Interview with an FD; Mark Williams

April 10th 2014 | Posted by phil scott

Mark Williams, Finance Director at Moneypenny, Williams, Finance Director at Moneypenny,

How did you get where you are today?

I struggled a bit at school and didn’t get great results in my exams but I found my niche when I went to university in Wolverhampton to study accountancy and finance. I chose the course as it offered a 15 month sandwich opportunity which I spent at De Vere Carden Park.

I went on to get a first and left to start a job which proved a baptism of fire – within six months my FD and manager both left and pretty soon the company went into administration!

The administrators kept me on and I worked on setting up forecasts for a CVA which has resulted in the company still being around 10 years on. I moved to a blue chip company but didn’t enjoy it as I went from making decisions to having to wait on them so when the Moneypenny, the UK’s leading telephone answering service, opportunity came up through a recruitment agency I grabbed it.

I was financial controller for four years reporting to the MD but with the company growing fast I joined the board as FD in 2009.

What does your job entail?

Mine is still a fairly hands-on role, probably more so than you would expect from a FD. There are five of us in the finance team – an accounts manager and three assistants – and between us we manage all areas of the finance function and I also take care of the facilities function within the company.

We are a fast growing business, operating here in the UK and in New Zealand, where we have Moneypenny Receptionists answering overnight calls for UK businesses during their daytime so I deal with the NZ authorities as well as our own for issues such as immigration and taxation.

With the time difference I can be making calls after midnight so my day job is a bit unusual in some ways. We are also in the process of designing a new home for Moneypenny so I am heavily involved in that at present.

It’s a varied job but most of all in a fast growing business it’s about keeping tight control of the purse strings and providing others in the business with the information they need to make good decisions.

What makes a great FD?

It’s vital to have an overall understanding of the business, not just the financial element. I learnt early on that every decision will result in either a monetary gain or spend so it’s about having your finger on the pulse.

Stay on top of everything. It is hard work to get decisions correct when you are behind so continually review your processes and procedures.

Moneypenny has grown tenfold in the eight years I have been here but through refining our practices the finance team has stayed the same.

Set high standards for your team and others to follow. If you take short cuts, others will do the same.

Never sit back in your comfort zone – keep learning and renewing.

What do you enjoy outside of work?

There is a bit of a theme developing here as I am also FD of Wrexham Football Club. I completed the finances and dealings with the FA and league for the takeover of the club into community ownership which was a great experience. I travel a lot with the club for international matches so get to some far flung places!

Who or what inspires you?

No-one and nothing in particular. I have learnt different things from different people as I have gone along. I have grown up to believe in the importance of working hard yourself to be the best you can be.