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We deliver the best recruitment news and advice to the Tax, Legal, Finance, HR and Marketing sectors, including market updates, CV tips, interview advice, and exclusive interviews.

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How Has Brexit Affected the Corporate Finance Space?

In June 2016, 51.9% of the UK public voted to leave the European Union and since then, speculation regarding the impact of Brexit on the UK economy has been rife. This has been the case particularly for the financial services sector, mainly because of the sector’s impact on the British economy and its international influence. There is no question that uncertainty of any kind affects business activity - it is more difficult to plan, make investment decisions, or forecast further than a few months ahead. However, post-Brexit there should not be too much of an impact on the Corporate Finance industry as a whole, nor on the jobs market. The nature of the market may change in regards to primary operating areas - we may see a move away from M&A due to the uncertainty of the economy and a move towards distressed companies, restructuring, debt and capital advisory. But, we should not expect the structure of private M&A transactions to change significantly as a result of Brexit. The latest Baker Tilly International research report, Global Dealmakers: Cross-border M&A Outlook 2019, upholds this. 54% of the 150 participating global dealmakers said M&A activity will increase through the rest of 2019 and beyond, with 71% intending to focus on cross-border investments as they seek out new markets. Southeast Asia and North America are among the top investment destinations, although large numbers of respondents intend to remain focused on their home markets which is positive for the UK M&A space. While geopolitical events and economic uncertainty in the UK surrounding Brexit is creating concern, dealmakers are remaining positive on their ability to get deals done and many anticipate an uptick to the ongoing rush of M&A transactions. The prospect of Britain’s exit from the European Union - especially if it takes place without a negotiated deal - will inevitably have some negative repercussions that affect not just the UK economy but economic stability around the world. At the same time, the concentration of Corporate Finance is not likely to change - what may change is how business sits within its sub-categories. M&A is likely to remain a prosperous market, as will the majority of financial services. London is the financial services capital of the world and going forward this will continue to be the case. In 2018 for example, the financial services sector contributed £132 billion to the UK economy, 6.9% of total economic output and 49% of the sector’s output was generated in London. In the last six months, we have not seen any notable negative changes in the job market - boutique and accountancy firms have seen little impact so far. In Q1 of 2019, there were 1.1 million financial services jobs in the UK and there will certainly be opportunities within the Corporate Finance market post-Brexit. For more information on this article or for any of your Corporate Finance recruitment needs, contact James Thompson on 020 7269 6365 or james.thompson@pro-finance.co.uk.

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FRC calls for the break-up of Audit and Non-Audit Services of the Big 4

The new chairman of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has called on the government to enforce the separation of audit and consulting at the Big 4 accounting firms. Simon Dingemans, who started at the FRC in October told the Financial Times that breaking up Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC was a “critical” measure to improve the quality of their audits. Simon Dingemans, who formerly worked at Goldman Sachs and GSK, replaced the FRC’s former management team last month and has advised the government that they should get involved to make this split of services within accounting a legislative change. This separation of audit and consulting within accountancy firms was first proposed in April by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), who were clear that auditors should focus exclusively on audit to secure higher quality, and not also on selling consulting services. They proposed that separation would achieve this by: Creating a strong audit culture in the firm and eliminating tensions with the very different culture of advisory services Enhancing transparency Making audit truly independent by ending the subsidies from the rest of the firm “Demonstrating a culture of quality, independence and objectivity” and eliminating “undue influence from the wider (non-audit) business” This has been resisted by the Big 4 as well as mid-tier firms across the industry. They have argued that the CMA’s recommendation to split non-audit and audit services into separate entities would challenge the firms’ resilience. Earlier this year, leading figures from each of the Big 4 were questioned by MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee on the future of audit and their views on the recommendations of the CMA. David Sproul of Deloitte argued that if audit services were made to be a separate entity and split from consulting services it would put the accounting firms at stake. As detailed by Accountancy Daily, this is because audit fees only form 20% of firms’ overall fee income, meaning the separate entity would not have the 80% from non-audit services to make it robust and able to stand alone without the multidisciplinary practice behind it. Mid-tier firms including BDO, Grant Thornton and Mazars have also expressed their reservations of an audit and non-audit split with concerns that if the rule was extended to challenger firms, they would be left with insufficient profits to invest to compete with the Big 4. Scott Knight, Head of Audit at BDO said “legal separation undermines the viability of audit and non-audit practice”. There are also fees to consider - with a separation of audit and consulting services, fees are likely to rise across the industry. However, there would be some positives that could come from this separation. A split should drive quality forward as people will have one sole focus, whether this is audit or non-audit services. As well as this, the audit entity could be run entirely by auditors, whereas currently, only around 25% of people at audit practices are from an audit background. The CMA has also proposed mandatory joint auditing in the UK, where one firm is the Big 4 and one if mid-tier or smaller, which has been denounced by both the FRC and the Big 4. Dingemans has said that “joint audits lead to duplications, confusion of responsibility and extra costs for no obvious added value”, and Bill Michael of KPMG has agreed that although a joint audit would provide another pair of eyes, in reality, it would be very difficult to implement. For more information on this article, contact Callum MacRae on 020 7269 6369 or calllum.macrae@pro-finance.co.uk.

