Meet Adam, an everyday hero working as a Finance Manager in the Finance Cycle Team at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.
Below, Adam has shared his story to show what a career as a Finance Manager is like.
What's your role in a nutshell?
I manage the Financial Cycle Team that looks after all the financial aspects that mean we can deliver services to residents, such as setting and controlling budgets, paying our bills, ‘treasury management’ - making sure we invest in the right things, do the VAT returns and prepare the annual statement of accounts. I took on this new role just before the first lockdown, certainly not ideal trying to get to know my team from the home not the office.
Planned career or fell into?
Well, it was never the plan to become an accountant when I started with the council aged 18, fresh from my A levels, on the bottom rung of the ladder. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do but was good at maths so I applied for a trainee finance role. Yet I’m still here aged 32 having worked my way up and being trained and developed to get my accountancy qualifications, and now there’s only one more level above me. So, it seems a lot more like a planned career now. And I still don’t do much maths in my job – one of the myths of accountants!
Doer, manager or leader?
All three. I’ve recently been promoted so now manage a team of 28 so that’s about making sure that I make the right decisions to make sure the right people are doing the right things. My leadership style is non-confrontational, I’m quite relaxed which I think helps rubs off on the team and helps to avoid stress and create a positive team environment. But I don’t pass everything on – I still like to get stuff done myself.
Love best, love least about your job?
There’s very little I don’t like about my job - perhaps we could be less bureaucratic at times but there’s usually a good reason for the rules – often there to prove we’ve spent the money correctly. What I love most is the variety of things I get involved in – this week I’ve had meetings about a new financial ledger, how we can attract and recruit new staff recruitment and getting our VAT returns done for the month. I’ve presented the Annual Statement of Accounts to members and reported to the directors on where we are at on Covid spend too, we’ve spent an extra £145 million on top of our usual £400 million budget. £45m of this has been in getting out the Government grants to help support businesses manage through the pandemic – it’s been a really busy time for us.
Qualifications? University or apprenticeship or special skills?
I’ve come straight from school and have enjoyed all the learning from colleagues while working and the day release to college to get my accountancy qualifications. It’s been like an apprenticeship with a mentor to guide and support me too. There are other different routes to becoming an accountant though - you can go down the university route and do a 3 year for your accountancy degree - then do your professional qualifications, via CIPFA, CIMA or ACCA.
There are special skills needed too. People skills are key, you really need to connect with people, people assume it’s all about excel spreadsheets and it just isn’t, it’s about bringing finance to life. Being able to present financial information in an interesting way to councillors for example is really important in my job.
Routine or variety?
It’s both. We are called the Financial Cycle team because there’s a strict cycle and timetable we need to deliver too, like setting the budgets, monitoring those and preparing the annual accounts, then the external audit process too.
So that’s the routine aspects however there’s load of variety too as ever year brings new challenges, this one especially with all the extra spend due to the pandemic. There’s all the work that’s needed to help members make choices on spending too – there’s always some tough choice to be made between competing demands for services and we hep by providing financial information.
Pay check or calling?
Yes, the pay check matters and that’s increased as I’ve been trained and promoted here, but that’s really not my main driver. I’m a resident of Solihull and proud to work for my council and be part of making a difference to local life.
Development support or DIY?
I’ve just finished a Grant Thornton Financial Management course that was five days spread over 6 weeks. I do lots of internal training too on all sorts of topics and I’m a big believer in everyone having a development plan in place based on their interests and the needs of the organisation. I sit down with my staff in one to ones to talk through their development and I do this with my manager too. You always keep learning and developing, my new area I’d like to develop is around project management – that would be a real strength to add that to my financial expertise.
Staying put or moving on?
With my new team (my new people in the Accounts Payable team) to manage I am staying put as I’ve plenty of challenges in this new role to keep me happy. But I’m ambitious and want to keep progressing up the ladder, ideally here but could be elsewhere.
Life lesson or specific career advice?
Try it out. If you don’t know if you could work in an office, do and work in an office to find out. And ask questions of your colleagues – they will always share information about their roles – don’t just assume you know what their jobs involve. No question is too stupid.
The best thing about working for the Council is…. being part of a 2000 plus team - a really ambitious organisation that’s well led and makes things happen on the ground, knowing that I’ve helped make those things happen.
Adam, is an #EverydayHero, working to change and make better the lives of others and you can be an #EverydayHero too. Click here to find roles currently available within Finance.
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