The Big Hearted FD’s

Since blogging about my mates at the FD Centre last week I’ve been thinking a little more about how important it is to keep the relationships alive, the friendships and to keep dipping into the amazing talent pool that lies there.

One way of keeping current with people is through this blog of course. People can see why I moved on from the FD Centre, how it’s going with my new job at Tear Fund and begin to see beyond ‘the corporate me’ to ‘the other side of me’.

The seeds are sown

So I hope the seeds have been sown, professionally and relationally and I hope and pray those seeds will one day grow into something amazing. A lot of the FD’s I worked with did quite a bit of Pro-bono work, plenty who aren’t Christians like me but who share a desire to use their talent to help others in their circumstances. There’ll be plenty of opportunities for people like that to partner with Tear Fund and I have to say that I can’t wait to see that starting to happen. I think they’d welcome the chance to float some ideas around doing a few hours with Tear Fund. I know they are busy people, but I also know what they are like – big hearted and hugely talented!


Fuelled by www.Tinderblogs.com


Missing my FD Centre Mates

I so miss my FD Centre team. I loved building the team and I wondered what would happen when I told them that I was going to leave. Usually you tell people you’re leaving and you’re told ‘Oh, that’s interesting, sorry you are off – bye!”

But when I told the team, the response I got really blew me away. I got so many lovely messages, lots of lovely gifts, kind text messages from people I wouldn’t have expected, some people even saying that they’d love to be doing what I was going on to do.

Those things really mean a lot. I had a fantastic leaving do where everybody came from all over the place - it was unbelievable the number of people who came to my leaving do and said such lovely things and gave me two beautiful Swartz crystal champagne glasses, which I just thought was just beautiful.

Bridges I'll never burn

I was so sad to leave them but I just know that I am in the right place now at Tear Fund. I just know it. But I have a hope that I can find a new connection with all those great people. I don’t know how yet, but I know that I want to strengthen the bridge between my new life and my old colleagues. There’s still business to be done.


Fuelled by www.Tinderblogs.com


How I came to tear Fund

As I was saying in last week's post...

“Ten minutes later I got an email from a Christian friend of mine asking if I knew of anyone who would be interested in being the Finance Director at Tear Fund.”

Something life changing

So I felt that the Lord was listening. But it was a very different salary grade, based in London, working for a charity: none of which ticked my boxes. Except one. The one that read: ‘I want to do be doing something useful – something that’s life changing for me and others'. So I thought I really can’t ignore this but I don’t really want to do it. I thought I was probably being nudged in that direction but I really wasn’t switched on to it. So I pretty much kept it to myself. I didn’t ask any of my friends their view and I didn’t ask any of my friends for prayer.

Be yourself

But then I spoke a little to a friend just before my initial interview and he came up with the wisest words I have ever heard. I’d said to him that I wasn’t suitable for it; too extrovert, too commercial, too sceptical of charities and that it didn’t suit my personality. He just said “Be yourself. Whatever you do at the interview just be true to yourself. If you are right for the role you’ll get it and they will know what they are getting. If you’re not right that’s fine.

Blown away

So I went along for an open chat the executive team and was totally blown away. It was just amazing - the most transformational half hour of my life. One of the team said to me “I want to change the face of charities and I think you’re the person to do that with me”. Wow!

I finally got the phone call one evening officially offering me the post and asking if I wanted a few days to consider it. Consider it? No – I accepted right then and there! How life can change.


Fuelled by www.Tinderblogs.com


On a Mission

Radical change

So the other day a friend asks me: ‘Are you a missionary now then?” I nearly died. But I get the point. Being part of Tear Fund is radically different to anything I have done before in the professional field. Quite a few friends and colleagues are asking me why I made such a life change and I do want people to understand why I took the leap.

Why Tear Fund?

I joined Tear Fund because they have fantastic values and I just have to be part of that vision. No I’m not a missionary but yes, I am on a mission. A mission to transform Tear Fund Finance, I.T and Craft to a point where we are best in class. I want us to be the best because I know there’s room for people to be even more fulfilled than they ever have been are and more motivated than ever before.