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Pro-Finance 'ACA/ACCA - What Next?' Event with Katherine Stone and Nigel Walde

Last night on Wednesday 6th November, Pro-Finance hosted an 'ACA/ACCA What Next' careers event. We welcomed Katherine Stone, Corporate Finance Manager at Moore Kingston Smith and Nigel Walde, Partner at Saffery Champness who shared how they translated their years of hard work into senior positions. We welcomed a group of young accountants and finance professionals, ranging from those approaching qualification up to 3 years post-qualified, to our office space in St. Paul's for drinks, nibbles, and networking. Pro-Finance was joined by successful finance leaders Katherine Stone and Nigel Walde, both of whom gave advice and shared their experiences in the industry. Katherine Stone is a Corporate Finance Manager at Moore Kingston Smith - awarded the 2018 Corporate Finance Advisory Firm of the Year in England. She joined the firm in 2013 and qualified as a Chartered Accountant and has worked for a mixed portfolio of clients of all sizes across a number of sectors, providing audit, accounting, taxation and general business advice. Since joining Moore Kingston Smith, Katherine has been involved in a number of assignments including due diligence, listing and fundraising assignments, valuations and financial projections, and she shared her invaluable insights into the world of Corporate Finance post-qualification. Here at Pro-Finance, we have helped many finance professionals make the jump from Audit to Corporate Finance and our specialist recruiters can offer further insights into working in the sector. A role in Corporate Finance gives you the opportunity to be at the centre of how a business operates, and playing an active role in the commercial success of a business is both exciting and challenging and can be a very rewarding career choice. But what can you expect from a career in Corporate Finance, and how difficult is the jump - read our specialist advice here. Nigel Walde is a Partner in Saffery Champness' London office and has been at Saffery's for over seven years, providing specialist advice on claiming the creative sector tax reliefs. He has been providing advice, audit and accounting services to the media industry for over twelve years, having previously worked in the film team at RSM Tenon. During his career, Nigel has worked with a wide range of clients from small independent film and television production companies to major US Hollywood film studios, and he also advises video game and theatre companies. We recently spoke to Nigel about working within the TV, Film and Creative industries, and he shared the secrets to good leadership and the challenges of Partnership - read his 60 Seconds interview here. Once you qualify, you will most likely find yourself at a crossroads in your finance career - there are many options available to you and no-one can tell you with certainty the right step to take; it’s up to you to use your judgement and make the decision that’s best for your future career. Ultimately, your decision will come down to the sector, culture, progression opportunities and professional development and Pro-Finance can provide insights and advice for the next steps in your career. Read our advice article 'ACA - What Next?', regarding firms, specialisms and career development, or consider the options available to you within the audit and accounts market. Once you become a newly qualified accountant, you will also come up against the decision of whether to build a career in practice or to move into an industry role. Both have their pros and cons, and your decision will ultimately come down to what type of person you are and what is important to you in your career. Making this decision can often feel daunting, but we have put together all the information you will need to help you make an informed decision - Finance Practice vs. Industry: The Big Debate! If you didn't get the exam results you were looking for, there is also no need to worry! Some of the best candidates, Partners, and Finance Directors we have worked with have had fails on the ACA or ACCA - it's an incredibly tough qualification and a fail on an exam certainly doesn't mean the end of your finance career. You may want to reevaluate where your career will head - you may choose to resit at your current firm, to move into industry, or move to a different firm with further study support. Read our advice on what you should do if you haven't got the ACA results you wanted, or contact us for an informal discussion about what to do next! Our expert recruitment consultants often get asked the question - “Why should I use an agency?”. This is a fair enough question for people who have historically gone direct to their employers, and aren’t aware of the numerous benefits that working with a recruitment agency can bring. Whatever stage you are at in your career, having the right people helping you in your job search can bring many benefits and make all the difference when it comes to finding the right role for you. There are various benefits of working with a recruitment agency vs. going direct - recruitment consultants can streamline your whole jobseeking process, source new opportunities that suit your career aspirations, and help you with every aspect of job searching, from inside knowledge from years of relationship building to interview preparation tips. ​ For more information on this article, or for advice on your next steps after you qualify, contact Tom Eagle on 020 7269 6349 or tom.eagle@pro-finance.co.uk.

