When a highly qualified member of staff decides to leave, timing their exit to correspond with the arrival of their replacement isn’t always possible. If you have a gap in cover for a financial management role, an experienced RfM accountant can step in to ensure that the finance side of running the company isn’t disrupted.
Bridging the gap in financial management
In autumn of last year, a valued client came to RfM Consultant Paul Newsham for advice after receiving notice that their finance manager was leaving. They realised that, with the time it takes to advertise, interview and select the right candidate, the company could be left with a gap in financial expertise for several weeks, if not months.
Our client’s business encompasses a number of companies operating across the property and construction sectors. Paul suggested that a member of the RfM team who has relevant experience in industry could be a great fit to bridge the gap in cover. The benefit of this over, say, sub-contracting a freelancer or contractor, would be familiarity with the business and the senior management team, and our understanding of the financial position of the company.
The business owners agreed with the approach and Lee Tomlinson was put forward as the man for the job.
Lee, who is Director Designate at RfM’s Preston office, began his career in practice before moving over to industry where he spent eight years in commercial finance roles. He returned to practice at RfM in 2015 and regularly draws on the experience he gained in industry.
Read more about Lee’s career journey and experience.
Following a brief handover period with the outgoing finance manager, Lee got straight to work to ensure that there was continuous financial oversight. Working internally – at the businesses premises and within the finance team – Lee started to build a clearer picture of the business’ finance function. He soon identified some areas that could be improved relatively quickly.
“As the accountants acting for a business, you have a good idea of the financial position. But you don’t always see what lies behind the figures; which operational processes are contributing to – or hindering – success. Once I was in the role, it didn’t take long before I was able to identify some inefficiencies in the current finance processes,” explains Lee.
“I started by giving other members of the finance team responsibility for some of the operational tasks that the finance manager had been carrying out. I did this by matching tasks to the appropriate skills. My logic for doing this was two-fold. Firstly, the team were certainly capable and, with a little extra training, could easily manage the additional responsibilities. Secondly, this meant that the incoming finance director would be freed up to allow them to take a higher level strategic role and play to their strengths.”
Opportunities for development
Lee was also keen to support the team to develop their skills and spotted opportunities for doing so. “One of the team members in particular is very keen to develop and progress as a finance professional. I encouraged them to think about taking further qualifications which they have decided to do in the near future with the support of the business owners.”
Lee’s time in the role will come to an end in a few weeks time but not before he provides a thorough handover to the new finance director.
“Because of the scale and nature of this business, it would be impossible for the company to continue to operate effectively without support from someone with the right skills and expertise. Whilst I have only held the mantle for a relatively short period, I have ensured that it’s been “business as usual” – financially at least. And I will be handing over with a finance function that runs more smoothly than it did before.”
The incoming finance manager is also grateful to Lee for the commitment he has shown to the role: “Thanks to Lee’s invaluable help and advice my introduction to the company has been as smooth as it could be. He has gone beyond what you would expect of an interim manager and really got involved with the business and the team – bringing accounting information up to date, identifying weaknesses, initiating change and developing staff members.”
Lee has enjoyed his time working in-house and feels that he has also gained from the experience. “Whilst the accounting and finance knowledge I have is transferable to many different industries, I have really enjoyed the opportunity to develop a more in depth understanding of this particular sector. I’ll take the knowledge I’ve gained with me to support other, similar businesses.”
A business does not need to be a client of RfM Accountants to benefit from this level of support from us. If you need short term strategic financial support due to a gap in cover, or perhaps to trial the need for a permanent position, we can help. Contact one of our offices or enquire online for more information.