Long term hunger

Long term I have a hunger to see the corporate world to become more involved in Third World issues. To that end I see myself as being a link between Tear Fund and the corporate sector. I’m not sure yet how I am going to do it but that’s my mission. Watch this space.#

Next week

But before I go here’s a preview of next week’s blog about ‘How I came to Tear Fund’:

“I was working for the FD Centre for 7 years and absolutely loving it but feeling that, for some reason I was working very hard for someone else’s agenda. It came to a point where I had to decide if I wanted to become a shareholder in a purely corporate vision or share in a humanitarian vision. Then, when we were on holiday I prayed with Pete, my husband, about my career because I was just thinking that it might be time for something new. Ten minutes later I got an email from a Christian friend of mine asking if I knew of anyone who would be interested in being the Finance Director at Tear Fund. I thought you have got to be joking!”


Fuelled by www.Tinderblogs.com


Faith Versus Religion

Freedom of expression

Yes okay, I did blog on about my faith a bit over the last week or two, so I thought I’d kick off this week by assuring you that I’m not religious – at all!

Even back at the FD Centre, where I had such a great time with such great people, I was always pretty open about the fact I have a faith. So they know I’m the same old Alison, it’s just that I can express myself more openly in Tear Fund because of its own Christian ethos.

I’m not sure that everybody knows I have got a faith, I’m not frightened to hide it and I’m not ashamed of it, so I am quite happy to talk as much as I want about it. I was quite surprised when two people I had interviewed and taken on board at the FD Centre, subsequently mentioned that they also had a faith. I couldn’t understand why that hadn’t told me at the interview stage, what’s there to be ashamed of? But I appreciate that mixing work and faith can be difficult for some, especially some employers.

Am I a religious nutcase? Nutcase - Yes. Religious – No, and if you want to talk about the difference between being religious and being faithful – post me!


Fuelled by www.Tinderblogs.com


People Value

Who we are and what we do

I’m not sure I’ve worked in an organisation where ‘who you are as a person’ seems pretty much as important as ‘what you do as an employee’. But just a few hours into my first day with Tear Fund I found myself embracing that culture by explaining who I was, not just once but three times, to my three teams.

I called each team together and basically said who I am, what my style is, why I’m at Tear Fund, what my faith is and what’s important to me. So I showed them a photograph of Peter and told them I have been happily married to him for 27 years. Then I talked about my great kids before letting on that I’m from the North of England, so I tend to be a bit blunt, noisy, spend a lot of my day laughing. I even told them that I have been a Christian for 18 years, that my God is a God of love and so my philosophy also is love powered.

Tear Fund Finance Team

Then I talked about how much I want the Tear Fund Finance Team to be seen first internally as the best finance department that exists, and that then I want us to be recognised externally as the best finance department that exists in the Charity sector.

Everyone spoke a bit about who they were and we learned so much about what makes us tick as people. I even prayed at the end of it, which I had never done before. For me that’s just wonderful.


Fuelled by www.Tinderblogs.com


Tear Fund: Day One

The warmest welcome

Let me tell you about the first time I walked into Tear Fund to start work there.

The few weeks before I started at Tear Fund was a very, very relaxed period of my life, the most relaxed I’ve had in I don’t know how long. But it meant I had a bit too long to worry about starting there. You know what it’s like, starting anywhere is always a bit nerve wracking and I’m no different.

So anyway I finally walked through the door, having had my nails done, having had my hair done, feeling quite good, and I walked in through the door – a bit early inevitably and the maintenance man looked up and said “Hello Alison, I’m Andrew welcome to Tear Fund”. I thought ‘Wow, this is amazing, how come he knows who I am?’ I was blown away and felt like a million dollars, but I just smiled politely. Then he showed me to my new home where it said: ‘Alison Hopkinson, Finance Director, Tear Fund’. Fantastic.

Maintenance warriors

The Maintenance team are very important at Tear Fund as it turns out. They are the prayer warriors! He showed me up to my office and there was a bunch of flowers on the desk. My team had bought me a bunch and one of the guys was there saying welcome. So I just felt really, really important, really loved and it was great. Then a little while later I found myself making a speech - Tune in next week for that!


Fuelled by www.Tinderblogs.com


Knuckling Down at Tear Fund

Did you read this book yet? C’mon guys, keep up!

Break even

What did I take from this book? Well, I am do'er and I know that I am likely to go in to my new job and be guilty of cracking the whip to get things done. But this time I’m stepping back to get a lot of listening done over the first thirty days and then really think about what I am doing, what I am saying and how to make a really positive impact at Tear Fund.

