Financial Strategy Development

From Annual Subsidy to Long Term Sustainability

‘Working with Andrea Paterson has enabled us to look at better ways of growing our organisation and highlighted the issues which had to be overcome. Many business managers see planning, budgeting and forecasting as a source of pain and dissatisfaction, but with the help of Andrea we have created a very robust business plan which is proving to be a great reference point as we move forward. It has helped us generate consensus within the board about direction and goals – effectively painting a picture of what we want Scotcash to look like in five years-time.’

CHALLENGE

In 2007, Glasgow City Council (“GCC”) and Glasgow Housing Association (“GHA”) founded Scotcash, a not-for-profit, social enterprise and a Community Interest Company (CIC) as a key element of the financial inclusion agenda for the City. Scotcash fills a gap in the market by providing financial products and services to low income households in and around Glasgow who are unable to access mainstream financial services, such as those available from banks and building societies. Since 2007 Scotcash has provided:

  • an ethical alternative to home credit, payday lending and rent-to-own retailing;
  • access to basic bank accounts, Credit Union savings accounts; and
  • money advice for customers.

Like many projects Scotcash was reliant on annual subsidies and the sustainability of its funding structure was of critical concern to its founding partners.

SOLUTION

In 2012, GCC and GHA jointly appointed Andrea Paterson of i.s.4 to establish ways in which Scotcash could develop its financial strategy to become independent and sustainable over the longer term. This involved:

  • Identification of the primary and secondary metrics creating and eroding financial value in Scotcash’s business. This involved a detailed review of the service delivery and funding structure for its various business units including its lending portfolio and its broader money advice service;
  • Appraisal of a range of strategic options available to Scotcash to move from an annual subsidy driven business model to a longer term, and financially independent, approach;
  • Development of a 5 year sustainability strategy (“The sustainability plan”) and 10 year financial model which, to date, continues to support Scotcash’s business planning including strategic opportunity and risk assessments.
RESULT

From a period of strategic uncertainty in 2012, Scotcash is now thriving and has experienced considerable growth in the past 3 years. It also has impressive plans for the future. In it’s report into the ‘poverty premium’, Citizens Advice Scotland describes Scotcash as “one of the most successful CDFIs currently operating in the UK” and strongly recommended that the Scotcash model be replicated across Scotland, in order to enable low-income consumers to access affordable finance products and services. This echoes the sentiment in the Carnegie Trust report also published earlier this year.