Portfolio finance professional  Fiona talks to us about how flexible working is great for business and also for her.

What is your background?

I am a ACMA (2005) (Chartered Management Accountant) qualified Finance Manager/SME Financial Controller. Prior to 2013 I worked as a Finance Manager/Management Accountant across a range of industries from Financial services, to Event/Media production, Facilities Management, PR/Professional services and Publishing.  After having children in 2014 and 2016, I have set myself as a self-employed Accountant and have had a range of clients in the last 2-3 years where I have helped with Management accounts, Budget/Strategic plan preparation, Cash flow forecasting, Process improvement, Finance department turnaround, and improved MI production.

How did you come to require flexibility in your work? 

I have 2 small preschool children.  I wanted to work still but needed the flexibility to fit around childcare and did not want to work fulltime.  Portfolio work offers me this opportunity whilst still keeping my experience up to date.

What are you currently doing?

I currently help The Imaging Centre with accountancy support.  I support the Management team with the monthly financials (P&L, Balance Sheet, cash flow forecast).  I help them to make financially based decisions.  I drive their Budget/Strategic plan process.  I also help with process improvements.  I attend meetings with the Senior Management team and their Business Mentor.

How does that work for you and the company?

It works well for me in that I work occasional days during the month.  The company do not require a full-time resource at my level so it helps that I able to advise them on a contractual and part time basis.  I believe that in the last 2.5 years since I have helped them and have added value to their growing and successful business.

What benefits do you think flexible working offers your clients, and could offer others?

This kind of accountancy support is an additional cost but the benefits will outweigh any cost.  Lots of SMEs do not require or cannot afford a full-time resource so portfolio work works perfectly.  They can help to produce regular Management accounts.  They can analyse profitability to work out which customers/products are profitable or not where they need to focus operationally.  They can focus on working capital management and identity cash opportunities and/or threats. Budgetary & cost control is an area often neglected by SMEs and is crucial if a business wants to try to manage its expenditure.

Cost benefit analysis and return on investment for new business proposals is fundamental for negotiating terms of engagement.  A contract review with customers and suppliers can be carried out to identify strengths and weaknesses and look regularly for the best deal possible.  They can assess future P&L forecast and cash flow forecast therefore helping a business to be better equipped at mitigating risk and planning more effectively for the long-term future.

How do you see the future of flexible working in the finance sector?

Flexible working in the finance sector will become much more acceptable in the coming years.  Technology change will drive this (i.e. cloud accounting systems, online banking and online reporting systems).  Businesses will need to become more innovative and therefore adapt to change and competition that much more quickly.  They will have to make financially based decisions that much more quickly so flexible working will help to satisfy this need.  Technology should facilitate businesses to communicate more flexibly e.g. Skype, Webex and should help businesses have access to a highly skilled workforce who do not necessarily operate the standard 9 to 5 hour business day.

A world of increasing uncertainty and complexity requires better decision-making to drive better business.  Informed decision making lies at the heart of sound leadership and will give any organisation competitive advantage.  Finance is at the heart of this.

If you think you or any other business you know could benefit from the skills that Fiona offers please get in touch we would love to introduce you. Andrea@Ten2Two.org

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