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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.


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


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


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 Back to 60 Seconds archive >>


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.


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!​​ Back to 60 Seconds archive >>


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. 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 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. 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. 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. ​Back to Finance Movers & Shakers Archive >>


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


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


June 2019: Finance Movers and Shakers

Stay up-to-date with the movers and shakers in the finance sector. Here are the key movements in June 2019: Romy Comiter has been appointed Managing Director, global assurance services at FTI consulting. Romy was previously a financial services Partner at Mazars where she spent eight years leading the insurance consultancy team. PwC is promoting 69 new equity Partners, up from 54 last year. Together with 13 direct Partner hires recruited during the year, the firm’s total UK Partner number is now 944. This year 38% of the newly promoted Partners are women and the firm says the pipeline of women coming through into senior roles is also stronger, with 38% of newly promoted Directors female.  In addition, 16% of the new Partners are black, Asian and minority ethnic and 27% are based outside London. Jamie Lane has joined Saffery Champness as a Partner based out of their Bournemouth office. Jamie joins from Smith and Williamson where he operated in an audit and transaction services role. Jamie trained through the firm rising to Partner prior to his departure. Business advisory firm Quantuma has appointed Duncan Beat as a Partner to its Chelmsford and London offices. He is a licensed practitioner with over 30 years’ experience in corporate insolvency matters. He joins the firm from Baker Tilly Creditor Services LLP, where he was Managing Partner. During his time in the industry, he also established an insolvency department for a major firm. Prior to this, Duncan has held roles at RSM, Cape and Dagleish, Elliott Woolfe & Rose and Stoy Hayward (BDO). Cooper Parry has quit the PKF network in the UK after being part of the group for over five years. There was understood to be a geographical conflict over an office opening which competed with another PKF UK member firm.​ Back to Finance Movers & Shakers Archive >>


60 Seconds With: Nigel Walde, Partner at Saffery Champness LLP

Nigel is a Partner in the Saffery Champness' London office, providing specialist advice on claiming the creative sector tax reliefs. He also has a depth of experience in the UK Cultural Test and qualifying co-productions, as well as providing auditing and accounting services. Nigel acts for a wide range of clients, from small independent film and television production companies to major US Hollywood film studios. He also advises video game and theatre companies. He has been providing advice, audit and accounting services to the media industry for 12 years, having previously worked in the film team at RSM Tenon. What three traits define you? I care about the clients I work for and the people who work around me. I am conscientious and sometimes a little impatient. What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had? There have been a couple, cleaning the letter cubby holes in my local post office and working in the laundry room of a large hospital – I was told it would do me good at the time. How do you define success? Being the ‘go to’ person or company in the industry you work in. What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this? I would like to do something entirely different that involves me spending my time outside – I have always liked the idea of farming! What is your personal philosophy? I believe that to feel truly satisfied and progress you need to be well outside of your comfort zone as much as possible. How do you start your day? Jumping on my bicycle and riding to work, it is a great way to get you going in the morning! What’s your favourite thing about working for your current company? It is full of bright, energetic and enthusiastic people who have an appetite to succeed and have an interest in the success of our clients. What are the secrets to good leadership? Remain composed no matter how difficult the situation is, show encouragement and allow people to do what they are good at. What makes your company unique? We work in specialist sectors and excel in the work we do and the advice we give in those areas. What has been the biggest challenge since you have been promoted to Partner? As a new Partner growing the team, business and winning new work for the firm is challenging. You are also very quickly required to start running the business. However, it is all enormously rewarding and a great learning experience. For more information about this article, or to speak to Kate about your recruiting needs or Finance opportunities in London or Nationwide, contact her on 02072696363 or Back to 60 Seconds archive >>