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October 2019: Finance Movers and Shakers

Stay up-to-date with the movers and shakers in the finance sector. Here are the key movements in October 2019: KPMG has appointed Marc Abrams to run its East Midlands practice as Senior Partner of its Leicester and Nottingham offices. He takes over from Ian Borley, who is stepping down from the role ahead of retirement in April after nearly 35 years with the firm. Accountancydaily.co Deloitte has appointed Sankar Mahalingham as a Director in its UK pensions business. He will be based in London, specialising in pensions advice to corporates and trustees, and focusing on the expansion of Deloitte’s pensions consulting activity. He previously spent four years at XPS Pensions Group, most recently as Head of Defined Benefit Growth. Accountancydaily.co Menzies LLP has promoted Anna-Marie McCrarren, Head of Outsourcing Services, to Partner level. She is responsible for overseeing the firm’s growing outsourcing services team across its Woking, Solent and London offices. Accountancydaily.co Andrew Johnston joins FRC Conduct Committee. The Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) Conduct Committee oversees the audit regulator’s enforcement work. As well as government actuary he was also a member of the management board administering the World Trade Organisation pension plan. Economia.icaew.com Drew Stevenson has been appointed Energy Sector Leader at PWC, succeeding Alan McCrae. PWC’s deal leader for the energy sector since 2014, Stevenson has more than 25 years’ experience of deals and transaction services across a wide range of industries and global territories. Financemoves.co.uk For more information about this article, or to speak to Callum about your recruiting needs or Finance jobs in London or Nationwide, contact him on 02072696369 or callum.macrae@pro-finance.co.uk. Back to Finance Movers & Shakers Archive >>

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Didn’t Get the ACA Results You Wanted - What’s Next?

So, you didn’t quite get the ACA results you were looking for – what do you need to do now? Well, if you are working for a firm with a strict exam policy and you expect your contract will be terminated, try not to worry as you do have plenty of options! Many top firms have been known to try and work around the policy for exemplary employees - there are several ways they do this: Offer to keep you on without study support Offer to keep you on but switching to the ACCA Offer you another chance but without support for the resit(s) I must say, this is very rare in my experience and it’s likely you could be on the lookout for a new role. A common misconception is that you will easily jump from a Top 10 firm to another firm within the Top 40 but unfortunately, most of the firms within this bracket do hold similar policies. If they take you on, they will be massively contradicting the termination of many other contracts for previous employees – it just doesn’t work! At this point, you need to re-evaluate where you are heading with your career because there are many paths before you that you may not have even considered before. Heading to Industry So, you have left a pure audit role within one of the largest brands in accountancy. This is the main key to industry because you now have the large brand on your CV to get you in the door. The very best thing you can do at this point is to move to a mid-tier or small firm, where you can pick up varied experience rather than just auditing a tiny part of a huge organisation. This is a very good place to be for you! If you're unsure whether a practice or industry role is right for you, we have provided everything you need to know to make this decision in Finance Practice vs. Industry: The Big Debate! Running a Practice If the practice life is your choice long term and you want to either become a Partner or start your own firm, realistically, it’s unlikely to be Partner at the Big 4 for 99.9% of auditors/ accountants. Your best path to Partnership is again moving to a mid-tier firm or a small firm and becoming more rounded. Smaller client experience is essential when you are going out to pitch to work with smaller clients! I have advised candidates who have left a Big 4 firm to start their own practice to prepare to answer the questions - as a small independent retailer what can you do for me? You haven’t prepared a set of accounts before? Become varied. If Partnership is your goal, read our 6 Top Tips for Making Partner! Big 4 or nothing at all!? Many candidates simply say to me that their dream is to work for the Big 4… Well, if that is genuinely the case, your dreams are not hindered by working for a mid-tier firm or better yet, a specialist boutique! Smaller firms are usually more progressive, if you move up quickly and specialise in a niche area – you still have a great chance of moving to the Big 4 providing the clients are sizeable and you have IFRS experience under your belt. Even if you go into a heavy accounts position, we are regularly moving strong accounts candidates from the mid-tier into Top 10 and Big 4 outsourcing divisions. Corporate Finance or Advisory Great news for those wanting this kind of experience - the mid-tier is the best ticket in! Firms with Corporate Finance divisions at this level can provide you with experience on an ad-hoc basis and shape you for a move into a boutique or a large division in a top firm, as opposed to waiting for years internally for a move that may never happen! It’s the best possible outcome for you! If Corporate Finance is a route you are considering, read our specialist advice on what to expect and how to get there! You just want to qualify! Not decided what you want yet but want to qualify in a supportive environment? Well, good news! I have clients who shape study support to your preferences, let you postpone exams when needed and make it their mission to get you qualified. They do not treat you as a statistic that could be walking out of the door. We can get you qualified! In Summary Take a breath – some of the best candidates/ Partners/ Finance Directors I have met or worked with have had fails on the ACA. It’s an incredibly tough qualification and when you are leading a listed audit out in Basingstoke whilst sitting your finals – it’s a pretty tough gig! Your career is not over, it’s only beginning and it’s time to go and get that experience you need to get anyway. If you would like to have an informal chat about what to do next or discuss semi-senior vacancies, I am always available to help! ​ For more information about this article, or to speak to Kate about your recruiting needs or Finance jobs in London or Nationwide, contact her on 02072696363 or kate.green@pro-finance.co.uk.

