- Specialism: Finance & Accountancy
- Sector: Commerce & Industry
- Roles: Permanent
- Location: Manchester
Type a day in the life of sellick from Sam Sullivan
Roles in fintech are growing, and recently we have seen a massive increase in the number of Finance & Accountancy professionals utilising their skills and entering this growing sector. In this article, Nicholas Harding, CEO of peer-to-peer lending platform Lending Works, offers his advice for people with financial backgrounds who may want to transition over to fintech or secure a role in this growing sector. The fintech industry in the UK is booming, generating an estimated annual turnover of £20 billion (IG) and creating many new, exciting jobs. So, it is no surprise that so many people aspire to work in fintech, whether they are soon-to-be graduates or have been working in other areas for a long time. In this new industry, you will need a range of hard and soft skills, which you may have already acquired if you started your career in finance. Below, I will take you through just a few of the skills that makes people with financial backgrounds so desirable in this industry. Financial knowledge You do not necessarily have to be an expert in technology to do well in fintech. What you may find, is that employers are more interested in your financial knowledge, because you can provide insight into areas that could be improved by technology. You can also advise them of regulations and other limitations they will need to be aware of. You will likely have experience using finance-specific tools and technology to complete your daily tasks, whether that is Excel or a custom-built accounting software. Having a comprehensive understanding of these tools can give you a competitive advantage over other candidates, especially if you can come up with ideas for how they can be improved or used for other purposes. Hard skills Hard skills are the talent and expertise you acquire through training or experience that allow you to perform well in a certain job. They are usually easy to prove by earning certificates, such as degrees or diplomas as evidence of a formal education. But hard skills also include things like additional languages and computer literacy. One of the key hard skills finance workers pick up in the industry is data analysis. Fintech roles are usually very figure-driven, so having a strong data analysis aptitude will allow you to better use numbers to make business decisions. Financial reporting and forecasting are also important traits to have — plus, as there has been a shortage of candidates with this skill in recent years (Jobsite), it will make you more desirable. Your role in finance should provide you with plenty of opportunities to practice developing the right hard skills, but you could consider looking into online courses or asking your employer to recommend some to hone your knowledge. Some can take a few years to complete, such as accountancy qualifications, but they will provide you with concrete evidence of your capability. Soft skills Do not forget that the ideal candidate also needs to have excellent soft skills, which are things like communication, networking, creative thinking, and time management — these are equally important in any role. Make sure you jump at every opportunity to exercise these whilst you are working in finance by volunteering to attend industry events and getting involved in optional projects. It can also help to perform regular skills gap analysis. These are usually done employer-to-employee, but you can conduct one yourself to identify which areas you need to work on. For example, if you have had less experience putting together professional graphs or struggle to produce cleanly formatted charts, you can focus on developing your design skills. Frequently undergoing skills gap analysis and topping up your experience can help you become a more well-rounded and versatile employee. When you decide to move on to fintech, it is also important to highlight any project management experience you may have picked up that can give you even more of an edge compared to other candidates, as these leadership skills are just as important as they are in other industries. These are just some of the ways a career in finance can prepare you for a new role in fintech. From useful hard skills to crucial soft skills, there are plenty of transferable talents for you to acquire by working in the financial industry. Can we help? If you are looking for your next vacancy, or are interested in joining a leading fintech firm, please get in touch, we would be more than happy to help.
This year International Women’s Day is spreading the message #EachforEqual and is looking at how “we can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements”. This is a great message and something I feel is hugely important today, especially within the finance and accountancy sector which I predominantly recruit for. Finance has been associated as a very male dominated sector for a long time, but more recently female finance professionals are proving that anyone can reach the top and succeed in this highly rewarding sector. I work with a number of strong female professionals across my NHS client base, many of whom are striving to make the sector a more diverse and inclusive place to work. I recently sat down with Beth Fleming, Head of Strategy, Planning and Partnerships at Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust and HFMA Chair, to find out about her career and to get her thoughts on what it takes to be a success within public sector finance. Can you tell me about your career and experience to date? This year is my 30th anniversary of working within the NHS after joining in 1990. I started as an Internal Auditor for North Derbyshire Health Authority and, after nine months, was successful in being accepted onto the Graduate Regional Finance Trainee scheme. I qualified as a CIPFA accountant in 1996 which was one of the proudest moments of my life to date. I then worked my way up the career ladder in various roles across the NHS and in 2013, I became deputy CFO for NHS Hardwick CCG. In 2016, I was approached by my now manager in Derbyshire Health Service NHS FT to see if I would be interested in taking a role which was more strategic, whilst maintaining a financial link through contracting, income and commercial development, which I gladly accepted. I have also become responsible for the procurement team whilst in post. I am now in my fourth year in this role and absolutely loving it. I have the opportunity to challenge myself every day and stretch my knowledge which is so important to me as a female finance professional. What motivates you to be successful? I have two daughters and I want them to see how important it is to have a fulfilling career and a voice in society. It doesn’t matter to me what they do as long as they do it to the best of their ability and they are happy, fulfilled and kind to people along the way. The NHS has always been an exceptional employer to me and I feel that I owe it to them to be the best that I can possibly be, and I hope my two children grow up to have the same mentality wherever they end up working. As a manager I am also incredibly motivated to see my team developing. I absolutely love how supportive we all are of each other, which means we get to try new things and work together towards a common goal. This is hugely important in any environment, especially one as stressful as public sector finance. No two days are the same within the NHS – which I wouldn’t change for the world – but you need a solid team that you trust around you in order to get the work done and really make a difference. As a woman working in the NHS and finance