What are the main functions of your role?
My role is quite varied, but in a nutshell, it involves establishing the financial framework, processes and controls to support all the bank’s financial reporting and operational obligations. So, for example, working with the Commercial team to understand how we are supporting them to disburse funds quickly and deal with customer payments, or working with the Treasurer to establish back-office processes for daily liquidity and balance sheet management transactions. It’s very fast-paced and you’ve not got to be afraid to roll your sleeves up to move things forward, but it is really exciting to be here at the start of the bank’s journey to be able to look across the whole business and understand how everything fits together.
How important for the future of B-North is establishing strong systems and processes ahead of licensing?
Sound financial controls are critical for all businesses and banks are no different. Indeed, there is a significant amount of regulatory scrutiny for banks, so it is vitally important we set up our processes to be right the first time and we minimise the chance of mistakes. In the past, there have been numerous examples in the press of banks getting things wrong – be that mistakes in regulatory reporting, or errors that have resulted in the need for customer remediation. System controls, reconciliations and four-eye checks will be a fundamental part of our daily operating model. In addition, we will ensure effective oversight of the whole balance sheet, by developing insightful, timely and accurate management reporting to the Board and other Executive Committees across the bank, and importantly, ensure that there is only ‘one version of the truth’ across the organisation.
How does developing processes on a ‘blank canvas’ at a new bank compare to working around existing structures at an established lender?
The exciting thing about working in a start-up is that we are setting a lot of the processes up from scratch using market-leading systems, rather than having to deal with clunky, legacy systems and manual processes that exist in most other established banks. Many of our conversations centre around how we can do things better, faster and with more automation, under the overarching objective of maintaining good governance and control. Everyone in the organisation wants to exceed our customer’s expectations by doing the right thing, and there is a wealth of experience in the B-North leadership team, both in terms of what works well in other organisations and what could be better. It really is an exceptional team.
How important is it for SME’s to work with their internal finance teams rather than seeing them as a hindrance?
In Finance we are very lucky to be able to see the overall financial picture of the organisation and so it is vitally important that we use this knowledge to its best advantage and drive the best value for the organisation. Throughout my career, I have always striven for Finance to be seen as a trusted advisor across the business, really fulfilling the role of a true business partner. Building the respect of the business is key, knowing what is going on in the different business areas and being able to add value by providing straightforward financial analysis, project financial benefits, identify process improvements or opportunities to make cost efficiencies. It’s about being what I like to call a ‘critical friend’ – not always just saying yes or no, but not being afraid to challenge the status quo and make suggestions to drive financial performance. For me, being able to support the business on all financial matters is just as important as ensuring the day-to-day financial transactions and reconciliations take place.
Outside of work, how do you like to spend your spare time?
Outside of work, I’m married with two teenage boys who keep me very busy. They both swim competitively, so you can usually find me or my husband sat poolside early mornings and evenings most days. I love gardening and I am at my happiest pottering around outside. We have quite a big garden and the previous owners really neglected it, so it has been a major project to try and get it sorted. I also love walking and often drag the boys up on Ilkley Moor at the weekends, which we can walk to from our house; it’s really beautiful up ther