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Meet The Former Wall Street Analyst Helping Entrepreneurs Become Financially Savvy

Marguerite Pressley Davis is an entrepreneur who embodies the ethos that a successful entrepreneur is a passionate entrepreneur.

Davis is certainly successful. She’s a former Goldman Sachs analyst who oversaw a multibillion-dollar portfolio of investments. Now a serial entrepreneur, she is the powerhouse behind Finance Savvy CEO, a unique ed-tech fin-tech platform that is helping transform the lives of small business owners around the world.

As you’d expect of a former Wall Street analyst, Davis is passionate about numbers and finance. Indeed, it’s been said that her zeal for balance sheets and income statements leaves a lasting impression on most people she works with. However, it’s probably more accurate to say that where her passion really lies is not in numbers for their own sake. Davis’ focus is honed on how better understanding them can help business owners fully realize their entrepreneurial potential.

Recent figures show that 50% of small businesses fail after five years in business. After 10 years, the failure rate is as high as 70%.

“What we’re really talking about is how do you use core business financial knowledge from a strategic standpoint? How do you make capital or cash decisions that really enable you to reach a mature phase of business.”

It’s stark statistics like these that prompted the creation of Finance Savvy CEO. According to Davis, there is one key reason behind high business failure rates. She believes that too many entrepreneurs do not count business financial literacy among their strongest skill sets.

Finance Savvy CEO users can access a range of resources such as an online community, guides, podcasts, workbooks, and video tutorials. The focus is on teaching business financial literacy with what Davis calls ‘a CEO mindset’.

Accountants Do Not Make Business Decisions

“When it comes to business finances there are a lot of things you can get bogged down with,” says Davis. “Accounting, bookkeeping, debits and credits, they can all be very time-consuming. And it’s easy to say ‘Oh I’ll just hire an accountant’. But that’s the beginning of the end. Accountants don’t make business decisions. And that’s not what we’re focused on when we speak about business financial literacy with a CEO mindset.

“What we’re really talking about is how do you use core business financial knowledge from a strategic standpoint? How do you make capital or cash decisions that really enable you to reach a mature phase of business?

“For example, a lot of business owners are making these decisions about marketing or new markets to go into. But too many ignore the number one question you should be asking yourself as a CEO which is ‘Is it profitable?’

“We focus on how your understanding of business finance impacts your business strategy rather than get lost in the nitty-gritty of day-to-day financial decisions. There are so many resources for personal finance. But there’s nothing out there that provides on-demand access to knowledge about financial literacy for small business owners.”

The central Finance Savvy CEO course is the six-week My Profit Playbook. It is a comprehensive business financial planning implementation program. Users are taught about financial goal setting and developing spending plans for their businesses. They are also given revenue plans, cash flow maps, and access to a key performance indicator dashboard. There are also what Davis calls ‘money manuals’. These are monthly deep-dives on a strategic financial area that a business owner needs to focus on.

Passionate About Working With Female Entrepreneurs

Finance Savvy CEO is open to all business owners. But Davis is especially passionate about encouraging Black women entrepreneurs to be a part of the platform.

A study published earlier this year by the Harvard Business Review shows that as many as 17% of Black women in the U.S. are starting or running new businesses. That’s compared to just 10% of white women, and 15% of white men. However only 3% of Black women are running mature businesses – enterprises that are still operational after five years. Davis believes that these figures reflect the ways in which social and historical factors have negatively shaped women’s financial literacy.

“If we look at societal norms governing the way our homes are structured, especially in the US, what happens is you have dads having conversations about money with their sons,” she says. “Historically women were left out of those conversations.

“We focus on how your understanding of business finance impacts your business strategy rather than get lost in the nitty-gritty of day-to-day financial decisions. There are so many resources for personal finance. But there’s nothing out there that provides on-demand access to knowledge about financial literacy for small business owners.”