The book talks about ‘break even’, which is the moment when you are costing the company (because you’re not adding any value), suddenly flips as you hit the point where you’re adding value to that company. Understanding the terrain, the people and the culture is the first objective. You need to find out where people’s strengths lie. Who needs encouraging, who needs promoting. Identifying who are the real assets in the organisation. Then it’s all about aligning your group and the teams you look after, with the strategy of the organisation.

Aligning people and strategy

So understand the strategy of the company then look at the people, the systems, the processes and make sure they are in-line to deliver the corporate strategy. It’s great advice and really interesting stuff. I loved reading it. What it’s made me think about doing on day one and two of my new job, is to sit down with proper pre-determined questions for each of my key team players. So I’m asking stuff like: “How is your team aligned to meet the strategy of the organisation? What’s your biggest challenge? What are your plans to meet that challenge?” And: “If you were me, what five things would you concentrate on?”

Loving it!


Ps: And here's some real food for thought

Fuelled by www.Tinderblogs.com


Big News

First 90 Days
My last blog post turned into a rave about ‘Have a Little Faith’, an amazing book I’d read on holiday. Well, just to clear the book shelves I’m having another rave this week about one more holiday book that knocked my socks off. The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins. This book came into my hands with such perfect timing as I was just weeks away from: Big News - taking up a new post as Finance Director at Tear Fund! About which more later – lots more in fact once I’ve settled in a bit.

Work out your strategy

But for now back to that brilliant, brilliant book. I took lots of business books on holiday; I took the Harvard business review books, three books on managing yourself, leadership and managing staff. But this book is all about how to really make an impact in the first 90 days of your new job. It is all about making sure you don’t get knee deep in the detail from day one, but you step back and you think about the strategy and you think about what impact you want to make. You think about what differences you want to make. You plan for what your annual objective is and then you break it down into more measurable actions.

So listen, here’s my plan. Well actually why don’t you order this book (No, I’m not on commission), read it, and then come back next week and I’ll tell you how my first day or two went at Tear Fund as I began to implement my own 90 day action plan.


Fuelled by www.Tinderblogs.com


Have a Little Faith

Happy Holidays!
I’ve just got back from a wonderful holiday with my family and some of our best friends - it’s been fantastic - I always know it’s going to be fantastic!  We all love each other, so that means our kids and their kids and the adults all gel very well. We get such a buzz when our friends get on with our kids on a different level to how we relate to them as parents. It’s like they have an adult mentor who share your values but also have the ear of your kids.

Who's mentoring your kids?
So my son gets on with this mate of ours like a house on fire. My son’s very arty and so is our friend so where we don’t understand our son, our friend knows exactly what’s going on. He’s been such a good mentor for him, really good through his whole life. We went off to some archaeological ruins and our son just salivated the whole way round and our mate was the same, whereas we are a bit like ‘we’ve done this and we’re not really into the ancient ruins or ancient culture’. But they loved it, and then having realised they had a mutual interest in it they went off and did various other arty thing’s together.

Pete, my husband, just sits and looks and didn’t read a book until two and half weeks into the holiday. But he spends his work life reading, a lot of reading, so his idea of relaxation is to just sit and stare. But I spend my time on self-improvement; I don’t know what that says about myself, but I read business books and I read strategy books, I read leadership books and stuff, management books, together with some faith books, I read some gorgeous faith books on holiday, really, really good and not necessarily Christian.

My girlfriend gave me this book ‘Have a Little Faith’ and I just have to recommend it. It’s very much about faith in action and tells the true story of how this guy gets involved with the homeless. It has a very strong message, not about religion but about love and loving, it was lovely, I absolutely loved it and found myself crying!

Get it, you’ll love it too.


Fuelled by www.Tinderblogs.com


Heroes Throw Down The Gauntlet

Shock of the new
I was chatting the other day with a business friend about Help for Heroes, a charity that’s just come from out of nowhere to becoming one of the most effective in the U.K. Years back, when I was working for Dell Computers, we came in and knocked the socks off IBM and Compaq because they’d just stuck to the ground on which they’d originally built their businesses - Main Frame Computers. Then Dell came along. We were nimble, we moved fast and we knocked the socks off them – taking the rug from under their feet in terms of the PC market.
Wake up call?
I wonder how the old established charities are reacting to the Help for Heroes model. It may be that there’s a certain amount of outdated practice in the charitable sector just like there was in IBM and Compaq. That would mean that those established charities may no longer be the best in class. I think there’s a lot to be said for having people with corporate experience coming into charities and removing any layers of dust that may have settled there. But I’m aware of the debate around whether corporate culture and charitable organisations can push and pull on a two handed saw to good effect.

