Lesley Spencer: consolidating her position

Stepping into the role of finance director at accounting consolidator Tenon,
Lesley Spencer will feel the pressure to produce immediately.

Spencer replaces Matthew Brabin, who had just over two years in the role, and
was shown the door last week following a slower first half for the company than
in previous years.

The situation had looked somewhat different just a few short months ago, when
the company produced its results for the year ended 30 June 2005, described by
analysts as ‘well ahead of expectations’.

But this performance was not reflected in the share price at the company,
just one of two publicly listed accountancy firms.

At the time, chief executive Andy Raynor said that Tenon would continue its
strategic review, which included an evaluation of management. It now looks as
though Brabin and chief operating officer Bill Davidson were the unfortunate
fall guys of that analysis.

But whereas Davidson will not be replaced, Spencer steps into the still warm
shoes of Brabin as the company, according to Raynor, ‘moves into a different

The step up to finance director will be a whole new challenge for Spencer
and, if the experiences of Brabin are anything to go by, Raynor will expect her
to hit the ground running and not let performance slip.

But she should be used to working with her boss, both having operated out of
the same BDO Stoy Hayward office in Nottingham prior to the move to the

Spencer transferred to Tenon in October 2001 when the company bought up the
two east Midland practices of BDO. She had been a partner at BDO in Nottingham,
and previously was head of corporate advisory services.

Following the takeover, Spencer became head of the business services
department and managing director of the Nottingham office, where she looked
after the interest of several public companies and well as helping to grow
family and owner managed businesses.

Her rise through the ranks saw her specialise in transaction support, and in
particular on helping companies to list on the AIM market. Spencer’s experience
also saw her investigating acquisition targets for banks, venture capitalists
and other clients as well as preparing documentation for inclusion on stock
exchange circulars.

More recently she took on a role at Tenon working on human resources and
development between 2003 and 2004, after which she became a project director
working on strategy, people development and communication.

The ICAEW-qualified accountant will now be key to helping the business from
its current place as the tenth-largest accountancy business in the UK. She will
also be attempting to breathe new life into a business model that has had its
validity constantly questioned.

The company’s share price is currently at a 12-month low of around 29p
following the announcement of the changes, and just a couple of months ago
rumours were rife that private equity firm Alchemy Partners had approached the
company with a view to taking it off the market.

Those rumours have been strenuously denied, but if performance does not pick
up and drag the share price with it, the company will be left dangerously
exposed to any interested parties.

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