Interviews with our businesses

Five minutes with Tracy Smart, CEO of The Smart Team

March 5, 2024

Tracy Smart, CEO of The Smart Finance Director Ltd, wants to change the way start-ups and small businesses get access to finance teams. Based in the Barclays Eagle Labs at the Wood Centre for Innovation, the Smart Finance Team, with its wide range of financial skills, brings an innovative service to support the changing needs of small businesses.

We spoke to Tracy to find out more about their services and work in the innovation space.

Meeting the varying needs of a growing business

The financial support a small business requires changes as it grows. While some skills may be taken on in-house, the full range of skills and experience required for different points of growth in a business are out of reach for most. Tracy, with vast experience in business finance, saw the need for flexibility in financial services offered to growing businesses.

She says, “Our clients are often businesses at a turning point of some sort.” Businesses could be at their first stage of growth, ready to launch but needing commercial finance support and leadership. They could be established but in need of more support than their own in-house finance team has the capacity for, or at this stage, they could need support to streamline processes to free up founders’ time for their core business. They could also be at a stage ready to take on a Finance Director but do not want to risk hiring a poor fit. They might be planning an exit, where they need support to get a business standing on its own two feet, without relying on its founders, so that it can be sold as an entity in its own right. Or, they could even be wanting to do their own acquisition, and are looking for some help with financial due diligence.

“When we start working with a start-up or small business, we spend time understanding what their pain points are and what they really need, matching them appropriately with the skills in our team,” says Tracy.

The Smart Finance Team has a vast range of experience, from covering the basics, including tasks like bookkeeping, to technicalities of VAT, payroll and management accounts, to cash flow forecasting, decision support, fund raising support, grant administration, all the way to being the finance wingman to the CEO. These functions fall within two key strands of services offered – The Smart Finance Team and The Smart Finance Director – but services can be combined and tailored to each business.

Valuing flexibility

While our clients are looking for flexible solutions, Tracy established The Smart Finance Director Ltd in 2020 in response to her own need for flexible working solutions too. She wanted to create the opportunity for herself and others to have more flexibility and control over their personal time.

Being a mother of three, she had noticed how many other women needed flexibility not found in full-time corporate employment. Women wanting to start a family or needing to spend more time at home for whatever reason were often forced to dumb down their skills and experience for part-time roles, which were mostly poorly paid, often less interesting and did not reflect their skills and experience. “It isn’t just mums who are looking for flexible options around work. Many very experienced people have had enough of full-time work in a corporate environment but have incredible value to offer,” she says.

Through The Smart Team, she is creating opportunities that match skills and experience without the demands of a full-time, corporate role, and has grown from starting out on her own to a team of 10 part-time employees and consultants, with plans to grow more.

Why the Barclays Eagle Labs in Oxford?

By the end of lockdown, Tracy had had enough of working solely from home. She was particularly drawn to the Barclays Eagle Labs at the Wood Centre for Innovation because she enjoys working with innovative businesses, who are having impact in their own fields, and there are plenty of great networking opportunities with business doing inspiring work within the Centre.

Tracy has been a great support for others in our network and is always happy to give advice to growing businesses. She spoke as part of our Exit Right Series 2022 on scaling up your business for growth. She talked about impact of rapid growth, cash flow and ensuring your financial modelling is where it needs to be. For more information, see here

She also values the co-working space of the Barclays Eagle Labs to bring her own team together to collaborate, as it is important that sharing between team members allows clients to access the full range of skills within the team and provide a truly bespoke service.

And very importantly, she enjoys the beautiful aesthetics of the space and the great café food!

Find out more about the Smart Team at

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