Heaven on earth?
At the end of the day any organisation has to be able to tell the world what its end goal is. Charities might well be able to demonstrate what they are doing and why they are doing it, but the fact that they’re working on a seemingly never-ending task with limited funds may, understandably have caused them to lose sight of their original goal. But I was pretty taken with Tear Fund’s five year strategy when I looked through it recently. I guess any charity’s ultimate goal would, bizarrely, be to close itself down due to the fact that they’re just not needed any more – job done so to speak. Now doesn't that sound like heaven on earth.


Fuelled by Tinderblogs


Write From The Tip Of My Tongue

A year or two back I was asked to contribute to the book ‘My reason for hope’ and the author had chosen various people, all well known in their field, to contribute an article about hope. Well although I can talk for England I’m not that confident with writing creatively. So knowing that I had something to say on the subject, but not having the time to struggle through the creative process I had a brainwave and called in a favour from a copywriting friend of mine.

Effortless writing 
It was fantastic, absolutely fantastic, because he just made it so painless. He just interviewed me and before I knew there was an article which, he assured me, I had written! It made me sound fluent, intelligent, confident and it actually did capture my personality because it retained my sense of fun, my personality and my voice. It put down in words what was in my mind.

The acid test
Then recently I was asked to prepare a written statement about myself for a job interview. It was a job that I had my heart set on so, wanting to get it absolutely right, I used the same writing technique. He came along and talked with me, interviewed me I suppose, and then went away put it in writing. What came back really captured me and my thoughts in just a few lines. I was interviewed by four people and two of them actually highlighted the piece and asked me questions around it, so it obviously had an impact on them. But the key aspect was that the writing had stayed absolutely true to me, my views and my nature. So because it reflected who I am so accurately it meant that I could speak freely around it.

You too!
My copywriter has gone on to set up Tinderblogs.com which is a great ghost-writing service for corporate blogs. Their motto is ‘Turning the art of conversation into the power of communication’ and I love it. In fact I’m having a great time returning the favour in helping to launch Tinderblogs. I think he finds having input from a creative Financial Director as dramatically powerful as I’ve found having a creative copywriter on board!
Click on this logo to find out more of my blogging secrets:


Fuelled by Tinderblogs


Bad Boss Good Boss

Who influenced you and who are you influencing?

Many of us have had a nightmare boss and mine was someone who was an absolute bully. I still shudder when I think about him. He had no regard for people's private lives or personal needs whatsoever. He was just such a dreadful bully and tragically somebody actually died on his watch.

What a lesson I learned. I vowed that I would never, ever treat people in the same way.

Another way
Many years later I worked with a small SME who showed me what a company’s culture could be like. The management had a strong ethical position which they wanted to reflect throughout their business. The company, ABA Design valued each individual person so strongly that it was quite a shock to me. They recognised that each individual person was a critical part of that organisation. The consequence of having such a caring, together, team was that they benefited from having very low staff turnover. They had invested a lot of time and money into those individuals and those individuals stayed with them and gave the company their best.

It gets better 
Furthermore there’s space for companies to have a social conscience today. In fact I think it’s something that customers look for and can engage with as part of the brand value. It's something that can strongly encourage team building too. I have seen some of the organisations I work with do things like fun runs, or working for the community. People give so much to the organisations they work for and if those organisations have a social conscience, it really helps their teams to be fulfilled in a whole new dimension.

Oh, and one other thing – about that nightmare boss: A while later when I wasn’t working for him any more, I found myself having a drink with him and took the opportunity to tell him exactly what I thought of him – that felt good. Then two days later he was appointed as my boss again – that felt bad!


Fuelled by Tinderblogs


Let's Plan to Make a Loss!

Sounds crazy but the best Financial Directors make the best losses. That’s because they plan them strategically, plan them well in advance and plan them for a reason.

Profit from Loss 
There are plenty of examples of big corporations planning to make a loss as they establish themselves in a new market. But you can bet that their Finance Director has worked out in detail how much and for how long the loss making phase will endure before the tide turns and the profits come rolling in.

It's all about profit 
Good FD’s de-risk the whole exercise by putting all the ‘what if’s’ in place and by ensuring that all of the building blocks are in position. They will have provided a very clear road map against which they will chart your progress. They’ll know that when you reach X level of turnover, with Y level of loss you are bang on target - because that’s what was planned way back when, before you even set off on your journey. They’ll also have a series of levers in place to decelerate, accelerate or alter direction and ensure that profitability is reached as planned.

