Advisory Services

Financial Access is about mobilising management resources, specific know-how, and access to financing for our clients. Our advisory services follow logically from these missions, and can include such mandates as:

  • Due diligence exercises and organisational reviews
  • Strategy development or validation
  • Operational performance enhancement projects (commercial or operational)
  • Providing interim managers or implementation teams
  • Raising debt or equity financing
  • Finding strategic partners or investors.

We have an extensive track record in finding practical and value-adding solutions fitted to the needs of our clients in emerging and developing markets. Our approach is based on a unique combination of operational advice and training focused on delivering positive and measurable impact We seek to deliver tangible, lasting results and our success is measured by the results of our clients.

The success of our approach lies in the combination of our advisory, teaching and coaching capabilities with in-depth and broad knowledge of banking and finance. Our professionals all have extensive and hands-on banking experience in emerging and developing markets and a deep understanding of the complex challenges faced by financial institutions in change.

Agriculture Finance

Financial Access provides expert advice and develops and delivers tailored solutions to improve access to finance in agricultural supply chains.

Agrifinance Advisory and Support

  • Development of agricultural finance strategy and organization;
  • Analysis of markets and agricultural value chains (e.g. insight in producer organizations);
  • Development of specialized financial products and services;
  • Hiring, training and coaching of financial institution staff and managers;
  • Development and roll-out of risk mitigation strategies (credit risk management, guarantees and insurances)
  • A diagnostic tool to determine the offer for agricultural credit: so that a Financial Institution can position itself by developing sound strategic planning for rural areas
  • A methodology for analysing the potential of a given supply chain: to penetrate the market in a structured and profitable way
  • An operational guide for human resource planning: to ensure matching of resources and needs for specialists dedicated to the agricultural sector
  • Specific training programmes for agricultural financing that provide capacity building for Financial Institutions
  • Financial services adapted to the various needs of the agricultural customers
  • Product manuals, for example Warehouse financing, to obtain a better price for crops harvested, and Investment credits for productive investments that improve the scope for profitability and sustainability in operations
  • Financing structures: knowledge of individual agricultural credits as well as funding mechanisms for Financial Institutions

 

Smallholder Finance Solutions

Financial Access partners with financial institutions, NGOs and supply chain actors  to develop customised smallholder finance schemes and to provide technical support to improve their internal credit decision processes, enhance (credit) risk management and lower operating costs. 

A particular area of expertise of Financial Access is the development and implementation of innovative and environmentally and socially responsible smallholder finance solutions. With the use of advanced financial modeling, diagnostics and credit scoring technology,  we have developed a tested methodology to collect, process and analyse large numbers of data to determine the creditworthiness of smallholder farmers at individual, farm and group level. This will enable us to develop tailored  loan portfolios of bankable farmers which meet the specific risk criteria of banks and investors and which will result in higher volumes of smallholder loans at affordable terms.

Due Diligence & Diagnostics

FA works closely with investors and lenders in the financial sector (and selected non-banking businesses) on a transactional basis, supporting due diligence, diagnostic, benchmarking or investment identification requirements. The Partners and Principals of the firm have particular experience in the issues associated with established financial services targets as well as greenfield projects or restructuring situations and understand from first-hand experience the perspective of investors in the financial sector.  In the aftermath of the Asian, Russian and global financial crises of recent years, large-scale assignments have been carried out in Europe, Asia and Africa.

We are bankers, not consultants or accountants.  The firm has its origins in the banking sector as a subsidiary of ING Bank, and the Partners, managers and specialist advisers employed by Financial Access have in general long experience in major international financial institutions such as ING, ABN-AMRO, Citibank, RBS, Barclays, Rabobank, Fortis, Lloyds TSB, or others of similar calibre.  With management backgrounds in banks ourselves, we are exceptionally sensitive to the concerns that advice provided must be practical, implementation-orientated, and based on appropriate best practice. Successful investments in financial services, or specific performance enhancement initiatives in banks, require heavy initial due diligence, diagnostics and benchmarking efforts. As a banking-based firm, Financial Access regards this sort of operational diagnostic and planning work as our core competence.  For more than 20 years, we have been evaluating and benchmarking the performance of financial institutions on behalf of owners, management, investors, financiers, partners and correspondents.