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September 2019: Finance Movers and Shakers

Stay up-to-date with the movers and shakers in the finance sector. Here are the key movements in September 2019: Jo Upshall has been promoted to Audit and Business Advisory Partner at Mercer & Hole. Jo is based at this mid-tier firms Rickmansworth and St Albans offices, where she has experience of managing a varied portfolio of business clients. Jo has gained much experience in the manufacturing and construction sectors, as well as in advising UK subsidiaries of overseas companies. Mercerhole.co.uk EY has appointed Markus Salolainen as a Partner in its UK technology, media and telecoms M&A practice. Salolainen joins the team from AGC Partners where he held the position of Head of Europe and will focus on the communications, mobility and cyber sectors. Financemoves.co.uk BTG Advisory has announced the appointment of four new Partners to its London Canary Wharf office. The new Partners include two external appointments, with Anthony Brennan joining from CameronBarney LLP and Paul Davies from Menzies. Financemoves.co.uk Top 20 firm Crowe has promoted Tara Westcott to Partner in its Non-Profits team. Previously a Director at the firm, she was promoted to Partner with effect from 1 September 2019 and will continue to provide external and internal audit, financial reporting and accounting and regulatory compliance services to a wide range of clients. Accountancydaily.co ​ For more information about this article, or to speak to Callum about your recruiting needs or Finance jobs in London or Nationwide, contact him on 02072696369 or callum.macrae@pro-finance.co.uk. Back to Finance Movers & Shakers Archive >>

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A Night at the British Accountancy Awards 2019

It was a pleasure to host Matt Meadows, Corporate Finance Partner at Moore Kingston Smith, Jim Brown, Outsourcing Partner at Blick Rothenberg, David Cox, Head of Audit & Assurance at haysmacintyre and Roger Weston, Business Advisory Partner at Saffery Champness on our table at the prestigious British Accountancy Awards this year, which took place on Wednesday 25th September at the Grosvenor House Hotel. Pro-Finance was honoured to attend this event and it was a fantastic evening had by all, hosted by comedian Sean Lock, highlighting and celebrating excellence in accountancy and finance. This leading industry event welcomed over 900 guests from practices all over the country and showcased outstanding achievements from across the industry during the last twelve months. Pro-Finance was proud to sponsor the National Firm of the Year Award, recognising firms who have added significant value to their clients and across all service areas, helping clients to achieve specific business goals, increase revenue and satisfy and delight their customers. Well done again to all those nominated for this award and congratulations to MHA Macintyre Hudson who took home the award for National Firm of the Year. There were over 20 awards won throughout the evening and we extend a huge congratulations to all of the nominees and the winners of these fantastic awards - as detailed below - for being recognised for their efforts as distinctive leaders in the accountancy profession. Thanks, British Accountancy Awards for a fantastic evening - we will see you next year! British Accountancy Awards 2019 Winners: - International Firm of the Year - PwC - National Firm of the Year - MHA Macintyre Hudson LLP - Mid-Tier Firm of the Year: Turnover Between £10M - £25M - Crunch Accounting - Mid-Tier Firm of the Year: Turnover Less Than £10M - PKF-FPM Accountants - Independent Firm of the Year: Greater London, England - Flinder - Independent Firm of the Year: Scotland, N. Ireland & North, England - Infinity Partnership - Independent Firm of the Year: South-East, England - Ad Valorem - Independent Firm of the Year: South-West, England - Dunkley's Chartered Accountants - Independent Firm of the Year: Wales & Midlands, England - Inniaccounts - Independent Firm of the Year: East, England - Farnell Clarke - Small Practice Innovation of the Year: Turnover Below £3M - Mazuma - Mid-Tier Innovation of the Year: Turnover Between £3M - £25M - MHA Carpenter Box - Large Firm Innovation of the Year: Turnover Above £25M - Smith and Williamson - Innovation & Transformation of the Year: Accountants in Industry - Futurelink Accountancy Services - Large Firm Graduate and Non-Graduate Programme of the Year - MHA Macintyre Hudson LLP - Small Firm Graduate and Non-Graduate Programme of the Year - Sterling Finance UK - Outstanding Advisory or Client Project of the Year - Infinity Partnership - Tax Team of the Year - MHA Macintyre Hudson LLP - Audit Team of the Year - BHP - Finance Team of the Year - RSA - Rising Star of the Year - Harry Pampiglione, PwC - Partner of the Year - Roger Isaacs, Milsted Langdon - CFO/Finance Director of the Year - Ciaran O'Donell, Virtual FD - Best Employer Award - PKF-FPM Accountants - Outstanding Contribution to Accounting and Finance - Sue Almond, Grant Thornton ​ Click here to view the full shortlist >> For more information about this article, or to speak to Tom Eagle about your recruiting needs or Finance jobs in London or Nationwide, contact him on 020 7269 6349 or tom.eagle@pro-finance.co.uk.

