First Line Manager: Understanding Vested Interest

Vested interest exists. This means an individual has a special interest in protecting or promoting that which is to their own personal advantage. Or, there are groups that seek to support or control an existing system or activity from which they derive private benefit.A first line manager’s vested interest are in their functional area goals. A first line manager’s external business environment is also important. Effective first line managers must support a balance between their and others’ vested interest. A first line manager is like a fish in water; the fish contains water and is in water. There is internal business vested interests and external business vested interests. Let us consider these interests.First consider, a business’s internal interest and the manager’s role in each. There are two types of first line managers; functional line managers and general managers. I was a functional line manager as a restaurant manager, an accounting manager, and a territory sales manager, in these roles, my success was dedicated to that function. I was a general manager of hotels and a Business Office Manager; in these roles, my interest was in accomplishing all the functional goals of the organization.Functional first line mangers have to make sure their area of responsibility is accomplishing the assigned departmental goals. A functional manager’s is a success if their departmental goals are accomplished. Managers that are removed of not successful. Acceptable managers goals are within the acceptable range. Managers that consistency exceed their goals are considered for higher management. They are top performers. Here is the rub, functional managers must maintain a delicate balance between their department’s interest and other department’s vested interest.As a District Accounting Manager I approved the credit on sales contracts for appliance sales, a marketing function. If I was too selective marketing did not make quota and the salesperson salary suffered. If I was too lenient, the marketing department made above quota and the salesperson was very happy. In my accounting function was responsible for the payment of the contracts. I reported to a Division Accounting Manager who expected me to collect the money for the appliances. I received my promotions and my bonus on how effective I was in collections not in sales. This is the conundrum of a first line manager; how do you carry out line goals while not alienating other departments.Now think about this, if a first line manager wants to become a general manager, they must keep the other departments goals in perspective. Other first line managers must know, even though, you have departmental interest; you understand other departments have vested interest. You must be seen as cooperating with them to make every manager and the company successful. This is very important, and an extremely difficult balance.If you want to progress to a mid-level manager within your functional area, cooperation with other departments vested interests is important. A mid-level functional manager most times reports to a middle level general manager and higher level functional manager. Progression to a functional middle manager is difficult, most times, you have to be on the top of the department’s functional goals. In addition, you must be acceptable to the mid- level general manager. A mid-level general manager will not want a line functional manager that creates problems for other functional areas as a mid-level functional manager.Now, consider the first line manager as general manager. I was a first line business office manager and general manager, I was responsible for all the functions of the company. I had an interest in the accomplishing the goals of accounting, marketing, and operations. I had goals in each of these functional areas. I reported to a middle level general manager. I was given these positions because I was a successful first line manager. Also, I was chosen for these positions because of my expanded activities in the community and within the company. I achieved my functional goals and helped other departments make their goals; or, I would never been given these general management positions. As a general manager my energy was divided among the functional areas of the company. My success was based on my teams success in all the functional areas. I had a vested interest in all functional areas. Now, I had to deal with reporting to functional middle managers whose vested interest was in their area.Second consider, a business’s external interest and the manager’s role. A couple examples are the vested interest of Labor unions, and the community.Labor unions are an external vested interest. Unions present a unique problem for a first line manager.I remember my Dad explaining mistletoe to me. Mistletoe gets it food from the tree. If the tree dies the mistletoe plant will die. I wondered if the mistletoe knew it could kill the tree. Labor unions have a vested interest in keeping the union alive. Do they care if the business survives? I think that to a great extent a union does.As a first line and general manager, I had to contend with union concerns. This meant, I became an expert on the union contract. I realized the written comments in the contract did not always mean what they seemed to mean. This conundrum meant, I had to know the memorandum of understanding of the comments between the company and the union. Also, I made use of a company industrial relations person when there was confusion.A union employee’s interest was not always in the best interest of the company; it was with the union. Seniority is a vested interest in unions. This means that seniority was a interest of union employees. Our contract gave certain entitlements for seniority. I had to know how to manage seniority. If I was not careful, union employees would use seniority entitlements to their advantage. For example, union employees that reported to me wanted all new vehicle to go to the senior employee. This entitlement was not in the contract and was not in the interest of the company. I refused to allow the senior employee to get the new vehicle. Why is knowledge of the contract contents important to a manager? If you are not careful, you will set a precedent in your department that will be used against the company in negotiations or arbitrations.First line managers must understand community interest. First line managers must at times place these community interest ahead of company and personal interests. This is very important today because of social media. A manager must always be aware of risk management and ethics in their decisions. Some decisions may seem correct for your department or company; but, will not for the interest of the community. Your decision could become a risk management issue for your company.Consider, General Motors, because it did not consider the interest of the community when it did not recall the cars because of the starter problem in their cars. This decision had a tremendous negative impact on the image of General Motors with the public.I will not continue with other examples of invested interest first line managers must consider.The point is, a first line manager must be sensitive to other’s vested interest; then, manage their vested interest accordingly.

S&P 500 Rallies As U.S. Dollar Pulls Back Towards Weekly Lows

Key Insights
The strong pullback in the U.S. dollar provided significant support to stocks.
Treasury yields have pulled back after touching new highs, which served as an additional positive catalyst for S&P 500.
A move above 3730 will push S&P 500 towards the resistance level at 3760.
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Pfizer Rallies After Announcing A Huge Price Hike For Its COVID-19 Vaccines
S&P 500 is currently trying to settle above 3730 as traders’ appetite for risk is growing. The U.S. dollar has recently gained strong downside momentum as the BoJ intervened to stop the rally in USD/JPY. Weaker U.S. dollar is bullish for stocks as it increases profits of multinational companies and makes U.S. equities cheaper for foreign investors.

The leading oil services company Schlumberger is up by 9% after beating analyst estimates on both earnings and revenue. Schlumberger’s peers Baker Hughes and Halliburton have also enjoyed strong support today.

Vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna gained strong upside momentum after Pfizer announced that it will raise the price of its coronavirus vaccine to $110 – $130 per shot.

Biggest losers today include Verizon and Twitter. Verizon is down by 5% despite beating analyst estimates on both earnings and revenue. Subscriber numbers missed estimates, and traders pushed the stock to multi-year lows.

Twitter stock moved towards the $50 level as the U.S. may conduct a security review of Musk’s purchase of the company.

From a big picture point of view, today’s rebound is broad, and most market segments are moving higher. Treasury yields have started to move lower after testing new highs, providing additional support to S&P 500. It looks that some traders are ready to bet that Fed will be less hawkish than previously expected.

S&P 500 Tests Resistance At 3730

S&P 500 has recently managed to get above the 20 EMA and is trying to settle above the resistance at 3730. RSI is in the moderate territory, and there is plenty of room to gain additional upside momentum in case the right catalysts emerge.

If S&P 500 manages to settle above 3730, it will head towards the next resistance level at 3760. A successful test of this level will push S&P 500 towards the next resistance at October highs at 3805. The 50 EMA is located in the nearby, so S&P 500 will likely face strong resistance above the 3800 level.

On the support side, the previous resistance at 3700 will likely serve as the first support level for S&P 500. In case S&P 500 declines below this level, it will move towards the next support level at 3675. A move below 3675 will push S&P 500 towards the support at 3640.

Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?