Speaker interview: Edward Knighton, Chief Financial Officer, YO! Sushi

Chief Financial Officer at YO! Sushi, Edward Knighton, will be speaking at The FD Surgery London on 1st May 2018. As part of the lead up to the event, we welcomed him to a speaker interview session looking at whether life as a private equity-backed FD is for you . . .

What is life really like as a private equity-backed FD?

Extremely intense! You are serving a number of different constituencies – CEO, investors, NEDs, colleagues across the business as well as managing your finance team. It is a constant juggling act, but so long as you have the trust and respect of all those different people, extremely enjoyable.

What are the key ways in which it differs to the other ownership models under which you have operated?

I have spent time in 3 different PLCs as well as PE backed companies. In the PLC world there is a whole chunk of time on the annual report and investor relations which is just not needed in the PE world. But the common link is that clear communication is needed what ever the ownership model.

What is the biggest advantage of private equity ownership for you as an FD?

You really are a pivotal figure for your PE investors – their eyes and ears to make sure the company is aligned to its exit objectives and that risks are covered off.

What is the biggest negative?!

There isn’t one. You just need to ensure you are not seen internally as the PE firm’s “spy in the camp”. Your first loyalty is to your CEO and peers on the management team. If that relationship is working well, it will be to the benefit of investors.

How would you advise FDs considering a career in private equity to go about ensuring they are working with the right company, and the right PE-backer?

I evaluate each company as an investment decision – if they were public, would I buy the shares, and do I think they have a good market position. PE backers vary as to their level of involvement so ring up other portfolio CFOs and ask them whether they like the style in question.

Book your tickets to hear Edward Knighton explain “How to make the move into private equity, interim work or a non-exec portfolio” at The FD Surgery London this May.

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