Making use of a proprietary ‘Performance Scan‘ methodology developed and constantly adapted since the firm’s inception, detailed online and questionnaire-based data are collected and blended with interview materials, as well as inputs from other specialist advisers, in order to achieve the level of granular insight required by our clients. Typically, issues associated with investment or transformation initiatives revolve around the sorts of considerations set out below. In all of these areas (and others besides), FA has acted for institutional clients or management.

  • Strategy, the planning process and management quality
  • Change management capacity, including internal communications
  • Internal Audit – its role, staffing and independence
  • Organisational logic
  • The Finance function and its role in the organisation
  • Operations and IT, with special reference to IT investments and energy efficiency
  • Human Resources and Organisation, with special reference to employee engagement, skills assessment, performance monitoring, compensation, and recruitment and training considerations.
  • Treasury, ALM and Market Risk Management
  • Credit risk and NPL management framework
  • Risk-related information and monitoring systems
  • Operational and E&S risk framework.
  • Commercial management framework
  • Client focus: segmentation and CRM systems
  • Product and channel management
  • Sales and marketing functions, including brand promotion.

These value drivers feed directly into an assessment of what the most reasonable expectations should be for the performance of the bank:

  • Review of the detailed data and assumptions governing management’s existing model
  • Construction of an alternative model adjusted for multiple scenarios.

Due diligence work and benchmarking against best practice also generally leads, either on a bank-wide basis or in a limited area of the bank’s operations, to detailed planning for change and performance enhancement, as well as the implementation of these plans. FA has extensive experience with the development, staffing, implementation and monitoring of such work plans and change road maps.

Microfinance

MFI Advisory Services

The microfinance sector has experienced tremendous growth globally over the last few years. As Microfinance Institutions (“MFIs”) continue to expand they will often need to further professionalise their business practices, diversify their funding base, create economies of scale and to improve their operational efficiency, risk management processes, HR functions and commercial effectiveness. Financial Access has the capacity and expertise to assist MFIs with the development and implementation of plans and programs to create positive change and position MFIs for sustainable growth.

Financial Access can act on behalf of the management, owners or investors of MFI’s to develop and execute MFI growth strategies, transformation programs and restructuring plans, as well as major initiatives in areas such as Risk Management, Relationship Management, Treasury, Marketing & Sales, Operations, IT, Human Resources and Finance. Our role typically combines the delivery of high-quality advisory support with the secondment of expert project or interim managers, who are entirely focused on timely and successful implementation. All of our professionals have extensive and relevant experience in the respective areas of focus and are generally available at short notice.

SME Banking

Building a high quality SME portfolio consisting of lending products and other services catering to the financial needs of small and medium-sized enterprises is a challenge. Banks need high volumes in this area to make it pay.To be successful in this area banks need to create focus and scale. Important steps will have to be taken, which will alter the way the bank is run, positioned in the market and perceived by their (prospective) clients. These steps typically include:

      • Formulation of rigorous client selection and segmentation criteria
      • Development of intelligent, low-cost distribution models
      • Product standardisation and bundling of lending products with payments, savings, cash managment, insurance, factoring and other financial services
      • Improvement of operational efficiency, using IT and enhanced operating processes to lower transaction costs
      • Development of sector know-how in key SME subsectors
      • Redesign credit processes and procedures; tailored credit scoring and risk management systems will reduce credit approval turnaround times and improve non-performing loan (NPL) rates
      • Development of training programs (SME lending, product knowledge, sales management, risk management)
      • Financial Access has an extensive operational experience and a proven track record in helping our clients to build or enhance their SME banking business.

