Andy Finn

Andy has been Finance Director at Construction firm, AmcoGiffen since June 2019. Big Four trained and ACA qualified, he has broad experience covering group and commercial finance roles in plc, private equity and owner managed environments.

Jan 28, 2021
CFO Interviews

We have known Andy for a number of years and were delighted to have placed him in his previous Finance Director role at Lexia Solutions and to help find staff for him more recently at Amco Giffen in his new role.  

Andy is one of the region’s most successful Finance Directors. He has significant experience of leading organisational change and growth and is able to recruit, retain and develop talented people.

He is passionate about finance, getting involved in the business and building good working relationships with its people. Above all, he is open and straightforward and encourages his teams to work hard, do a great job and enjoy themselves in the process.

Andy has had a varied career, starting with EY in the late 1980s. His experience covers a variety of sectors ranging from a FTSE 250 financial services business to a Premier League football club. For the last 15 years, he has worked in the construction industry, for both privately owned and AIM listed businesses. He has also previously been a Governor at Leeds College of Building and Chair of its Audit Committee.

What made you decide to choose a career in accounting?

I read History at University because I enjoyed the subject and chose accountancy as stepping-stone to a career in business. What that would be at the time I wasn’t really sure. In the end, I stayed at EY for 10 years because the profession provided a wide variety of experience. In addition to audit, this included spells in tax, corporate finance, working on a couple of high profile insolvencies and even preparing the accounts for a now famous TV presenter.

There were also some great opportunities too, with secondments to both Amsterdam, for a short period before I qualified, and to Australia for 18 months as part of the firm’s international exchange programme.

What makes you different from other Finance Directors and makes you stand out?

I don’t really think of myself as standing out. I view myself as one of the directors that work together as part of the Board rather than the Finance Director. I create trust by being authentic, keeping my word and showing my values.

I firmly believe that teams need to collaborate well and enjoy working together in order to perform. Consequently, I strive to create an engaging and motivated environment, attractive career paths and empower people to drive a company’s success.

Finance functions needed to move beyond just focussing on historic transaction processing and more towards analysing financial performance and providing business insight. Business support functions should be presenting ideas, challenging the status quo and debating issues and opportunities to support improved performance and growth. These attributes are key to effective cross-functional collaboration within complex operational businesses.

What have been some of the biggest challenges and successes in your career so far?

Challenges

I guess most of us would say running a business in 2020 and adapting to the changes COVID-19 has brought. At AmcoGiffen we deliver essential services that support the UK’s critical infrastructure, mainly to the rail sector, so thankfully we have been protected from some of the issues facing businesses in other sectors.

There have been many other challenges over the years covering a multitude of different issues – cash shortfalls, working with difficult people, dealing with poorly implemented systems I inherited, commercial reporting not agreeing to the core ledgers. One example was the need to improve management information and restructure the Finance team to respond to the needs of the business after a three year period without a Finance Director. When I joined, there had been no consolidated balance sheet and cash flow reporting to the bank for over 12 months. I quickly established a good working rapport with the new Relationship Director at the bank and committed to providing the missing information within three months.

Successes

It’s really rewarding to help develop great teams and leave these as your legacy when you move on. I think I’ve achieved this a couple of times in my career to date.

More specifically during my time at ISG, following the collapse of Rok we were unable to agree a price with the Administrator to acquire its Scottish operation but instead established a good rapport with the leadership team such that we employed them to start a new Scottish business from scratch. I managed stakeholder relations during this period, setting up new contracts with the key customer. We moved from a standing start to a £40m order book within three weeks.

What advice would you give to young accountants starting out their career?

Set yourself some short and medium term career goals and review them regularly. Try and find a mentor in your organisation that can help you. Be inquisitive and challenging, push for opportunities that stretch you and put you outside your comfort zone. Don’t worry about being slightly afraid of the challenge. Be prepared to make mistakes and learn from them. Make time for networking – it’s not something that came naturally to me but is important as your career progresses.

Above all try and do what makes you happy and that you enjoy (most of the time). If you feel like you’re making a positive difference that helps too.

If you weren’t an accountant what would your dream job be?

Running a second-hand record and book shop. I’m an avid vinyl collector and have spent more hours than I care to admit crate digging for that elusive copy in shops round the world. Thankfully my wife is more sympathetic than Rob Fleming’s girlfriend in High Fidelity!

A few years ago, I bought a 1960s AMI jukebox to listen to which competes with Spotify at home.

If you were stuck on a desert island with 3 other people, who would they be and why?

Nico – her stories would be fascinating

Colin Bateman – hopefully he’d be as good company as his books have been to me over the last 25 years

Salvador Dali – it would be surreal…

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