Find out more about de-risking with the Thames Valley FD Centre


Fuelled by Tinderblogs.com


Pay Your FD Ten Times Less!

I hear stories of Financial Directors who are always busy doing the accounts and overseeing the company payroll. That’s fine if you like delivering concrete in a Rolls Royce, but if you are running a business to make a profit it’s just plain crazy. So make sure you know what an FD is for before you buy one.

Forking out £120k for a financial director is a no-brainer for companies turning over in excess of twenty million, but given that an FD can dramatically transform small companies too (see my post on taking time out), how can they get hold of one for the money they have available?

The answer? Pay them ten times less! You'll save a stack of money and they'll make you a stack of money - I can't believe I'm writing this!

So how do you buy a Rolls Royce of a Finance Director for silly money? One whose experience will instinctively enable them to install the systems, controls and procedures that’ll transform your business? One who will grasp the bigger picture in a way that an accountant or financial controller is just not equipped to?

The answer is to engage one of the best FD’s in the country from the Thames Valley FD Centre. Pay them for just one day per month but have them on call and available as an invaluable company resource 365 days of the year. That’s only £12k per year for a brilliant FD who’ll make sure you taking the right decisions to drive your business forward in ways you never imagined possible.


Fuelled by Tinderblogs


Entrepreneurial Finance Directors

The Entrepreneur's Club is such a brilliant idea. I’d like to claim it was mine but it isn't. It came from our London FD Centre who started it in conjunction with Smith and Williamson. Then I got to hear about it and thought ‘yes this is something that I would like to do in the Thames Valley’.

I never attended any of their sessions but I liked the idea so much I copied it! I launched it a few years ago with a firm in Reading, Pitman’s solicitors. The idea behind it is an exclusive club for business owners and managers with a turnover of over one million pounds.

Like minds 
The USP of this club is that we don't allow anyone who’s going to try to sell into the club. Frequently, if you go to any business related event there's a very high percentage of people trying to sell you things. Bankers, lawyers or accountants. But our club is all about getting like minded people together, to share ideas. I made sure that we had some good interesting topics and most importantly, a lot of interaction - because entrepreneurs get bored very quickly and don't want lots of crushingly dull power point presentations! We’ve all sat through enough of those in our time haven’t we?

One of the best so far was based on Linked-In and Social Media about Eighteen months ago. There was quite a bit of confusion around social media at that stage, so we got three Gurus in to talk about Social Media and then we had some open questions. People were loving hearing that they were not in isolation in feeling that this was an unknown world.

Great entrepreneurs 
We’ve had sessions on how to sell your business, how to prepare your business for sale, how to raise Angel funds and all of them have had a huge amount of debate and interaction with the experts in the room. We make sure we have quality speakers and that they’re people that have done it themselves. Entrepreneurs like stories, so we have entrepreneurs that have sold their business's or raised funds an. We had such a great day with David Sanger from Rollover Hot Dogs who spoke about how he grew his business and then sold it. Fantastic story.

Next time we’re all set to get a room full of like minded people together and have an HSBC Economist lined up to talk about the economy. He’s brilliant economist and a really fascinating guy so I think it's going to be a bit of a crowd puller.


Fuelled by Tinderblogs.com


Time To Transform Your Business

If you read my last post on Blueberry Hill and how they found the strength to change from being risk averse in order to achieve their dreams, you’ll want to know what the secret ingredient was.

Time out
Time - that most precious commodity. Most business owners and drivers have the creative talent to take their business to the next level, but more than often they don’t have the time needed to let that creativity really breathe. To breathe like it did in the early days when great ideas built their business on the back of some hard graft. But that was then and this is now. Now all their time is spent running the business, keeping it on an even keel, fire-fighting, calling customers. Where did the creativity time slot go?

They've got the answers within themselves but they’re so wrapped up in running their business to think about anything else.

Creative thinking
Enter the commercially creative Financial Director for a few minutes. We set about facilitating ‘time outs’ where they can think creatively about their business for half a minute, half an hour or half a day. Time after time it’s fascinating to see how their old business creativity genes start kicking in and dreams start forming in front of your eyes. But then I like to make sure we act quickly and turn those half ideas into smart, solid plans for the business. From the plans come the strategies and I make sure that they’re held accountable to seeing that those strategies are executed within a set time frame. Dreams don’t get anyone anywhere – but plans do.

