Sunday 20 October 2013

What does the expression "Part Time" mean to you?

First published November 2012

 "What does the expression “Part Time” mean to you? Working in an industry, it’s easy to assume that everybody understands the colloquialisms or expressions that are familiar to insiders & how many industries have been handicapped by an assumption that their customers understand the basics behind the name. Subscribers to this forum undoubtedly understand the meaning of the word BLOG, but to a whole generation the word is almost completely meaningless. So what would they make of a person who is described as a blogger? 

So what does the expression “Part Time” mean to you? Maybe a mum returning to work? Or a person looking for an easy life, leading up to, or maybe post, retirement? Or maybe a person who works full time, but for a number of different people or organisations – a sort of full time, part timer, if you will! All descriptions are surely true. 

So which is it, when you see a person described as a Part Time Finance Director? Well, it could be a mum returning to work, employed for 3 or 4 days a week for one organisation & it could also be someone at or around retirement, looking for an easy life. But these days, it is more likely to be a full time FD, working part time for a portfolio of clients. The advantages to the client are many and varied. They have access to a mature, experienced, commercial FD at a fraction of the cost of employing a full time person. Most clients will already have an established accounting function and are likely to already employ a bookkeeper and/or an accountant, possibly on a part time basis. But until they came across the concept of a portfolio part time FD, the client probably thought that they couldn’t afford their own Finance Director. And as most portfolio part time FD’s operate via their own limited company, the client is also absolved from the costs of employers NI, pensions, sick benefits, holiday leave, maternity/paternity leave and company cars. 

And what is the difference between a part time FD and an interim FD? An interim tends to work full time for one client for a period of time – often to cover for maternity or to assist a client over a major project or increase in workflow. Assignments might be a number of weeks or a number of months, but after the assignment is completed, the interim FD moves on. A portfolio part time FD, on the other hand, will work for a number of clients at the same time and assignments will tend to last for many months, often years. 

So what does a portfolio part time FD actually do? In simple terms, everything that a strategic full time FD does, but on a part time basis. Staff supervision and mentoring – often including HR, IT, purchasing, pricing and other admin functions. Risk and compliance. Cash flow management. Internal controls, KPI’s and reporting. Budgets and business plans. Relationship management with bankers, auditors, shareholders and other stakeholders. Raising finance. Mergers, acquisitions and other significant projects. Exit planning. 

These days, many experienced part time FD’s are members of a group, whereby they can share skills, experiences and resources calling on colleagues to assist as the need arises. Maybe it’s an expert on Sage, a colleague with experience with buying groups, a franchise expert or maybe a colleague with experience within the angel investor market. And how many full time FD’s can say that!"

Bob Drew is a Commercial FD with over 30 years’ experience in business. Having bought several businesses & sold a few, Bob has lived through a significant Exit when a large family business was sold to a private equity firm. The above Tips are borne of experience – they are not lifted from a text book.

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