industry, have you ever faced any discrimination or felt you had fewer opportunities? NHS finance is traditionally a male dominated environment – as is the finance and accountancy sector in general – especially when looking at it at a senior level. In 2017, just 28 percent were women and women are still largely under-represented at bands 8c and above, although they account for 61 percent of the workforce overall. I know this is something the NHS is working towards addressing, and we have made huge strides in recent years, but I do believe more needs to be done to balance everything out. The HFMA works hard to understand this dynamic and puts programmes in place to support women and people in ethnic minorities to be successful. The East Midlands Branch of the HFMA recognises this and, at our recent conference, invited Sandra Easton, Director of Operational Finance and Performance of NHSI/E, to present on “Diversity in NHS Finance”. This was a fantastic opportunity to hear from someone incredibly passionate about EDI and gave us lots to think about as to what we can do to support more women and minorities into roles across the NHS. It is also great to see support mechanisms being introduced across all sectors to support more woman working towards senior leadership roles. The NHS leadership academy is a great example of this. The NHS leadership academy actively promotes strong female role models from within the NHS and offers the support that leaders need to achieve their ambitions. Although this is open to everyone, they do have a specific focus on helping women and minorities, which I think is admirable. How does it feel to be appointed as East Midlands HFMA Branch Chair? It is an honour to be appointed. It is also amazing to see so many women represented across HFMA. I recently attended a national HFMA Branch Chair's meeting and six out of the seven new chairs were women. A fantastic achievement! Is there anything you want to achieve as East Midlands HFMA Branch Chair? I would like to develop an HFMA ‘champion’ in every organisation within the boundaries of the branch, much like the Future Focused Finance (FFF) value makers. I would like to see a nominated member of each finance or procurement team who could take responsibility for becoming HFMA members, sharing HFMA news bulletins, encouraging team members to attend events and generally spread the news of this valuable resource within our health communities. I would also like to develop the nascent relationship between FFF and the Skills Development Network (SDN) so that our vision and objectives are shared between the three bodies and within the wider community. What advice do you have for women looking at your success and wanting to achieve the same? Work hard, use the resources available to you through your employer, professional accountancy body or HFMA and ensure you build and motivate a successful team around you. There is a wealth of support out there to help you achieve your career aims, and if you ask for help, and use what is available I’m sure you will achieve great success. Can we help you? If you are looking for a finance opportunity within the NHS or would like advice on how you can build a successful career, get in touch. We would be delighted to help. Alternatively, you can browse our latest NHS jobs or check out or dedicated Candidate Resources section to help you with your next career move.
Earlier this month the government finally announced plans for a review of the proposed IR35 reforms that are due to hit the private sector in April this year, however the news has been met with very mixed responses. With a little over two months to go before the reforms are implemented we are still unsure as to the true impact they will have, and it is unlikely that this review in its current form will alleviate the worries of our contractor, candidate and client base. The timing of the review is wrong. A thorough independent review that will look at the issues that have been raised, consult the market and detail amendments simply cannot happen in the short time left until the planned implementation date. I therefore worry that the government will use this ‘review’ as an obligatory pre-election promise and will not look closely enough at the implications this will have on the contractor market across the UK. I am also concerned that the basis of the review isn’t right. In late November, campaigning for Tory votes, Chancellor Sajid Javid said that he wanted to “look again at the proposed changes to IR35 to make sure that they are right to take forward”. Now, however, it looks as if the review will probe the reforms’ implementation, not the reform as a whole which is a mistake in my opinion. At our IR35 briefing event in November last year, we heard the concerns of contractors first-hand, and many of the same worries still stand and are unlikely to be solved unless the implementation date is delayed, and a more thorough review is launched. They raised concerns such as businesses not being ready for the changes, a lack of client understanding and a blanket ban on limited contractors by many clients across all sectors. Another issue that the review will likely skim over is the impact on ethical behaviour across the contractor market, something that is hugely important in my opinion. In a recent Recruiter article, Neil Carberry, CEO of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said: “Pushing ahead with an approach to taxing contractors that is not fit-for-purpose will punish ethical businesses, incentivise non-compliance and harm workers. I wholeheartedly agree with this comment, and it is becoming an even bigger worry for me and my team. If this review is going to work, it must consider monitoring and regulating non-compliant umbrella companies. We have a list of preferred umbrella companies for a reason. Each one is vetted to ensure that our contractors, our clients and we are protected as far as possible from both financial and criminal liability. The government also needs to look closely at the mistakes that were made in the public sector roll out. A lack of communication, panic and timing all culminated in several key issues and many contractors are still feeling the adverse effects as a result. The government needs to learn from these mistakes, and at least adopt a phased approach to the private sector roll out and offer some clarity to businesses around what the implications will be for them. My worry is that there is a similar feeling of panic and unrest with the current plans, and there are a number of extremes across the market. On one hand some clients are panicking and putting a blanket ban on contractors stating that they will only work with temporary staff through PAYE, with others using this review as another excuse to delay their plans, something that we have been advising them not to do. Organisations and contractors need to be doing all they can to prepare and seek advice from recruitment professionals like Sellick Partnership. Finally, the review needs ample time to consult the market and appease any concerns businesses, contractors and recruiters have about the roll out, and I don’t believe that is the case. For a thorough, independent review to take place the reforms will have to be delayed giving everyone time to prepare. Without these preparations, and a decent consultation process, we are in danger of heading for the same mistakes and challenges we faced in 2017, which would be very damaging for the private sector contractor market. If you are worried about IR35, or would like some advice, head over to the dedicated section of our website. Alternatively, you can get in touch with myself, or a member of my team and we will be more than happy to help.