Now we’re talking business.


Fuelled by Tinderblogs.com


Risk Averse Is The Biggest Risk Of All

Let me tell you about a company I’m working with. For confidentiality let’s call them Blueberry Hill for this blog post. Blueberry has five Directors and make decisions on a consensual basis. They are all hitting their fifties and when I first went to see them they all had a shared ambition to exit in three to five years time. But (and this was a big but), they had no plans to grow the business in a way that would enable them to realise that shared dream. Why? Because they were risk averse and their product offerings had consequently grown stale. They thought they were swimming hard but they were just treading water.

I sat down with them, and they talked me through how they wanted to realise X million out of the business. Then I talked them through how, on their current growth path, they were not going to get anywhere near achieving their dreams. 

Expanding horizons
That got their attention. Now they were interested enough to spend some time and energy thinking creatively. Thinking about what else they could do, what they could change, how they could capture more market share and crucially how they could engineer an increase in profitability. That led to a really fascinating session where they moved radically into widening their horizon from Business to Business commerce to include the Business to Consumer sector. That was new for them!

Blueberry Hill is now well on the way to taking those guys to the place they always dreamed about. That's the difference sitting down for a chat with a creative Financial Director can make.

Fancy a chat, FD Centre style?


Fuelled by Tinderblogs.com


Are You Small (business) Minded?

There is a small business mindset that prevents the most promising companies from reaching even a fraction of their potential. I’m reminded of those fabulous Bonsai trees which live out their lives in a tiny pot. Beautifully perfect, yes, but they could be so much bigger!

Part of that mindset holds that Finance Directors are a requirement only for really big companies. But actually, any company that is looking to grow will benefit from partnering with an FD and also enjoying the reduction of risk that they bring with them to a small business.

Turn over a new leaf
I’ve just been working with a company that had a very modest half million turnover. We transformed that into five million through putting in place the systems that would help them to grow. It meant that they didn't reach that blockage which small companies often reach if they started out as a sole trader on their own. Typically many small family businesses whose owner is more than happy pulling in a 50k salary and with a pension sorted are those that get stuck. Their accountant is doing a great job monitoring their progress and ensuring they are on an even keel but the company runs aground and stops moving forward. Stops growing.

Get growing!
But if a business wants to grow; it needs to think again. It needs to think out of the pot! Because it’s at that point, where they are stuck at the one to two million turnover level that they need to say to themselves: ‘Let’s get some expert financial help on board and start moving forward again - now”.

That’s where a commercially minded part time Financial Director will come alongside them and take them through the growth steps in a smooth, planned way. Effectively re-planting them in the great outdoors where they have the room, vision and strategy to reach their full potential.

So how does a part time Financial Director do that? Stay tuned!


Fuelled by Tinderblogs


How FD's Turn Dreams Into Plans

The old misconception that a Financial Director is just an overpaid accountant is fast disappearing from the Thames Valley business world, and that’s largely due to FD’s like those at the Thames Valley FD Centre changing that misconception at grass roots level, in and amongst the local business community.

The Unique Approach 
It doesn't take long once one of our Financial Directors starts working with a business for it to experiencing the unique approach we bring. Actually there are two different types of customers. There are customers who have set up on their own having previously worked for large companies. These guys know what value an FD can bring to a business as they have seen their added value for themselves. They will take a part time FD on board at the earliest opportunity. On the other hand there’s the self-made man or woman who has never worked for a large organisation and is therefore unfamiliar with commercial finance people, or ‘bean growers’ as I like to call them. Someone like that, who has set up on their own in business and become relatively successful, doesn't realise how much a commercial FD can grow their business.

The Next Level 
The fact is that with an FD they could take themselves to the next level and become a much more successful business. In a much faster time frame.  They are able to take the carefully calculated initiatives they wouldn’t otherwise have even considered because they have all the information and with that, the confidence to take risks.

A lot of businesses get stuck in a rut and can't move beyond their current turnover and profit levels. This is often around the one or two million turnover mark but varies by business. It is the stage where to profitably grow the business; the owner needs to rely on the skills of people other than herself and needs to take decisions that may well be outside her own comfort level.

Turn Dreams Into Plans
An FD will come in and say “OK, let’s look at the whole market, let’s look at other areas you could go into, let’s look at the skills you need to take the business to that next level and let’s look at the best way of financing this growth”. You may even find yourself raising finance for the first time which can be a scary prospect but, once that’s securely in place, we can turn those dreams into plans.


