The new model to accelerate growth, attract capital, and maximize the value of your business.

Relational Finance is the customized access to the full spectrum of finance capabilities, delivered through an engagement model designed for flexibility and which promotes alignment of interests.

Compared to traditional finance models, Relational Finance eliminates the ‘transactional’ nature of engagement focused on today’s project or imminent transactions. While these legacy models continue to serve a valuable role in the marketplace, they have rigid engagement frameworks and rely on a critical assumption – that the customer has already vetted available options and knows that particular service or capital is a fit for short- and long-term objectives.

Therein lies the problem. Finance expertise has been locked away inside the traditional models. Access is controlled, with a high price of entry. Further, sales teams and fees are typically structured in a way that creates natural conflicts which can run counter to the customer’s needs.

Relational Finance is the solution. A framework to plot the course, align the growth and capital roadmaps, structure relationships for alignment, and go forth and conquer. With multiple ways to engage, the key is exploring options, choosing the right one, and having the flexibility to pivot over time as needs change.

Life happens, and markets and individual objectives can shift in an instant. You want to partner with a team who doesn’t walk away just because today’s needs don’t fit a single fee model.

About the Book

Relational Finance, written by First Water founder Ben Lehrer, is the definitive finance companion for business leaders and owners. Within the book, we explore the value of the finance function, review the traditional finance models, introduce Relational Finance, and provide tactical ways for leaders to deploy finance capabilities and Relational Finance to drive better teams, better growth, and better deals.

“Relational Finance saved my business. I initially engaged First Water to assist in an acquisition strategy. Then, my industry entered the deepest downturn in decades. A typical transaction advisor would have been long gone, but the First Water team rolled up their sleeves on cash management and forecasting capabilities. The shift in focus was fluid, natural, and fast enough to enable my company to go on offense despite the market challenges. Without Relational Finance, we would not have emerged on the other side as strong as we did.”

Lonnie Smith, President and Co-Founder, Turnco

““Relational.” Not a word I used to associate with finance. I have built and sold multiple companies, and have navigated the gauntlet of managing rapid growth, funding it, and ultimately going through deal processes. More and more I’ve come to realize the value of the finance function in each of my ventures. Ben’s approach and the Relational Finance model is invaluable for guys like me, and I wish I had met him earlier.”

Anthony Milton, Chief Executive Officer, TiltedConcepts

“Relational Finance is an innovative way for teams to access financial planning and analysis (FP&A) capabilities and look at their businesses through a different lens, improving business management today while enabling owners to map out the game plan to successfully engage with private equity or other buyers down the road. Ben’s mission to open up these capabilities, particularly for smaller businesses in advance of a transaction, is a welcome addition to the marketplace.”

Jeff Tuder, Private Equity Partner, Ambina Partners

“Change is the only constant in business today, with data analytics and predictive capabilities top-of-mind across our CFO and CHRO Alliance membership base. Models such as Relational Finance serve a valuable role in incorporating finance capabilities into day-to-day business management and long-term strategic planning. We know from our conversations and data that top-performing leaders are embracing the importance of a strong finance function in risk management, value creation, and successful deal-making.”

Nick Araco, CEO, AchieveNext, and CEO & Founder, The CFO Alliance

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