 

Risk Management

Aside from management quality overall, no individual discipline has been shown to be more critical to a financial institution’s sustainability as its risk management framework and organisation. FA, together with its network of specialised partners in this field, provides a one-stop, across-the-board service in this area, covering enterprise, credit, market, liquidity and operational risk management expertise. FA can partner with financial institutions in the following areas:

 

  • benchmarking, diagnostics and gap analyses
  • enhancing (risk) organisational design
  • policy and procedures development
  • manuals
  • training at all levels
  • risk reporting and analysis
  • models and scenario- or stress-testing
  • procurement and implementation of risk systems
  • risk and control self-assessment processes
  • non-performing loan (NPL) management.

Sustainable Finance

Helping emerging markets financial institutions to reflect sustainable development trends to the benefit of their business. Financial Access supports emerging markets financial institutions with a range of advisory services aimed at better understanding environmental & social risks, and at developing the opportunities arising from trends towards local sustainable development.

Our services in sustainable finance comprise:

Environmental & Social Risk Management (ESRM)
                  • Supporting the assessment of the environmental & social dimensions as a deepening of existing approaches to risk management.
                  • Designing appropriate risk management policies and procedures.
                  • Supplying tools to support identification of issues, undertake due diligence, support decision making, and underpin monitoring of commitments.
Renewable energy & energy efficiency finance (RE&EE):
            • Supporting banks to develop their capabilities in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
            • Evaluating technical capacity, analyzing strengths and presence, and reviewing current business to identify where RE & EE deals may be easily achievable.
            • Providing specialised review and ranking services, deal vetting, risk evaluation, hands-on transaction support, and training.
Sustainable value chain finance (SVCF):
            • Supporting banks to reach into new market locations and segments that are based around value chains.
            • Identifying market opportunities, assisting in structuring financial mechanisms and developing product strategy
            • Strengthening delivery channels for providing and managing finance to smallholder farmers and co-operatives.

Trade Finance

Marketing and expanding the trade and commodity finance product range is a neglected corporate banking opportunity for many institutions. FA can assist in various ways:

  • improving the quality of the existing products, financing structures and techniques
  • upgrading risk management procedures and processes
  • developing broader funding sources and correspondent networks
  • training, either on the job, off-site, or by temporary secondment to international banks

FA has been a preferred provider of trade finance training capability to DFIs such as the IFC for many years, with a track record spanning a huge diversity of developing markets.

Training

The major constraint faced by bank managers and owners in emerging markets today is not about strategy, governance, technology or products.The most pressing issue is the shortage of well-qualified and suitably trained staff and middle management. In conjunction with delivery of our advisory services Financial Access is able to deliver and facilitate training programs for our clients to improve the skills, knowledge and behaviour of staff in key areas, including:

  • Risk management
  • MSME Lending
  • Marketing & Sales
  • Products & Services
  • Trade Finance
  • Asset & Liability Management

Our training programs are tailored to the needs of our clients. To ensure maximum impact, training can be provided in a variety of formats, which include:

  • In-house training and workshops
  • On-the-job training and twinning
  • Train-the-trainer programmes
  • E-learning programmes & online survey tools
  • Classroom training sessions
  • Personal coaching and counselling

For large-scale training programs and the establishment of in-house training academies Financial Access will work together with reputed international training firms, including NIBE SVV, the leading training firm for the banking and insurance sectors in The Netherlands.

All of our clients have direct access to our proprietary knowledge base (documents, manuals, tools, business cases and best practices, drawn from our track record of over 20 years). It is a key and unique element in our knowledge sharing offering.

FA is also able to assist in measuring and designing responses to employee engagement. Via dedicated partners, FA can organise for a banking organisation to benchmark itself against local and international peers in this area. Using online staff survey and analysis tools, highly useful insights can be developed into an organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, and requirements for development.