My job title, I often think, likens me to the Fat Controller who manages the comings and goings of all the trains in the Thomas the Tank Engine series. And to be fair, there are some similarities!
An important part of my role involves overseeing all monies coming in and going out of e2e. As a salvage and automotive recycling network we have monies coming in from, and going out to, both our clients and our network members. We handle many thousands of transactions on a monthly basis and naturally absolute attention to detail, cash flow and credit control management is crucial, to ensure everyone receives monies due within our established service level agreements. Transaction calculations vary according to the commercial arrangements we have in place with clients who receive money for their salvage based on agreed payment models tailored to their business preferences. We also provide added value services to clients as needed, these might include for example engineering services, recovery & storage challenges, finance settlement service, emergency roadside recovery and more. Clients are invoiced monthly against their take up of any of these additional services. And our network members too receive monthly invoices for their levies.
So, as you can see, there’s a lot to control! And absolute attention to detail, professional processes and strong governance is crucial and underpins the success of the network. Reporting forms a big part of our process and commitment to transparency. Our clients get a monthly report detailing all the vehicles we have handled for them and the associated charges and our network members get a monthly report detailing all the vehicles they have received from us and the associated charges. Internal reconciliation takes place every month to produce month end profit and loss accounts for our finance meeting and this process provides for internal checks and balances, immediately identifying any potential anomalies. End of year financial accounting is an intense period, as anyone involved in financial control will tell you, and we apply rigour and due diligence to the process, which includes a year-end audit by our accountants. In 2019, we determined that to demonstrate the scale of our network, it would be valuable to also produce a set of aggregated member accounts. We worked with financial consultants and accountants to create a template for this additional report which we now prepare annually. VAT too requires and receives ongoing attention, ensuring that we are fully up to date and prepared for any intermittent HMRC audits.
Before I joined e2e, fifteen years ago, I knew nothing about salvage. I had worked as a management and financial accountant for companies in the retail sector: Magnet Kitchens and Peters Cathedral Bakery. On returning to my career, after a break to raise my children, I joined e2e with a remit to improve efficiency in bank reconciliations and update the sage accounting system. My role has grown exponentially since then and I find it hugely rewarding to spend valuable time developing and interrogating our budgets and projections and comparing them to what has actually happened – digging into how and why things might have changed month by month. That has never been truer than during the year of Covid. We deployed dynamic finance management throughout, recognising that making assumptions would be foolhardy in such a fluid environment. We stripped our figures back to basics and built from there, giving us an opportunity to look at how we could embrace the pandemic driven changes facing our industry and our clients and identify ways to innovate. Finance and operations are completely joined up at e2e and I love the fact that we translate the stories behind our figures into strategic and operational insights which are taken and applied across the business. This supports and informs decision making, helps to keep our people and network members up to date with developments and fuels our commitment to continual improvement.
When I’m not interrogating figures, grappling with spread sheets and controlling finances, I can be found out on a hill, a pavement or a track – running solo and more recently back with my running club. Running is a great switch off for me and I enjoy the opportunity it provides to clear my head or enjoy a good, if slightly breathless catch up with friends. I love a long-distance challenge and I hope to complete my fifth Great North Run in 2021, Covid permitting, fund raising for the Rainbow Trust. I am renowned for being more than a little accident prone having broken both my ankles, albeit thankfully on separate occasions. Once playing tennis on my Wii Fit a few years back and more recently running an evening race 18 months ago when I went head over heels whilst running down a hill on the trail. Fingers crossed, all being well, training for this year will be uneventful!
Gillian Johnson – Financial Controller