The business development company sector is a fast evolving facet of the financial marketplace. It is imperative that you stay abreast of the news, or you could fall behind. As a member of the board, and CFOs specifically, you can’t miss the latest comings and goings. If you do, you are not only disserving yourself, you are stunting the performance of your BDC as a whole.
How does one stay up on the latest news while juggling the daily ebb and flow of the company?
To best position myself and Saratoga Investment Corp., I employ key initiatives that provide me the time to catch up on current events without any work falling behind. This includes placing a significant level of investment on emerging talent, and networking on behalf of myself and the company.
If you’re finding yourself having trouble keeping up on the news, try these measures to improve your BDC acumen:
No “I” in Team
If you aren’t relying on your team, it’s high time to start. Your team is vital not only to the success of your BDC’s operations. It is vital to taking some work off your plate so you can focus on the road ahead. With a bit of time freed up, you can now focus on the market, accounting and regulatory news and determine how these developments factor into your plans.
Use your leadership to delegate some responsibilities. This is perfectly acceptable as long as you aren’t passing off work that requires a CFO’s particular insight. A good leader knows what their team can take on. Even if they aren’t sure, this can serve as a great low-risk opportunity to find out. You aren’t asking the world from them. Rather, you are asking them to take on some higher level responsibilities while you focus on the development of the brand and industry. It provides those teammates with career-building experience while you get to focus on other areas of need.
If you aren’t relying on your team, I can’t stress enough the need to do so. You need to have time to focus on the ‘bigger picture’ items.
In doing so, it leads me to my next point:
By relying on the team to accomplish some duties, you not only afford yourself the time to stay up to date on the sector; you invest in the future of your company. You send a clear message to those that support you that your BDC is invested in their professional growth. This level of investment often fosters a culture of go-getters and high achievers. With this mentality firmly in place at your BDC, you can expect to see above and beyond performances from your team.
Not only does this help distinguish rising talent, you begin to pinpoint the level of investment each associate needs to make that next step in their career. These individuals are likely to further immerse themselves in the sector as well. Now, it’s not just the CFO staying informed of the recent news. Your entire team is on board. Just in case something slips through the cracks, your support team is just as wise to industry developments. This sort of all hands on deck mentality serves on countless levels. It may take a bit of your time early on, but it will pay dividends for you in short work.
Every Quarter Counts
Quarterly earnings calls offer you the chance to see the face of the industry from both a micro and macro viewpoint. From individual BDCs to the larger macro environemtn, each call can shed new light on the shape of the sector to come. You’ll likely be running your own call, so staying up to date there should be second nature. But don’t forget to track the market and individual BDCs as well.
Leave no stone unturned when it comes to fact finding.
Meet and greet functions, conferences and roundtables can benefit you on a variety of levels. By holding your own, you not only introduce your BDC to a captive audience; you also get to show off yourself. At these events, you can field questions asked by investors, peers and the media. In doing so, you can tout the performance and potential of your BDC. Additionally, you can field questions that let you know what’s on the mind of your peers in the market.
However you approach these gatherings, you provide your BDC ample opportunities to further get its name out to key individuals in your sector. If you leave your audience with the right impression, you could even come away with good resources to help you keep up on the latest news.
The people you meet at events and other occasions can become integral outside sources of information. Instead of remaining within your BDC’s pipeline, an outside resource–think a contact at an accounting firm–can minimally engage you to get through complex issues. These people often are on the cutting edge of the market. They have key details and information that they can share with you.
Instead of sourcing all the news yourself, you now have a reliable individual or two that can provide expert insight from an outside-the-BDC mindset.
If you combine some, or ideally all, these tips you are likely to become the BDC that remains ahead of the pack. Your wealth of information will prove beneficial to your company and the investors that trust in your acumen to provide a return on their investment.
About The Author
Henri Steenkamp is currently the CFO of Saratoga Investment Corp in New York City. He specializes in BDCs with fifteen years of experience accounting and financial reporting across many industries.