Finance Director Interview – Paul Stout, Americana International Ltd

January 8th 2014 | Posted by phil scott

Paul Stout, Group Finance Director, Americana International Ltd

How did you get where you are today?

Ever since moving into the finance industry, I have been interested in becoming a finance director, although the opportunity came about very quickly.

I did the normal three qualification years at Deloitte, and unlike most of my peers who left at this stage, I decided to carry on within Deloitte and ended up being there for ten years overall. I found working for one of the Big Four to be invaluable, for the knowledge and experience I gained and the network you build.

The opportunity at Americana came as I was approaching the end of an interview process for partnership at another accounting firm.  Before that process was finalised, I was contacted by one of my clients who asked if I wanted to join them as the FD.

The timing was perfect and the client, Americana International, was a great fit for me. I made the move and I’m still there today, four years on.

In 2012 we were awarded the finance team of the year at the North West Finance Awards, and in 2013 I was named young finance director of the year.


What does your job entail?

I was always drawn to the FD role as I knew I could do the technical aspects of finance, but I really enjoy working with people, both within and outside of the finance department and the company.

I’m good at the techy side, which for an FD should be a given, but my enjoyment comes from working in teams, making decisions and taking on the responsibility, then achieving success for both the company and staff. That’s the side of work I most look forward to.

This company really suits me as it’s young and ambitious. We sell young branded clothing and so the people around me all have a similar attitude and outlook.

We are a private equity backed company and are currently going through a sale process. Given the market, this brings another aspect to role that has its challenges and will bring a new dynamic to the company once the process is concluded.

It’s an interesting, challenging and complex time for us.


What makes a great FD?

I think that a great FD has to be a great listener, who can then form their own opinion and take responsibility for their decision.  They need to be commercial, strategic and add value.

Things like control and understanding of the numbers, an ability to safeguard assets and produce reliable information should all be a given. All FDs should have that.

It is the softer skills that make a difference. A great FD should also have the ability to build a team around you; one that trusts and has faith in you.

What do you enjoy outside of work?

As I work indoors, I try to spend as much of my free time as I can outdoors to unwind. I like golf, swimming, skiing and going on holidays, and I have recently begun sailing.

However, I also have two young girls, so when I’m not working, I’m spending most of my time at swimming lessons, ballet classes or playing Barbies.

Who or what inspires you?

I wouldn’t say that one particular person or thing inspires me. I don’t think there is one person out there that has got it all right; however aspects of different people can be inspiring.

Within work, I am motivated by the people around me. When everyone is doing well, happy and successful, I feel like I am succeeding. I’m inspired to do better by their success.