Last week, a client of ours, Lesley Baliga, gave my team what I regard as the ultimate compliment.
Working with us, she told me, meant that she never had to think about how her organisation’s finances were run, because it was simply so efficient.
“It’s the kind of thing that’s high on your agenda when there are problems,” she said. “In the past, I’ve had cases where there were big financial to-do lists, issues that don’t get resolved or lots of inefficiencies.
“But our finances are run so smoothly it’s practically under my radar…”
Her words were music to my ears, because making your financial management smooth and painless is a large part of our raison d’etre.
If you spend too much time fighting financial fires in your business – for example, scrambling around to pay a “surprise” bill or discovering suddenly that you can’t afford that expense you committed to – you’ll know how important this is.
When your finances are a mess, everything in your business feels like a mess!
It’s been several months since we started working with Lesley, so last week I caught up with her to discuss what the experience has been like – and the impact it’s had both on her and her organisation.
TEDI-London is in many ways an unusual client for us. They are not a commercial business, but a new design-led engineering school being created by three global partners: King’s College London, Arizona State University and the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
The programme is still extremely new, and won’t officially open to students until September 2021.
So unlike most of the organisations we work with, we didn’t come in to professionalise the financial management of a company that already had an accountant or bookkeeping team in place, but had outgrown their arrangements.
However, TEDI already has significant funding, and although it’s brand-new, it is already planning for a future of high growth. And that takes careful financial management.
“The point was to help us set up correctly right from the start,” says Lesley, who is TEDI-London’s interim FD. “We wanted solid financial foundations, so our finance department would be fit-for-purpose in the future.
“Our entire ethos is about challenging the norm and looking at better ways of doing things, from academic delivery through to back office support functions. We didn’t want any financial bureaucracy – just efficiency.”
Lesley looked at several models to manage the finance department, including keeping things in-house.
“We decided on an outsourced model because I came across Insight,” she says. “I did my research and found a few others who claimed to do the same thing, but they were really just accountants doing bookkeeping, and they didn’t get what I was looking for.
“Insight understood immediately that we wanted a finance department that would seamlessly integrate into our organisation. They needed to be able to answer all the day-to-day questions that might arise, and also give a wider service and support that you wouldn’t normally be able to afford in a small organisation.”
Since we started working together in early 2020, our focus has been to implement all the basic financial systems and processes which make a finance department run efficiently.
So, for example we set up the payroll and pension schemes and handle the administration of these… Raise sales invoices to funding partners… And put in place tried-and-tested purchase ledger processes and treasury/cash management procedures.
If you’ve been reading my content for a while, you’ll have heard me talking about Iplicit, the world-class accounting platform we use for our clients. TEDI-London was the first to be put on Iplicit from the start, rather than migrating to it from another platform.
“The Insight team also does so much work behind the scenes I’m hardly aware of,” adds Lesley. “They’re like swans gliding over the water elegantly, but underneath the surface they’re churning away.
“Just last week I discovered that they were setting up something complicated, to do with becoming a supplier for someone in the US. I didn’t even know it was being done…”
Smooth financial management makes a “huge” difference to the running of the organisation, she says.
“We’re setting up a new university and good information is key to any organisation, particularly in start-up mode and particularly given the current economic and public health situation! We need to be agile and that takes good information to make key business decisions.”
The best indication of all that the new finance department is working well?
“I’m an interim FD who came in to set up the finance team. I expected it to take me a year,” says Lesley. “It actually took me three months, and I can now move on knowing that I leave a legacy of really efficient finance function.”
If that’s the kind of financial management you’re looking for, get in touch with me today.
No matter whether you are a start-up in rapid growth mode, or an established business turning over more than £1 million a year, we can institute all the same critical systems and processes we put in place for TEDI-London.
And as you can see, it doesn’t even matter if you have an FD (or even an accountant or bookkeeper) in place who you want to keep. We can work with your existing team to create a truly world-class finance function – and make your own life, as business owner, so much easier.
Just hit ‘reply’ or call us on 01279 647 447, for an informal chat about your needs.
Looking forward to hearing from you.