Yorkshire finance chiefs to take centre stage at the FD awards

Judges for the the Yorkshire Finance Director of the Year at Walker Morris, Leeds, Back left to right Cliff Sewell, Marc Langford, front David Leyssens and Debbie Jackson...20th September 2017 ..Picture by Simon Hulme
Judges for the the Yorkshire Finance Director of the Year at Walker Morris, Leeds, Back left to right Cliff Sewell, Marc Langford, front David Leyssens and Debbie Jackson...20th September 2017 ..Picture by Simon Hulme
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THE founder of the Yorkshire Finance Director Awards said this year’s crop of candidates was the best he had seen since launching the programme 15 years ago.

Cliff Sewell, managing director of VRS, and fellow judges from accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP, insurance brokerage Lockton Companies and law firm Walker Morris conducted dozens of interviews with the region’s brightest and best FDs.

Mr Sewell said: “A huge proportion of the finalists were of the highest calibre we have ever met, not just the eventual winners. It was a difficult but enjoyable judging debate.”

All the finalists will be named at the awards ceremony in Leeds on October 11 with headline speaker Garry Wilson, the co-founder of Endless LLP, one of Britain’s most successful mid-market private equity firms.

The Yorkshire Post is media partner for the event, which will be hosted by Bernard Ginns, director of communications advisory firm Branksome Partners Ltd.

The categories cover FDs working in private companies with a turnover less than £50m, private equity companies, plcs, non-plcs with a turnover above £50m, the public sector and international businesses.

There will also be awards for best contribution to Yorkshire and outstanding achievement.

To attend, please contact Lauren Hilton on 07587 034586 or email lauren.Hilton@vrslife.com

Readers can follow the progress of this year’s activities on Twitter at #YFDA17.

The sponsors who attended the judging session were Debbie Jackson of Walker Morris, Cliff Sewell of VRS

Mark Langford of BDO and David Leyssens of Lockton Companies.

They might be more used to their chief executives taking centre stage, but Yorkshire’s talented finance directors are essential to the success of their employers.

The Yorkshire Finance Director Awards have shone a light on the achievements of these men and women.

Past winners include FDs who have brought discipline to entrepreneurial exploits, applied sound financial judgment to complex operations or handled tough situations in a tactful and sensitive way.

Andrew Merrick was named best FD of a publicly limited company in 2009 for his work alongside Philip Meeson, the founder and executive chairman of leisure travel, distribution and logistics giant Dart Group plc.

Sean Christie won praise in 2010 for his role at Croda International, the FTSE 100 speciality chemicals company which supplies essential ingredients and technologies to some of the biggest brands in the world.

Darren Fisher picked up the outstanding achievement award in 2016 for his positive and responsible approach to the politically difficult wind-down of UK Coal’s operations in mining communities.

Other past winners include Jane Madeley, chief financial officer at the University of Leeds, Andy Finneran, the former FD at R&R Ice Cream and Victoria Woodings, the newly promoted CEO at global brand implementation specialist Principle.

Paul Davies, head of audit at BDO Leeds, said: “The finance director role is constantly evolving, today’s FDs must invest time to build three additional key skills; strategic awareness, commerciality and strong leadership.

“Many of the candidates that we have interviewed during this year’s process have demonstrated these skills within their organisations, contributing to the continued success of businesses in our region.”

Kelvin Chadwick, senior vice president at Lockton, added: “An FD has the responsibility of being the cautious guardian of the company’s assets, along with keeping an eye on costs and making sure cash flow is in good shape.

“There’s a responsibility on an FD to be the company’s moral compass. A good FD can combine excellent analytical skills and intuition; above all honesty and integrity are vital.”

Cliff Sewell, managing director of VRS Executive and founder of the awards, said: “The modern FD is now a leader in many organisations.

“They need to be able to offer control and stability within the business but now need to also be an outward-looking director dealing with a range of external contacts from professional advisors through to customers. And with a number of 2017 candidates this is clearly an area of the role they are excelling at.”

Richard Naish, partner at Walker Morris, concluded: “Great financial analysis is not enough on its own; today’s most successful FDs are key influencers in setting the strategic direction of a business.

“They are great communicators who must develop strong relationships with other senior managers, as well as the wider business. Only then will they have the foundation on which they can consider opportunities, understand risk and be pivotal in success.”

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