Interview Preparation Tips for Auditors

Whether you have a 1st class degree in Mathematics from Oxford and ACA 1st time passes or not… You need to prepare for your interviews. Here at Pro-Finance, too many times have we worked with candidates who genuinely believe they do not need any help from a recruitment consultant in order to prepare for their interviews, and despite the obvious loss on our side when candidates come across too arrogant or unenthusiastic and get rejected – a knockback is sometimes necessary to prove the importance of interview preparation. If you are serious about finding and securing the best role for you, you need to commit to the processes you chose to apply for. So when it comes to due diligence and mentally preparing for your interview, what should you be doing? Our specialist finance recruiters have put together advice on 7 key areas to prepare before your interview! 1. Research the company Read everything there is available on the company! Don't just read one line on the 'About Us' page. You want to read their mission statement, research the sector specialisms, check for awards, news articles, previous mergers and acquisitions, look at the company LinkedIn profile, the Glassdoor profile and reviews. 2. Who you are meeting? This is essential - your questions at the end of the interview are key to getting enthusiasm across and a personal buy-in from your interviewers. Showing you have done your research and being able to ask personal questions creates a personal interest for example; “I noticed you moved across from Top Firm & Co three years back, what attracted you to this particular firm?” 3. Research the role itself  Make sure you have read the job spec carefully - you want to match your CV with the spec as best as possible and also note down any questions you have with regards to the role. You do not want any nasty surprises to creep up on you and find out you are wasting everyone’s time. 4. Prepare for CV-based questions You want your reasons for leaving each role to be fluid, no hesitations and everything to make complete sense. Never bring any negatives into an interview so please, do not tell them how much you hate your old boss for twenty minutes. 5. Prepare for competency-based questions Strengths, weaknesses, difficult clients, difficult colleagues… You want as many questions to already be answered in your mind so when someone says to you, what is the largest client you have worked with – you don’t say “ERRRRR… I’m not sure…. ERRRRR”. You want to come straight back at them with a structured answer, with specific details of actions you personally took and the results that followed. 6. Have questions ready You must have a couple of questions regarding the role and the firm to get your enthusiasm across and, even better, you should try to engage with your interviewer/s with a personal question. 7. Book a mock interview with your consultant! After all of this preparation; that’s when you are ready for your mock interview. Once you have finished your mock interview, you want to take all of that back home and revisit your preparation to brush up your answers.   Aside from these key preparation points, you should also ensure you give yourself some time to fully relax the day before and ALWAYS call your recruitment consultant the second you leave the interview. If you give the wrong answer to a question but call the consultant immediately, he/she may be able to call the relevant Partner immediately to explain the nerves may have crept in and rushed an answer you know was incorrect – giving them the opportunity to overlook it. The moral of the story is, trust your consultant to help you prepare and never think you are beyond preparation. No matter what level you are; preparation is always important.   For more information about this article, or to speak to Kate about interview preparation tips or Finance jobs in London or Nationwide, contact her on 02072696363 or


The Benefits of Working in a Finance Charity Role

Working in a finance role in the charity sector offers you the opportunity to use your skills in finance and accountancy to support a cause you are passionate about. Many finance professionals who work in the charity sector note that job satisfaction, a good work-life balance and the chance to give back are just some of the benefits of working for a Not-For-Profit organisation. The third sector offers a huge range of opportunities, from varied roles to different working environments, many of which are just as exciting and fast-paced as the commercial sector. Considering a career change? Our specialist charity finance recruiters have provided insights as to why you should consider moving into a finance role in the charity sector.   Joining the finance department of a charity or Not-For-Profit organisation puts you right at the heart of the organisation. Working in finance in this sector offers variation - you could find yourself working to raise the profile of fundraising projects one week and ensuring donations are accurately recorded the next. It is important for charities to have a strong financial infrastructure as well as committed and motivated employees to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation, all the while contributing towards its cause. Whether you are managing gift aid, maintaining financial records or developing profit projections, the way in which an organisation’s finances are run allows for goals to be reached and for invaluable work to continue successfully. Due to the importance of an effective finance department within charities, there is a constant demand for finance professionals who have a genuine interest in the sector - or even better, a genuine connection to a charity’s cause. Moving from a finance role within a large corporate company to work for a smaller charity is incredibly beneficial, as you can use your commercial background and awareness to add value to a non-profit organisation. While the emphasis in a purely commercial organisation is on profitability, the focus across many NFP organisations is now on surplus and return on investment. There are many ways in which the knowledge that comes with having a commercial background can be utilised in the charitable sector. NFP organisations often have trading companies underneath them selling a product and using the money from sales to invest back into the organisation’s valuable work. For example, the income of the British Council is projected to being in the region of 2 billion by 2020, the majority of which is going to come from commercial activities. This is similar for a charity like Marie Curie, where profits from sales and retail operations are invested back into funding care and support. While these are examples of larger organisations, smaller charities also often have a commercial function to maximise the impact of donations and funding towards the core goals of the charity. This is why charities and Not-For-Profit organisations need finance professionals who have a commercial background, as having commercial awareness means that you appreciate profit and loss, ROI, scenario planning and dealing with commercial products and sales. Salaries and benefits will depend on the size and location of the organisation, and while larger charities may have the means to offer larger salaries, smaller charities will have smaller finance departments which means more responsibility and the chance to make a big impact. Laura de Poitiers, Finance Manager at Belu Water Ltd surmises, ‘the best part of my job is seeing the work I do have a real impact on the profits we can make, the carbon savings we can deliver and the transformations these actions can effect on the world and its inhabitants.’ The main reason many people choose to work in the charity sector is wanting to give back and make a difference, as opposed to benefitting shareholders. As cited by the ICAEW, whether you want to support your local community, the natural environment or causes that affect people all over the world, you can work for an organisation and a cause that means something to you.   The charity sector can be overlooked by finance professionals searching for roles, but no longer is the charity sector seen as a dusty old sector or the ‘poor cousin’. In reality, organisations within the third sector are often exciting, commercial and fast-paced and can offer a rewarding career, and you often see people who have this ‘world first mentality’ move from corporate organisations into small charities and Not-For-Profit organisations. Working in a finance charity role, you get the best of both worlds! It is an opportunity to utilise your commercial experience as well as making a real difference in society. For more information on this article, or to talk to Matt about your next finance charity role in London or Nationwide, contact him on 020 7269 6323 or