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60 Seconds With: Richard Kleiner, CEO & Managing Partner at Gerald Edelman

Richard Kleiner is Managing Partner and CEO at Gerald Edelman. Richard qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1983 and became a Partner in 1986. Richard has recently passed the examinations of the Institute of Chartered Accountants to become licensed to offer Probate Administration services. Throughout his impressive career, Richard's main areas of focus have been strategic management, corporate finance and private equity, and he holds several non-executive board member positions for companies in various sectors ranging from investment advisers and technology companies to those in the retail, hospitality, business services and professional services sectors. You have had an impressive career with Gerald Edelman, what do you think the benefits are for sticking with the same firm? Committing to the same business gives you the opportunity to develop a niche and reach a position of increasing influence to shape the future of the firm - both in terms of business development and internal processes. This is because you get to really understand the workings of the business and are able to build a reputation of dependability, allowing you to gain trust, progress and influence future decisions. On day one, you never know what lies ahead of you. When did you realise that you wanted to be a Partner? I have always been driven and ambitious, so it is no surprise that from the very first day I started work in 1978, I knew I wanted to become a Partner. How do Gerald Edelman differentiate themselves in the market? We do not refer to ourselves as accountants. We find this too limiting. Instead, we have a strategy to become the first port of call for any business or client and therefore invite businesses to “ask us anything”. How big is the partnership team and what advice would you give to anyone who wants to join the partnership? The Partnership team will shortly comprise 16+ Partners. Anyone wanting to join the firm as a Partner - whether an internal member of the team or externally - needs to show dynamism, passion, enthusiasm and an ability to have a positive impact through leadership. How would the Partnership group describe you? You’d better ask other Partners! Honestly, I think they would say I am extremely driven and responsive. I am always looking at how we can improve and develop as a business; I do not like to stand still. What advice would you give to your younger self? To move into Corporate Finance at a much earlier age. I truly enjoy being involved in real deal-making, particularly structuring joint ventures and alliances and helping to prepare businesses for sale. When you interview someone for your organisation, what is the first thing you notice about a person and what does it tell you? How many questions and challenges they have for the firm. This is perhaps the most important thing for me, I want people that work at Gerald Edelman to be as passionate and ambitious about the business as I am. I am also mindful that an interview is a dual process; we have to sell the firm, perhaps even more significantly than the interviewee has to sell themselves. What challenges, personally or professionally, do you think the next generation face? IT is one of the biggest challenges the next generation must face. They need to gain as much experience as possible, as quickly as possible. IT is already taking over many of the manual tasks that used to be undertaken by humans. When you stepped from Partner to Managing Partner/ CEO, what challenges did you personally face? One of the biggest challenges I faced was uniting the team and ensuring that our internal management information was fit for purpose. Thanks for your time Richard. One final question for our readers, what do you like to do to unwind outside of work? Cooking and drinking wine. For more information on this article, contact George Tatnell on 020 7269 6357 or george.tatnell@pro-finance.co.uk. Back to 60 Seconds archive >>

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Working in Corporate Finance: What to Expect and How to Get There

A role in Corporate Finance gives you the opportunity to be at the centre of how a business operates. Playing an active role in the commercial success of a business is both exciting and challenging and can be a very rewarding career choice. But what can you expect from a career in Corporate Finance, and how difficult is the jump? If you want to be at the heart of what makes businesses tick then a career in Corporate Finance might be the right path for you. You will get to see first-hand how organisations source funding, handle capital and complete takeovers and your role will cover a broad range of activities which are primarily concerned with transactions in which capital is raised in order to increase the value of the company or clients you are responsible for. There are a number of professional roles that fall under the umbrella of Corporate Finance in which you could find yourself working on a wide range of matters including mergers & acquisitions, raising startup or expansion capital, or financing joint ventures. As Corporate Finance is so integral to business and covers such a wide range of duties, the opportunities are vast. Roles can vary depending on the firm and the team you sit within, but typically you will work within transaction support of M&A or lead advisory, although more firms are beginning to offer hybrid roles which allow you to develop a broader skillset early on in your career. Many choose to qualify then remain as an advisor within an accountancy firm, or you can choose to make the move into a professional services company, whether this is an investment bank, brokerage firm or independent advisory firm. A role in Corporate Finance is forward-thinking, strategic, proactive and entrepreneurial in nature, and if you have good commercial awareness and a natural interest in business, it could be the right career path for you! How can you make the jump from Audit to Corporate Finance? We often find that people with an academic background in accounting & finance or economics are suited to a career in Corporate Finance. While no other specific qualifications are needed, we are seeing a rise in the number of people taking specialised financial modelling courses and having your ACA/ACCA/CFA will put you in a strong position and give you the necessary foundations to understand the fundamentals. Corporate Finance is a popular choice for lots of chartered accountants which, naturally, means there is a lot of competition - you will most likely find the market is swamped with your fellow audit and advisory colleagues as well as existing employees of banks, boutiques, and Big 4 M&A teams that may rank ahead of you as the ‘ideal’ Corporate Finance candidate. There are things you can do to help the progression of your own Corporate Finance career. You could move to an established firm with a large Corporate Finance division which provides the opportunity for secondments or ad hoc exposure. Training within the Audit team of an accountancy firm and studying for your ACA/ACCA will allow you to establish foundations that make the move into Corporate Finance more natural. Search for exposure that will differentiate you from other members of the audit team, develop your soft skills, and focus on the professional qualifications that will stand you in good stead when it comes to applying for the Corporate Finance roles available. Here at Pro-Finance, we have helped candidates make the jump from Audit to Corporate Finance, whether this is because we have placed the Partner they are meeting and they want to recruit externally, or because it’s a specialist boutique and they only take candidates with top-notch academics and experience from top-tier firms. Speaking to a specialist recruiter about your options in the market and the opportunities available can put you in a good position, help you stand out from the crowd, and help you to plan your career path in Corporate Finance. For more information on this article, or to speak to James about your next career step into Corporate Finance, contact him on 020 7269 6365 or james.thompson@pro-finance.co.uk.

