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FDX 2014: Inspirational FD

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Peter Hoole, financial managing director and co-founder, Cact.US

Amongst Peter’s biggest contributions to the fortunes of digital agency growth specialists cact.us was the dramatic simplification of time consuming and complex tax schemes. 

Peter was also able to restructure a traditional marketing business that lost 75 per cent of its clients’ spend in the last quarter of 2012 in less than 30 days. As a result, a business that was facing imminent collapse was turned around in under three months. Today it is a thriving digital agency.

In addition to his work at cact.us, Peter has co-founded the Agency Collective, which targets the 250,000 creative businesses with under five staff in the UK, many of which are unable to scale due to their heavy reliance on year end accounting and being unable to afford FD services.

He gives talks on how these businesses can improve their financial intelligence around all areas of cash management and how to avoid common pitfalls.

Julie Pomeroy, FD, Dillistone Group plc

Julie has led and successfully integrated two acquisitions in the past two years, as well as restructuring Dillistone Group to assist liquidity in the trading of shares. 

She has reduced the bid/offer spread in the shares from around 20 per cent to less than five per cent, and attracted new institutional shareholders to the share register.

Julie has also managed to control costs in a growing software company with on-going demands for development capital and has led internal and external teams to achieve a common goal – a 48 per cent growth in share price in the past six months.

“Julie has led a process of change within the business to align internal and external stakeholders around a process of improving stock market visibility and share price stability, in addition to performing the day job of running a growing business that has made two successful acquisitions in the last two years,” says chief executive Jason Starr.

Tim Kowalski, group FD, Findel plc

When Tim joined Findel in 2010, the company was struggling under a debt burden incurred during a misguided acquisition spree and a reputation damaged by the discovery of accounting irregularities. Finances were very tight, with the business operating under emergency bank financing, and rehabilitation was far from certain. 

Tim has since brought in a new central finance team, new FDs for subsidiary businesses where necessary and changed all reporting lines so that he has a direct line of sight into each subsidiary. He bought a new robustness to business planning, raised new equity from shareholders and secured improved banking terms that gave management the room to run the business and deliver the turnaround.

“Tim has played a central and fundamental role in what has been an extraordinary turnaround story – the recovery of Findel plc from an almost bankrupt group to a vibrant and growing business,” says Group Chief Executive Roger Siddle. 

“As an FD I have total trust in Tim. He is all over the numbers and always has his own “Plan B”. He sees the big picture but keeps an eye on the detail.”

Robert Kerse, executive director of finance, Circle Housing

In his fourth role reporting directly to the chief executive, Robert has an exceptional track record in optimising the finances of housing associations, most recently at Circle Housing.

After less than a year at Circle, Robert has already identified opportunities that will strengthen the bottom line by over £6m in 2015. 

Robert was also responsible for a sector first while in a previous role at Genesis Housing. He initiated and delivered a £125m sale of market housing in the course of development to M&G with a medium term lease back to Genesis. 

This substantially reduced Genesis’ sale exposure and was the first time that direct pension fund investment had been brought into the market rented sector. 

“Robert has a phenomenal energy as well as a wealth of knowledge – breadth and depth,” says Paul Rickard, Group Director of Corporate Finance. “He is approachable and supportive and will always make time for colleagues.”

Mark Hesketh, finance director UK & Europe, Standard Life plc

Mark is leading Standard Life’s UK Finance through the largest period of transformation since the company demutualised in 2006. His team is radically changing its technology and processes, initiating massive programmes that fundamentally change the way the 369-strong function works. 

Investment in new technology has been a key focus, including implementing a new ledger delivering multi-million pound benefits, new actuarial models and supporting IT infrastructure, all in less than 24 months. Mark has also led a 60 per cent reduction in the cost of production and control allowing additional investment in business partnering capabilities.

Mark’s efforts have been well rewarded. He and his team have worked in partnership with all areas of the business to help drive a doubling of profit over the last two years for Standard Life in the UK.

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