60 Seconds With: Alicia Crisp, Partner at MHA MacIntyre Hudson

Alicia joined MacIntyre Hudson as a graduate trainee at the North London office in 2007, qualifying as a chartered accountant in 2010. Alicia is a Partner in the London office, managing a portfolio of clients, and her key focus is working with owner managed businesses across London and south Hertfordshire, from new start-ups to long-standing companies.  You have an impressive career with all of your time being at Macintyre Hudson, what do you think the benefits of staying with one firm throughout your career history are? For me, a huge part of being an accountant is working with people. Being at the same firm means that whether I'm trying to support a new trainee with a problem, mentor someone looking for promotion or deal with a technical client query I have some idea of what they are going through. It also means if I’m not comfortable with the way something is working I know how to go about trying to find a solution. It has its limitations too though, whenever I recruit someone from another firm I encourage them to suggest different approaches to doing things.  You must be very proud of being promoted after only 10 years of joining the firm. Are you one of the youngest people that have made Partner?  While I was the youngest Partner for a while, I certainly wasn't the youngest ever. I was 22 when I started whereas some of our Partners have started as school leavers at 18. Last year I was awarded number one in the Accountancy Age 35 under 35 just before our AGM. While I was thrilled it also felt slightly awkward, I have never thought I am doing anything special and my fellow Partners certainly helped keep me grounded with the jokes about the advantage of being the only partner under 35 at the time! On day one you never know what lies ahead of you. When did you realise that Macintyre Hudson was the firm you wished to be a Partner at and why? I am quite a loyal person, MacIntyre Hudson has always presented great opportunities and variety which made it easy to want to stay and I'm not someone who would leave just in case there is something better out there. I have had opportunities to move on and have always chosen to stay – while things aren’t always perfect, as a firm it really does suit me, I like the level of client contact that I have had from the beginning, we are small enough that hard work and a good attitude mean you can be recognised and rewarded but large enough to have some top-level specialists that mean we can give a level of client service to be proud of. What is great about working for Macintyre Hudson?  I can get a bit over-enthusiastic about why I think MHA is a great firm to work with or for - it has changed a lot in the time I have been here but growth has brought with it lots of opportunities. Inevitably we lose a number of our newly-qualified staff to industry each year, but the feedback we always hear when they come back to visit is realising just how much great training and support they have received at MHA compared to other people out there. How big is your team and what advice would you give anyone who would apply to be part of the team?  My immediate team is seven people but I dip into other teams a lot and at peak times can have as many as twenty people working for me. As one of the staff partners in the London office and someone with a growing team, I do a lot of interviewing. The best advice I can give is to be open about who you are and what you value. A key strength in any team is the diversity of skills, abilities and life experiences. Be frank about what you can bring to the table and authentic about what motivates you - while you need to have your interview answers prepped you need to let through some of yourself, it isn't all about scripted answers to questions! How would your team describe you?  Tough question! I’d guess fair, approachable and if I am honest possibly a bit demanding. I am a firm believer that you get back what you put in, that doesn't mean that you have to work twelve hours every day of the week, but I want everyone to make the most of the opportunities to learn and develop, it will make people want to invest in you (and also makes it easier to accept the days when you maybe lose your focus a bit!) While I can be out of the office a lot, if someone on the team is experiencing a personal issue, supporting them is a key priority so I will endeavour to stop and make time for them. What advice would you give to your younger self?  Maybe to do a couple more life-experience type things before settling down for a career, it feels like there's so much pressure to get a job and start moving forward with life when really another year or two of travelling or learning a language wouldn't have hurt, as long as I could have worked enough to pay for it. That said, I was lucky enough to take a sabbatical in 2013/14 to do a ski season in France which was a great opportunity to catch up on something I wished I had done before. 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?  I really try hard not to be distracted by first impressions, it is easy to be put off by someone rushing their words due to being nervous or distracted by lack of neat presentation. Although, neat and appropriate clothing and a sensible handshake will always help get things off to a good start! What challenges, personally or professionally, do you think the next generation face? There are a lot of unknowns about technology, things are changing so rapidly I can imagine it will be hard for people to plan what to study when things are changing so much. The cost of studying is increasing too so there is pressure on making the ‘right’ decision. Apprenticeships such as the AAT are a great way to balance getting professional training while earning money. It is never too late to change your mind or take some time out, accountancy was a last minute career change for me coming out of university and I have never looked back! What do you do to unwind outside of work? I love doing things that are different from the day job, particularly being active. When I can, I go climbing or to a dance workshop, but at the very least I try and get to the gym or go for a run even if the thought of finding the time is stressful. Aside from that, even if my day finishes late I try and end the evening with a couple of pages of a book - it really helps to switch off Thanks for your time Alicia, and as a little treat for all of our readers…do you have any guilty pleasures you can share with us?  Theme parks - every year I take at least one day off to go to somewhere like Thorpe Park or Blackpool Pleasure Beach, genuinely one of my favourite days every year. I recently heard someone say one of the great things about having kids was getting to go to theme parks again and I thought 'wow was I supposed to have grown out of that?'. That and the Christmas Movies channel, but that’s a bit seasonal..! For more information about this article, or to speak to Tom about your recruiting needs or Finance opportunities in London or Nationwide, contact him on 02072696349 or Back to 60 Seconds archive >>



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