A musical number?

Published on July 7, 2015


I wonder if the Euro’s crises are the result of the ECB not paying sufficient attention to the numbers presented by Greece, and, most often overlooked, the assumptions behind the numbers?

Often people look at numbers as the answer, absolute measures about which there can be no argument. But those of us who work with numbers all day see them in a different light, rather like notes on a stave of music. Their capacity to delight, when in the right order and to cause disharmony when they are misaligned keeps us working at them until they are properly assembled, and the [insert name of growing business] concerto conducted by [founder] and featuring FD Solutions on piano, is ready to be presented to the world.

To do this requires the same empathy for the numbers and the business as a good composer has with his music – an understanding of what makes up the numbers, what drives the business – and then representing it in a way that sounds right to the listener, of say the investment pitch or lending request. Like making music, it’s not as easy as it looks.

A lot of the secret is in detailed understanding of the components -how margins are generated, how productivity is achieved rather than how it’s measured. Like chords, experience and empathy tell you what the correct fit is. It wasn’t until we had not just created such a model but had also tested it by actually managing the cashflow of an on-line retailer whose previous FD had failed to find the finance it needed, that this client’s crisis was ended.

So if you know of someone whose financial forecasts haven’t been applauded, which may even have been commented on as being as reliable as Greece’s application for Euro membership, then perhaps it’s time to ask us to compose our recognisable concerto?

Just one word of caution – it won’t sound anything like Zorba the Greek.