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60 Seconds With: Martyn Atkinson, Partner, Head of Audit and Accounts at Sopher + Co

Martyn Atkinson has been with Sopher + Co for over 20 years and is now Partner and Head of Audit and Accounts. At Sopher + Co, Martyn manages a significant portfolio of corporate clients and owner-managed businesses. His client base crosses many industry groups but his main focus is in financial services (including hedge funds), media and entertainment and professional services firms. You have an impressive career with all of your time being at Sopher + Co., what do you think the benefits of staying with one firm throughout your career history are? The ability to grow strong client relationships. At Sopher + Co one of our core values is putting the client first and during my time here I have been able to create long-lasting relationships with clients understanding their needs and tailoring our services as their businesses and circumstances change. I have also enjoyed watching my team grow and being able to act as a mentor gives me immense job satisfaction as I watch them progress through their career. On day one you never know what lies ahead of you. When did you realise that Sopher + Co. was the firm you wished to be a Partner at and why? Established in 1975 as a family business, the firm have kept the same values at its core. This allows for decisions to be made at a rapid pace as there is an open-door policy with all Partners. This also means for those individuals who are willing to work hard there is more responsibility and progression routes available. What is great about working for Sopher + Co.? Over the years I have watched the firm grow its strong reputation and with this comes the opportunity to work with a diverse portfolio of clients spanning over 20 industries. This includes some of the most influential entrepreneurial individuals and businesses in the UK. As a top 50 Accountancy firm (Private Client) we have a key focus on growth and professional development of our colleagues with study packages available and a great working environment. How big is your team and what advice would you give anyone who would apply to be part of the team? Within our Audit and Accounts team, there are 76 fee earners spanning all career levels. As an interviewer, I look for a range of qualities within candidates – enthusiasm, attention to detail, confidence within their own abilities and good interpersonal skills. Candidates who are ambitious, hard-working and are good at what they do can progress and reach their potential at our firm. How would your team describe you? You will have to ask them… but I would hope: methodical, collected, approachable and knowledgeable. What advice would you give to your younger self? Be your own self-advocate in order to drive your own success. Make the most of every opportunity you are given, even if you don’t recognise it as an opportunity at the time. Don’t be afraid to take risks and ask questions– as we all have to learn! When you interview someone for your team or organisation what is the first thing you notice about a person and what does it tell you? Generally, before the interview, I engage in some small talk and this together with body language and the handshake gives a good idea of somebody’s personality and a real idea of where and how they would fit into the team. What challenges, personally or professionally, do you think the next generation face? I think the next generation will have to embrace change at a more rapid pace, particularly as further technological advancements are made. Whilst there is a lot of uncertainty within the finance sector currently, I believe automation and AI will play a much bigger part in the role of accountants in the future. What do you do to unwind outside of work? I play hockey at the weekends as well as going to the gym to try and keep fit. Thanks for your time Martyn, and as a little treat for all of our readers…do you have any guilty pleasures you can share with us? I am a fan of Eurovision! ​ For more information on this article, contact Callum on 020 7269 6369 or callum.macrae@pro-finance.co.uk. Back to 60 Seconds archive >>

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July 2019: Finance Movers and Shakers

