at the end of the second quarter is not only virtually pointless — it can seriously hurt you because it may be too late for you to act. For some companies, obtaining an audit may be appropriate. While often costlier than a compilation or review, audits are valuable because they may be required by your lenders and can be helpful when you try to sell your business. Audits also bring a certain discipline to companies.

The types of financial management systems you put in place are important, too. Do you go with QuickBooks, QuickBooks Pro, or the more robust and sophisticated Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains), or other software solutions to obtain financial information and manage payroll, inventory, sales and other needs? Depending on your line of business, a fully integrated system that brings together your financial system with your inventory and other key aspects of your business can be important.

Beyond supporting your daily business operations, having the right support from finance professionals and the right financial information in place upfront is important as you prepare for growth or a merger or acquisition. I’ve often seen business owners scrambling to come up with information at the last minute, which has put them at a disadvantage in negotiations. In a sale process, for example, not having the necessary information at the right time can negatively impact what potential buyers may be willing to pay for the business. Outside consultants like South Florida-based SCA Group can be helpful.

While it may be tempting to focus solely on running the day-to-day operations of your business, it is critical to keep in mind that your ultimate success depends on how well you manage the company’s finances. By investing the necessary time and resources from the outset, you can put your business in the best position for continued growth and success.

James Cassel is co-founder and chairman of Cassel Salpeter & Co. LLC, an investment-banking firm with headquarters in Miami that works with middle-market companies. He can be reached via email at or via LinkedIn at His website is


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Cassel Salpeter & Co. Represents Lang Group in its Sale to IG Design Group

MIAMI – August 18, 2016 Cassel Salpeter & Co., a middle-market investment banking firm providing financial advisory services, represented Lang Companies in its sale to IG Design Group plc (formerly International Greetings plc).

Lang is a design-led supplier of high-quality branded consumer indoor and outdoor home and lifestyle products. IG is one of the world’s leading designers, innovators and manufacturers of gift packaging and greetings, social expression giftware, stationery and creative play products.

“We appreciate Cassel Salpeter’s deep understanding of our company, our industry, and what it takes to get a deal done,” said Alan Patrick, former CEO of Lang. “This deal is an important strategic move that will bring significant benefit to both companies, including an enhanced ability to meet our customers’ growing needs while providing both companies synergies in management, sourcing and cross-selling.”

The Cassel Salpeter team was led by James Cassel, chairman, and Philip Cassel, vice president.

Cassel Salpeter, with its headquarters in Miami, has experience providing clients in diverse industries with a range of advisory services including: mergers and acquisitions; equity and debt capital raises; fairness and solvency opinions; valuations; and restructurings, such as 363 sales and plans of reorganization.

Operating under three brands – Lang, Wells St., and Turner Licensing – Lang’s products include design-led giftware and gift calendars, with licenses such as NBA and NFL. The business has revenue streams with a complementary range of customer channels and live trading relationships with many U.S.-based national chains and more than 3,000 specialty gift stores. Additionally, Lang has established a direct-to-consumer sales channel through its own website and catalogs with more than 150,000 direct customers.

Jeffrey D. Cunningham with Seyfarth Shaw LLP provided legal representation to IG Design Group. Hayley Smith and Corey Fox with Kirkland & Ellis LLP provided legal representation to Lang.

About Cassel Salpeter & Co.

Cassel Salpeter & Co., LLC, is an independent investment banking firm that provides advice to middle market and emerging growth companies in the U.S. and worldwide. Together, the firm’s professionals have experience providing private and public companies with a broad spectrum of investment banking and financial advisory services, including: mergers and acquisitions; equity and debt capital raises; fairness and solvency opinions; valuations; and restructurings, such as 363 sales and plans of reorganization. Co-founded by James Cassel and Scott Salpeter, the firm provides objective, unbiased, results-focused services that clients need to achieve their goals. Personally involved at every stage of all engagements, the firm’s senior partners have forged relationships and completed hundreds of transactions and assignments nationwide. The firm’s headquarters are in Miami. Member FINRA and SIPC. More information is available at