It is no longer just the financial community who understands just how crucial the role of the FD is. Thanks to the Enron and WorldCom scandals, the finance director’s job and the whole arena of corporate governance are subject to greater scrutiny.
There is now a greater appreciation of just how difficult it is to complete the circle of how executive teams, and finance directors in particular, achieve growth and profitability while maintaining the highest standards of financial probity.
This year’s winner, Philip Lloyd, director of finance at the Learning and Skills Council, is a great example of an individual charged with managing money very publicly.
The judges were looking for evidence of substantial financial achievement, along with good communication, efficiency and high-quality service. They described the LSC as a success story in which Philip Lloyd played a big part and described his own achievements as ‘fantastic’.
The LSC was established in September 2000 with the responsibility for the education of the 16-plus age group. It is the UK’s largest non-departmental public body with an annual income of £8.1bn. This money funds 400 colleges of further education, 1,800 sixth form colleges and more than 1,000 providers of work-based learning.
Lloyd was appointed to the LSC as its first FD in October 2000. His immediate challenge was to create a finance function from scratch, complete with the systems, procedures and policies to ensure that public funds were spent only for the purposes approved by parliament, and in line with government accounting regulations.
What’s more, he had to create it in six months.
The LSC’s staff was transferred from 73 different organisations across the country. From day one there was an effective accounting and cash management system in place and, within a year, systems had been enhanced to improve delivery. The first set of accounts passed with flying colours, with no points in the management letter on accounting systems.
Lloyd’s finance model has delivered clarity and efficiency and his colleagues describe him as a good communicator, a professional and a pragmatist.
One of the LSC’s key operational challenges is to make sure that funds are spent fully each year, and that the body comes in as close to budget as possible. The spend depends on the number of students at each college or school.
However, getting a final headcount on learners from each of a range of institutions is near impossible. This makes for a complex situation with funds having to be re-allocated to colleges where demand for courses is higher than planned. The LSC has had very low levels of unspent funds for each of its two year-ends so far.
Lloyd’s leadership skills and professional abilities have kept spending on track in an unpredictable environment.
OTHER SHORTLISTED CANDIDATES:
- Roger Barker of Muntons
- Rick Bloomfield of Don-Bur Holdings
- John Rishton of British Airways
- Eric Tracey of Amey
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