Stay up-to-date with the movers and shakers in the finance sector. Here are the key movements in July 2019: Darren Reeds has joined CVR Global as a Partner for the Insolvency and Restructuring firm. Darren joins from Deloitte where he spent over five years as Head of Financial Advisory Services for the Big Four firm’s insolvency and restructuring division in the British Virgin Islands. He specialises in fund recovery, and cross-border litigation and enforcement procedures and will be based at the London office. accountancydaily.co Nick Andrews has joined BDO as a Forensics Partner. Nick will be based in their London office after joining from Grant Thornton, where he was Partner in the forensic and investigation services department Economia.icaew.com Simon Dingemans has been appointed Chair of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), and will lead its transition into a newly established regulator called the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA). Simon is the recently retired CFO of the FTSE 100 pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline. accountancydaily.co Specialist corporate finance firm Verde Corporate Finance has hired Mike Fenwick FCA as Associate Director to boost the senior management team. He has over 30 years’ experience and spent 28 years in practice including 21 years at PWC before being appointed finance director at Wild Water Group. accountancydaily.co MHA MacIntyre Hudson has appointed Robert Blech as a Director to join their professional practices sector team. He has 17 years’ experience in accountancy, 14 of those as a Director at Accura Accountants. He will specialise in accounting for the legal sector including SAR audits. accountancydaily.co For more information about this article, or to speak to Callum about your recruiting needs or Finance jobs in London or Nationwide, contact him on 02072696369 or callum.macrae@pro-finance.co.uk. Back to Finance Movers & Shakers Archive >>

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Using a Recruiter to Your Advantage

Whatever stage you are at in your career, whether you are Associate or Partner level, having the right people help you in your job search can be instrumental to the success of your career. The right consultant can help you with every aspect of your job search, and there are key points which can make your journey with a recruiter beneficial and effective. Most important, however, is ensuring you choose a reliable and credible recruiter and make the most out of the relationship. There is a certain notoriety when it comes to the recruitment industry. Scrolling through LinkedIn usually tells a very sinister story! Undoubtedly there are some shocking stories out there but there are also firms and recruitment consultants who can really make your job search a positive experience, and there are things you can do as a candidate to make using a recruiter work for you. 1) Transparency On occasion, candidates will be very reluctant to divulge certain information that is essential to help them. Think about it, you are asking for a recruiter to approach people in your industry and represent you as the best candidate possible. We're going to be intrusive, want to know every last detail about your career and your requirements. How else do you expect us to represent you in the best possible light to prospective employers without this information and to ensure we approach relevant firms? This is your career we are talking about and to support you I need to know as much as possible. 2) Think of where we add value Fundamentally we're here to provide a service to you. We help to make you better at applying to jobs. This is a crucial message I try to deliver as a recruiter when I talk to any candidate. For example, some of the key areas where I can add significant value to your job process are: Market Expertise – Working across a specialised marketplace, I can give you inside knowledge on what the market has to offer from an employment perspective. Who pays best? Who offers most flexibility? Where are you going to reach your career pinnacle? Managing Processes – I'm able to manage all your applications and your diary for interviews whilst ensuring you have one point of contact, processing everything in one call rather than five. This saves you a huge amount of time and makes sure distractions to your current working commitments are kept to a minimum. Negotiations – Negotiating can be difficult and stressful, especially when it's your personal finances at stake and when you don’t know who you're negotiating with. As a recruiter, I can manage this on your behalf. We use our relationships with the employer to your advantage to get you the best possible outcome, removing all unnecessary stress. 3) Exclusivity I'm confident that anyone reading this has their own “nightmare recruiter story” and will, in a number of cases, have used a number of agencies rather than one. Exclusivity is, in my view, the best approach. Having said that, don’t just pick anyone, believe it or not, we are not all the same! Exclusivity prevents duplicate applications, prevents multiple phone calls and prevents the “tug of war” scenario where you don’t know who to believe when considering multiple options. I’ve been there myself, I know it’s an absolute nightmare but learning that lesson could well be costly career-wise! 4) Find out about your recruiter You are going to enter into a world full of different people, offering conflicting approaches and contrasting methods of finding you your next job. Yet when I speak to candidates for the first time, it’s very rare they ask questions about myself or my firm. Ask your recruiter questions, find out what they have to offer, how they intend to approach the market, what their opinion is. That initial phone call is essential to assessing the credibility, competence and talent of the person you're entrusting your professional future with! Form a job search strategy with them, see if they understand what you're looking for and be selective in who you work with. A good recruiter will instil confidence that they are the best person to help you with your next career move. Make sure you assess them thoroughly! Summary These are just some key points that I know from experience, on both sides of the fence, has helped make a candidate journey with a recruiter effective and beneficial rather than disastrous and damaging. The fundamental theme comes down to trust, respect and honesty between all concerned. This is the fundamental starting to point to any successful business relationship, isn’t it? There are poor recruiters in our industry but tell me an industry that doesn’t have bad people/firms operating within it? Take the provisions from the start to make sure you work with the good recruiters and receive the best service from them! For more information on this article, or to speak to Tamara about your Legal recruiting needs, contact her on 020 7269 6368 or tamara.salem@pro-legal.co.uk.

