PracticeAccounting FirmsAwards 2006: The AA – Business finance team of the year

Awards 2006: The AA – Business finance team of the year

Accountancy Age Awards 2006 winner: The AA – Business finance team of the year

aa awards 2006

Sponsored by ICAS

Since its acquisition by CVC/Permira back in September 2004, the AA has been
on a mission to turn its business and its finance function around.

Taking this year’s Business Finance Team of the Year Award confirms that the
AA has successfully achieved its aims. In the judges’ view: ‘This was a team
that stood out as being completely committed to the organisation and making a
major contribution. They had a clear task and set about achieving their goals
with real gusto.’

Following the buyout from Centrica, a review of the AA’s activities resulted
in an ambitious plan to increase earnings before interest and tax from just over
£100m to £300m over a five-year period. The idea was to focus attention on
profitable core businesses, improve efficiency and drive down costs.

With such a well-known brand, the company also set itself the goal of
improving sales and market share.

To that end, the finance team helped to identify £150m in cost savings and
restructuring initiatives, and a £1.8bn debt was refinanced. By June 2006,
earnings before interest and tax was up 28% on the previous year ­ an
improvement of £26m.

Led by finance director Paul Woolf, the 200-strong finance team also took up
the challenge to bring its operations up to date and align itself more closely
with the business.

The AA wanted a flexible, revitalised department. Today, the finance team has
flattened its structure and changed its profile within the company. It provides
consultancy to other parts of the business, with a team member involved in all
business decisions.

The team also provides financial information on a far faster turnaround. It
closes monthly management accounts in four days and provides statutory accounts
six months earlier than before the overhaul.

The time taken to produce budgets and forecasts has been halved, a new
graduate training scheme has been introduced and staff turnover stands at only
2%. It all adds up to a motivated and committed team.

A FOCUS ON PEOPLE

The AA’s finance department remains committed to developing its people. As
well as a new graduate training scheme, all team members undergo a training
Programme developed and run by team members. The department has an open door
policy with senior managers, runs an annual away day and regular social events.

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