Finance team recruitment

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With over ten years experience in senior finance positions, I’ve recruited quite a few finance team members, and helped others do the same. I’ve learned what works for me when it comes to finance team recruitment.

Most of this is applicable to any candidate search process but I’ve added a few thoughts throughout about what might be different about recruiting finance team members.

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Process Improvement: the weekly shop

Business process improvement - post-it notes and mapping exercises.
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Sometimes external circumstances force process improvement upon you.

Businesses across the world are changing rapidly to deal with the enormity of the changes that the plague has thrust upon us. Customer interactions and supply chains have transformed overnight.

Meanwhile, in the domestic sphere, I have achieved a reduction in a routine task from approx 3 hours a week to just half an hour. The task?


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How to be a good Excel user

What do you need to learn to be “good at Excel”? What Excel training should be mandatory for finance teams?

I really rate the ICAEW’s spreadsheet competency framework as a tool to use to diagnose where you and your team are at and where you should be. It breaks down users into four types – Basic, General, Creator and Developer – and allocates the skills that each level should have.

This is much more helpful to me than users saying that they are “intermediate” or “advanced” users. When I recruit for roles I often use the framework in the job description.

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Mental health in the workplace – the ACE approach

Managing mental health
Photo by Tayla Jeffs on Unsplash

Managing mental health in the workplace is really important to me. I want to be happy, and I want my teams and people I work with to be happy too. I once worked for a mental health charity and picked up a few tools for thinking about and managing wellbeing and mental health.

This post explains the ACE approach – Achieve, Connect, Enjoy. In one sentence – we need to achieve a balance of these things in our daily lives.

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A smooth year end accounts process

Plan ahead to make your year end run smoothly
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If you’re managing a finance team, at some point you (or someone in the team) will need to prepare some kind of year end accounts, also known as statutory accounts. I’ve been doing this for many years now and in this post I will share my observations about what makes for a smooth year end process.

The short version of this; planning in advance will always reap dividends. As you will see, most of my advice concerns things you can and should be doing well in advance of year end.

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Do you really need a new finance system?

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I’ve experienced a number of finance system implementations in my career. My early experiences have made me very reluctant to implement new systems, not because I don’t enjoy it, but because I know they are often very disruptive and don’t solve the underlying issues. Or they save finance time, but at the expense of budget holder time (this has been my experience of most purchase order systems in large organisations).

I’ve also had experiences of lots of accounting systems, and none have ever blown me away. Some are worse than others, definitely, but I have long since given up on the idea that there is the perfect package out there, particularly when you consider that every organisation’s needs are different.

This isn’t to say you should just make do with the status quo. It’s about making sure that you are replacing the system for good reasons.

So over time, I’ve evolved a bit of a checklist to think about whether or not a new system is necessary.

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Why you need Power Query even if you don’t use Big Data

Power query is a fantastic tool for everyone who uses Excel regularly

I’m ashamed to admit I’m one of those who initially thought of Power Query as being a toy for hardcore financial modelling, or manipulating enormous data sets within multinational companies.

This may be because these are often the sort of examples provided. It’s very easy as a busy finance professional in a small or medium finance team to assume based on this that there are better things to spend your time on.

It was only after my second attempt at learning Power Query that I truly grasped how revolutionary it could be for all finance professionals and teams.  If you use Excel to do anything at all, the chances are Power Query will allow you to do it better. In this article I’ve set out four areas where knowledge of a bit of Power Query could transform your professional life.

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