Celebrating 15 years as a Freelance Management Accountant

25th November 2015

Benefits of using a Freelance Management Accountant

The average owner manager of a small to medium sized business may not know what 'management accounting' is. They may not know how it could benefit their business and probably will not know how and where to get this management input and advice on a cost-effective basis.

Management Accounting (for an SME) - I would say it is the analysis, reporting and review of all the financial and other information which is relevant to the success of the business, to be provided on a regular basis, maybe monthly, for some businesses quarterly, to enable better understanding and decision making within the business – whatever you do, don’t wait until you’re thinking about your annual year end accounts!

The Benefits - the analysis and reporting should lead to better understanding of the key drivers within the business, this coupled with improved financial modelling (reviewing a range of potential outcomes) will lead to better decision making and identification of measures of success (KPI’s). Performance can then be evaluated against the plan and the learning fed back into the process to make the next planning phase better and more robust.

Who provides this 'Management Accounting' – I believe there is only one real source, a CIMA qualified Management Accountant. There are many CIMA qualified Management Accountants with years and years of valuable experience in all types of businesses who can provide the analysis and insight to make a difference.

How Can It Be Cost Effective? – some CIMA qualified Management Accountants operate on a freelance or consulting basis – you don’t need to worry about employment contracts, notice periods, pensions, auto-enrolment, holidays, company structure and hierarchy - you just pay for what you use - if you see the benefit, which I’m sure you will, you can continue with the management input and advice on a regular basis to suit the needs of your business.

Why not try it!

17th June 2015

#isitok – to just be a really good management accountant?

I never really knew what I wanted to do for a living, just that I was good at maths, economics & geography which pointed towards some form of business occupation. I did a degree in Accounting & Financial Analysis at Warwick Business School, without truly knowing what accounting was. After graduating I just did some temp work in an accounts office (they hired me full time within a few days) before a recruiter sat me down one day and said I needed to get my act together and get qualified if I wanted a proper career. It didn’t need much research to work out CIMA was the route to go. Following this route enabled me to become a Chief Accountant, Financial Controller then Financial Director within a fairly short space of time. All of this was in the small company environment and I was involved in every key decision, which was fascinating and rewarding! But the politics were rife and the hours were long!

The question - How can I do all the fun stuff, the analysis/reporting/decision support/director mentoring without selling my soul to the business? My answer was to go freelance and try and emulate what I had done before but across a number of businesses in different sectors. This just reinforced what I’d previously thought – I had found my vocation in life - working with owner managers or MD’s of smaller companies, understanding their aspirations, delving into the businesses, providing the right information, making a difference, adding value, finding solutions to problems, evaluating everything for them – but not taking it home every day.

During all of this I entered into the CIMA Members in Practice world, a place full of very successful people, a mix of high flying entrepreneurs, some more traditional accounting practices offering compliance as a lead service, some specialist consultants, but as far as I could see not so many freelancers like myself. At the annual conferences in the midst of all these success stories I’ve quite often sat back and thought 'Am I doing something wrong?' My worry was that I had no desire to build an ever expanding business, I had no appetite for compliance work, I didn’t possess a specialism where I would stand out from the crowd and I didn’t feel I needed the best looking website or my own app (or certainly couldn’t afford it). On reflection, the last 15 years has confirmed to me I’m not doing anything wrong, it’s actually ok to focus on what you feel you’re really good at.

#isitok – to just be a really good management accountant? – I think it is.

10th June 2015

Weekly Work Life Balance Formula

It just occurred to me the other day that I think I’ve found a good work-life balance. Being a freelance management accountant gives you freedom to work from home and plan your own day but you also need to engage with people at your customer sites to stay in tune with how businesses thrive and survive. You also need to have some flex for the urgent customer requests, keep your education on track, fit in your business admin and plan some midday slots down the gym (it’s less busy and there are less biceps and six packs to be compared to)

Nearly everyone has key elements to their job that if balanced well could make for a better work life.

So I’ve created a formula for my ideal work life balance as a planning tool for my own work;

My Weekly Work Life Balance Formula is: WWLB = 2.5C + 1.5H + 0.25A + 0.25E + 0.5F

© 2015 Avalon Management Accounting Limited

C = Day working at Customer Site

H = Day working at Home

A = Day of Business Admin

E = Day of Education

F = Day of Flex (for anything unplanned – if not required for work use for Marketing)

This formula can be applied in any order during the week and the days at home, on admin and education can be partly early morning or in the evening to allow extra social time during the usual “9-5” working day.

Have a think about your ideal formula.

3rd June 2015

A Career as a Freelance Management Accountant

During my employed career working for a range of smaller privately owned businesses I always had a vision that I could perform the FC/FD role across a much wider range of businesses. In each work role I made an impact by just doing what came naturally to me; getting stuck into the numbers, working out the key drivers, assessing the different personalities, getting the right information at the right time to the right people, planning the future with all the potential scenarios. So I took a leap of faith!

15 years on…

I realised that I’ve now spent as much time in my current career than all of my other roles put together, so it was a successful career move. It wasn’t plain sailing in the beginning, I had to fill some gaps with contract work, but I backed myself and my passion for getting the numbers right and giving true commercial insight to smaller business owners and managers. The strongest business relationships I have today go back to those first few years of trading.

In celebration of this achievement, over the next few months I plan to share some of my thoughts and experiences gained over the last 15 years. I am hoping this will provide encouragement and insight to those who are following, or planning to follow, a similar career path.