This client operates in the care sector, dealing with local authorities and commissioning teams across the whole country. As the Operations Director explains, “We’re a heavily regulated business so must maintain very tight financial control and provide a variety of detailed reports whenever required. It’s not just about seeing how well the business is performing – we also have to show stakeholders that everything is being done in an efficient, responsible and compliant manner.”
At the start of 2015 the business was experiencing significant growth, putting pressure on the back-office accounting systems – the sheer volume of information and the speed at which the directors required the monthly accounts, meant that an upgrade was required. What’s more, increasingly onerous regulatory requirements persuaded the management that the system’s reporting capabilities needed to be enhanced. We were recommended as consultants and asked to review the financial processes, the way information was recorded and the reporting capabilities in order to suggest how improvements could be achieved.
We solved their system problem, achieving huge improvements in the monthly reporting. This enabled us to provide them with an accurate and detailed snapshot of their gross profit within a few working days of the start of the current month. It also made it relatively easy to collate regular monthly statements for external partners to prove the organisation was fully compliant with its numerous regulatory responsibilities.
The director comments that “Our business is difficult to account for, with lots of different ratios and formulas. The previous system worked, but in quite a clunky way. It wasn’t joined up. They have created a system where all the elements are integrated seamlessly. Even though our requirements are unusually complex we now have a system that produces exactly what we need.”
He adds that “I could have brought in one, two or three people in the office who could have maybe put all that together, but it would have cost us a lot of time and money and I’m not convinced they would they have done it as effectively as Brook.”
One of the benefits, in the director’s own words, is that “The system gives us the ability to dive into the detail of a figure and work out what’s happening, and see whether that’s going right or going wrong…the reports kind of flag up where there might be a problem, or an opportunity.”
Following the success of this initial engagement we were then asked to take over the financial management of their group of companies as an outsourced provider. We now handle all aspects of their day to day finances:
The director is very happy with this arrangement. “I’m good at what I do, but what I don’t do is accounts. So I want someone who is good at that to do it for me. You can hire people internally, but if they aren’t doing it properly you’ll only find out six months later. The problem with accountancy and finances, it’s quite hard to manage and monitor if you are not a specialist in that area yourself. Brook know exactly what they are doing and each member of the team is making sure their colleagues are doing the job correctly. I feel very confident that everything is exactly as it should be.”
We have weekly meetings to ensure that Finance and Operations are in close communication. Although we are not physically in-house we make every effort to be a truly integrated part of their business and regular communication is key to this.
The director comments, “We were worried about outsourcing, but actually we have found Brook very accessible, very easy to work with, very accommodating. It’s never an issue about getting hold of them, or getting someone to do something. They never say ‘I can’t do that today because I’m busy on another client.’ I actually can’t speak highly enough about them. What they are doing for us, on a day to day basis, is a big undertaking.”
We met with the directors and took enough time to fully understand their requirements, frustrations and aspirations. We didn’t just look at the present situation but also focused on the changing environment and where the directors wanted to take the business.
Armed with this information we built capable and robust systems and controls that are truly fit for purpose, now and in the future. This makes it easy for us to provide them with incredibly detailed and useful financial information on a very timely basis – not only does this assist them in developing their business further but provides the necessary reports to satisfy all their stakeholders that everything is being done in an efficient, accurate and compliant manner.
We also make sure all costs and income are tracked with intricate detail – again to help with management decisions going forward.
Whereas they previously employed a single Financial Controller we now provide them with a team of nine people, each of which is a specialist in their own area of financial management. This means they have a breadth of expertise and depth of knowledge that is quite unique.
The director feels this works well. “They have different people allocated to different roles, but that doesn’t ever mean it’s not joined up. One person has lead responsibility for one particular aspect of our finance but each of those lead people work together as a team very well. I never get the sense I’m talking to one person and they don’t know what the other person is doing.”
He adds that “It doesn’t matter which one of them you speak to, they know instantly what’s going on, what needs to be done, and are very focused on our business. It’s such a bespoke and dedicated service, and they are all so responsive to our needs, that I find it hard to believe we are not their only client!”
“I have no hesitation in recommending the team at Brook. It was the right thing for us and I would entirely endorse their services. If you are considering outsourcing your financial management processes I would strongly suggest that you have a conversation with them”.