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Are Robots Taking Over the Finance Profession? The Impact of Technology and AI on the Finance Sector

Nobody knows for certain what the future of the finance profession will hold, but technology will undoubtedly be involved. Automation and other technologies, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI) are revolutionizing finance and accounting work, and accounting professionals need to be prepared for whatever happens next. There has been discussion amongst finance industry commentators who believe technology will eventually replace many existing finance positions. Changes in accounting automation has resulted in finance functions boosting efficiencies and aligning with digital transformation initiatives, and technologies such as cloud computing, software robots and virtual reality are transforming workplaces and revolutionizing finance and accounting work. As a result, repetitive single-function jobs are most immediately under threat, particularly task-based and data-driven roles, and experts have predicted that by the latter half of the next decade AI will have advanced even further and potentially replace more sophisticated roles. Some UK accountants are worried that their jobs will be outsourced, whether this consists of roles being sent overseas or replaced by technology. Post-Brexit uncertainty was the main worry for 31.6% of accountancy professionals recently surveyed by GovGrant in association with Accountancy Age, but technology-based change was cited as the biggest challenge, with 40.5% of survey participants fearing being replaced by technology and 30% concerned about keeping up with new technological developments. However, the survey also revealed a degree of optimism along with an awareness of the need to adapt to technology and provide value-added services, with only 5.8% very pessimistic about the future of the sector. As surmised by GovGrant CEO Luke Hamm - “There are opportunities out there right now for accountants to start redefining the services they provide and the interactions they have with their customers”. So, do finance professionals need to be concerned about the future impact of technology on the sector? It can be easy to worry that new and disruptive technologies, such as AI, will only have a negative impact on jobs, but technology’s power to change the landscape of a profession and the nature of work is not a new phenomenon. Just as technology has and will inevitably make some jobs obsolete in the future, it will also create opportunities for innovation and open up new markets and career paths. Eliminating task-based and purely data-driven work, AI will give accounting professionals the chance to take on fresh responsibilities and gain more exposure to different areas of the profession, advancing skills as analysts and advisers. While audit and other traditional finance jobs may be under threat, few firms have said that auditors will become obsolete - instead, the finance sector will look for strategic vision and advisory skills in employees. Rather than just seeking a data-driven skill set, firms will look to hire people with strong advisory skills, strategic and commercial awareness, and emotional awareness and people skills - those important soft skills that a robot or automation system won’t have. As a result, it is unlikely that accounting automation and robotic finance professionals will completely replace humans any time soon. However, it is still a good idea to future proof your career by anticipating technological changes in your workplace and increasingly working with automated tools and emerging technologies to perform the best possible service. Skills to help your career moving forward may include data analytics, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and creativity and strategic thinking. As long as you stay ahead of changes in the digital space and continuously update and refresh your skillset, accounting automation and technological developments are unlikely to become a major threat to your career success. Rather than shy away from major developments in this unprecedented period of technological change, be bold and flexible, and focus on innovations and use them to you and your firm’s advantage, ultimately advancing your career. For more information on this article or to speak to our finance recruitment experts about changes in the sector and your options in the market, contact Kate on 020 7269 6363 or kate.green@pro-finance.co.uk.

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Working With a Recruitment Agency vs. Going Direct

Here at Pro-Group, our expert recruitment consultants often get asked the question - “Why should I use an agency?”. This is a fair enough question for people who have historically gone direct to their employers, and aren’t aware of the numerous benefits that working with a recruitment agency can bring. Whatever stage you are at in your career, having the right people helping you in your job search can bring many benefits and make all the difference when it comes to finding the right role for you. Recruitment consultants can streamline your whole jobseeking process, source new opportunities that suit your career aspirations, and help you with every aspect of job searching, from inside knowledge from years of relationship building to interview preparation tips. So, what are the main benefits of working with a recruitment agency? 1. You are not restricted to only apply to “live” vacancies Whilst job seekers looking to apply directly have to wade through the internet looking for companies that are hiring for live roles, recruitment agencies have spent years building relationships with the decision-makers of these firms, meaning we know what they want, even if they aren’t publicly recruiting for it. This is probably one of the biggest benefits of working with an agency, being able to interview for roles that other people can’t. 2. We ask the questions that you don’t want to Feel the salary is too low? Want to know how many people are interviewing for the role? Keen to know what the interview will entail? Interested in what benefits they offer? These are all questions that you might not want to ask in an interview, but we are happy to find out for you, leaving more time for you to concentrate on getting it right in the interviews. 3. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail A good recruiter knows their client and knows what that client is looking for. This allows us to prepare you prior to interviews for everything that the interview process involves (technically and competency-based), and for everything the client might like (or dislike) personally. Interview preparation is massively helpful and having the inside scoop could be the deciding factor in you getting the role over the candidate who went direct. 4. Efficiency Finding a job takes time and effort, why not let us take the brunt of that? We understand that you still have to work and maintain a personal life, and working with us saves you time and energy by letting you concentrate on what matters, your performance in the interviews themselves. These are just some of the key benefits of using an agency, but there are so many ways that working with a recruiter can give you a competitive edge. If you are interested in finding out more about how we can help you in your job search, get in touch! For more information about this article, or to speak to Kate about your recruiting needs or Finance jobs in London or Nationwide, contact her on 020 7269 6363 or kate.green@pro-finance.co.uk.

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