“Again, if you look at the finance industry as a whole,  the jobs which require financial literacy have not been filled by women. And even when you think about the rate at which banks give loans out to females, too often there is not a conversation around ‘Yes you can get the loan’.”

These societal norms have created what Davis calls a money mindset problem for female entrepreneurs.

“One of the things that often comes up when I’m working with female entrepreneurs is ‘I feel bad charging x amount of dollars. What if people can’t afford it?’

“But that’s a core money mindset block.  I ask ‘What makes you feel that it’s too much? Let’s flip it around.

“How do you create value as a business so it will be worth whatever you’re charging for your product or service? That’s a whole different way of thinking about money. The question should be ‘what impact can I make with the more money I have in my business?’

“With more money, you can create new jobs. More jobs mean that someone can create a different life for their family. It’s about challenging money fears so you can reshape them into abundance.”

Landed Job As A Wall Street Analyst

Davis was fortunate enough to have an upbringing that helped her shape a positive mindset around money. As she grew up in North Carolina, her father worked hard to make sure she understood the value of numbers.

“I was blessed to always be part of the money conversation with my dad” she recalls. “He was a business owner for 40 years before he retired. I learned to count at the age of four by doing my dad’s books.

“Every Friday, we’d call it Finance Friday, he’d take me into work and have me count the money to close out at the end of the week. It’s also how I learned about money.

“I loved it and I did it for him throughout high school and college. I never realized until recently looking back how big a role that played in my desire to work in finance.”

After graduating from college Davis left North Carolina for Wall Street. She landed a job with wealth management firm Merrill Lynch. A job with top investment bank Goldman Sachs followed. While working there she developed a strong reputation in commercial real estate and private equity finance. But the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-08 proved a turning point.

“Our $2 billion book of business went down to under a billion in less than a year” she recalls. “I saw entire trading floors being wiped out. I saw people who had spent their whole careers at Goldman got laid off.

“While I survived the layoffs it was my very first realization that I wanted to be working with the CEOs and the CFOs before things go downhill.”

Soon after the crash, Davis left Goldman Sachs to study for an MBA at New York University. This provided another important turning point.

“While studying, I had this incredible opportunity to work at the Clinton Foundation on their economic opportunity initiative. One of the foundation’s key ideas was that you can stimulate the economy in underserved areas by increasing the profitability of small businesses.

“I was paired with a small business in an underserved area. I was able to generate a 33 percent increase in profitability in the very first month I worked with them.

Purpose To Help Small Business Owners

“That experience connected with my why. It was about using my experience in finance to help the small business owner. If you earn $1 million dollars for a large corporation, they want a million more.

“But for a small business owner $1 million can mean a different life for them and their families. I knew there were people in my backyard that needed my help more than these corporate Fortune 500 companies.”

Top management consulting jobs followed her MBA. But she couldn’t resist the call of once again helping small business owners become profitable. However, she also decided to set up her own business with a view to putting into practice everything she learned in the corporate world.

In 2015 she founded her first venture, wedding retail tech company Tulle La La. She bootstrapped the enterprise into a global brand serving five continents with 11 different product offerings within a few years of launching. And as the founding partner of business strategy and financial coaching agency Marguerite Pressley Davis Inc, she has helped thousands of business owners transform their companies into profitable enterprises. Her passion to help even more, especially Black female business owners, is as strong as ever following the launch of Finance Savvy CEO.

“I’m definitely optimistic about the fact that there are more debates about the need for venture capital to fund diverse-led startups” she says. “What I’m concerned about though is that we still have a big gap between the companies who are able to get from starting up in year one to being considered a mature business, still trading profitably after five years.

“We have to ensure that diverse founders are given the support to be able to make the right capital decisions once they have the money. Funding them is just a part of it.

“How do we create a narrative that’s not just about them getting the funding? Let’s tell the story about the fact that they are in business five years later and are increasingly profitable.”

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Vic Motune
Vic Motune
Vic Motune is a veteran news editor and seasoned multimedia journalist now writing for UrbanGeekz
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