Fuelled by Tinderblogs.com


An FD Spills the finance beans

Bean counters vs bean growers:
Understanding the difference can save and make your fortune.

A bean counter, or Financial Accountant looks at your company’s history and identifies what has been achieved in the past. They should give you a good analysis of where you have managed to make your money and where you have suffered losses. Bean counters focus on the number details, making sure that any figures put in front of you are 100% correct. A good bean counter can quickly spot figures that are worrying enough to signal the alarm.

Really good bean counters, those that I would like to work with, are not only on top of the numbers but call us in as soon as an alarm bell rings.

A bean grower, or Finance Director is something else entirely. The Thames Valley FD Centre is full of bean growers and they're very different creatures to bean counters. We Financial Directors are the people who look at the numbers and say “How can we use those numbers to grow your business?”  Bean growing FD’s will take the numbers and slice and dice the business so that you really understand how and where you can be getting the best bang for your buck.

We FD's analyse the numbers in different ways to identify which parts of the business are profitable and which are making a loss. We then formulate a plan to grow the business knowing that every ounce of energy is working to get the results the company is looking to achieve.

Thames Valley FD Centre bean growers will help you plan ahead, sow the seeds for the future and give your company a clear pathway into realising your business goals and financial dreams.

Come on, let’s get growing!



The Brilliant FD Development Days

I just love something which I started up this year and keeps getting better: The FD Development Day which happens every month. On the day itself we bring all the Thames Valley FD Centre FDs together to keep them up to speed with latest developments whilst earning some handy CPE points (Continued Professional Education) along the way. We get a good mix of top quality accountants, tax experts and lawyers to come in each month and a variation of other experts in fields such as insurance, pensions, marketing and sales.

We also have a slot that we all really enjoy which is when one of our own FD team talks about an area where he or she particularly excels – we all love that slot the best. So maybe an FD will talk about how he has introduced strong Key Performance Indicators into a business, how he went about identifying those KPI's and then demonstrate the reports he’s put in place and the value he’s added for his client. Another guy is a strong strategist and he had a great time talking about how he has helped a company evolve their own strategy. It gives the other FD's the confidence to go and do the same things themselves and it’s one of the ways we are continually looking to add value into those business's we serve. We don't want to stagnate as an organisation so this keeps us FD's up to date with what’s happening in the industry and brings new ideas of how we can add value for our clients.

This week it's being hosted by Shaw Gibbs of Oxford and as well as the usual tax and accounting update we're looking at how we can maximise the company value for our I.T. clients and also how businesses can benefit hugely from using a
 content provision service for their Social Media Optimisation (SMO) campaigns.

For me, a great FD Centre strong point will always be that there are over one hundred FD's across the network, so we’ll frequently get emails flying around saying “Does anybody know about this or that software issue?” and asking each other advice on all sorts of trends. So by getting to know each other, the Thames Valley FD's effectively give each client the collective brainpower of over 100 FD's nationwide!


fuelled by www.Tinderblogs.com


Meet My FD Dream Team

I absolutely adore my team – I just love them. Most of them are hand picked by me, and as I get such a large number of highly qualified people applying to join the Thames Valley Financial Director Centre I can afford to be very particular about who comes on board.

I want my team to reflect our customer base out there so I’ve got all sorts of different personalities, all sorts of different skills and different types of experience built into the team. I like to ensure we have manufacturing experience, legal experience, software and I.T. experience and at the same time it's my responsibility to decide which FD best fits each particular company we work with and in doing that I need to take into account the personality of the business drivers and the sector skills required.

I put a high premium on recruiting people with great personality. So there’s always a danger that I’ll keep recruiting people like myself: loud, extrovert FD’s who are all very go getting. But as I’ve come to see that not everybody wants a big personality as an FD, I’ve created a great mixture and depth of personalities. We have got some very serious guys, we’ve got some very studious guys and some very casual guys.

I have one to ones with each team member on a regular basis, I love listening to them and working with them to bring success within their own customer base. It's great to sit down with them, one to one, to develop and review the work plans they have in place for each of their clients. We run six to eight month plans for what we are going to do and what value we are going to add for each client and I just love working on their challenges with them.

Isn’t it good to know that your business too can benefit directly by working with the Thames Valley FD dream team?


fuelled by www.Tinderblogs.com