Flashcards in Interview Prep Deck (8)
Business partnering with two separate senior business leaders (Commercial U.K., Shop Media) to provide them with relevant financial information in a timely manner to support the decision making of their units; (UK MD and Marketing)
I found important insights that led to a 10% increase in auction revenue. Partnered with GM and senior specialists of World Art for Christie's. March 2016 Southeast Asian Art auction performed very badly. No FBP had done this previously and I was under time pressure, but I took the initiative to put the pieces into categories and compare to the competition. I drew out the strategic recommendation quickly. I highlighted the fact that Himalayan paintings were selling well among collectors and institutions. They took my recommendation and during the next auction season, there was an improvement of 10% (from 3.6-nearly 4M). Right a lot - some resistance as they were used to a management accountant but I knew I would get to the heart of the matter and would be able to provide good advice.
Provide high-quality focused performance analysis of the P&L, Cash Flows and other key operational performance indicators at global level in order to anticipate and monitor financial performance;
I partnered with the marketing senior brand director of Aquafresh toothpaste at GSK to obtain sign-off of a new product launch, generating £1.5M of incremental sales and resulting in Aquafresh exceeding their budget target (£90M turnover portfolio, Aquafresh big part). We met as a cross-functional team (marketing, sales, and finance) and I suggested that we gather information from business intelligence, the demand planning team, and asked the sales & marketing guys for their assumptions on uplift. I built a P&L around those assumptions and we refined it together. I presented the P&L to the finance director and GM of consumer health products while the brand director fielded questions, and the new product launch was approved. It slightly exceeded the projection by £300 K and generated £1.5M of incremental sales. The good result solidified my relationship with the marketing brand director. Bias for Action, Earn Trust, Deliver Results
Manage an effective budgeting and forecasting process;
I rolled out a streamlined forecasting process to my art group managers (dotted line reporting to me) to cover forecasting for 30-40 auctions across 7 departments, freeing up 3 days for me to spend more time reviewing and refining. The existing process involved the FBP entering the data for all of those auctions happening constantly after speaking with the 3 business managers based in Paris, New York, and London leaving little time to review and challenge the numbers. I had to implement something new and add a little bit to the business managers workload. We talked about the best way to handle the process and methodology (I would build and maintain a template, they would enter the numbers after speaking with specialists, we would then discuss at scheduled meetings). I rolled out the forecasting tool prior to the next auction which had to be done quickly (bias for action), which the three regional managers were able to use without my help. I then could challenge their assumptions based on interest in the lots/past performance, etc. and the forecast accuracy improved and time was saved. Invent & simplify, Insist on the Highest Standards
Provide support in financial evaluation of key projects/capital appraisal & supporting the Commercial teams with key negotiations with Retailers and Partners.
At Selfridge's, I partnered the project managers for 'Masterplan' which was the £300M capital investment in stores retail & non-retail (e.g. store moves for retail, electrical maintenance for non-retail). A big non-retail project, that would cost about £12M, was in its early stages. It was a project to replace the cabling that supported the in-store WIFI. I reviewed the business case, quickly got an understanding after working with the IT project managers, and revised it to make it more commercial. I drew out the commercial highlights such as the improved WIFI speed, the longer time until the next replacement, the reduced cost for engineer call-outs due to repairing the ageing cables. The meeting with the finance director went smoothly and the project was approved. The IT directors passed on positive feedback to my manager for the help I provided.
Develop commercially viable business cases that align with business objectives.
I convinced a senior specialist at Christie's not to do something that wasn't profitable against his objections, resulting in exceeding the books private sale target by over 2% (50K). The head of sale for the books department was known to be a tricky character. He was often skeptical about information given to him from finance. I'd discovered that certain types of valuation work he was involved in were not really profitable given the amount of time he would spend. He would spend weeks valuing the items for an estate sale for a small percentage commission, which might earn £100K. If he instead devoted time to 3 private sales which were on average £70K each of commission income, it would be more profitable for the company. I was nervous about presenting what I'd discovered to him. I made sure I knew my facts very well and calmly presented what I'd found to him. I resolved his objections by responding to all of them confidently and comprehensively. (Right a lot). At the end of the conversation we agreed. He took my recommendation on board. Earn Trust. Have backbone.
Sound financial and commercial mind-set and actively partner with functions outside of finance to focus on the business drivers, financial management and reporting. Professional in approach, establish credibility. VBA is a plus. ID Key Performance Drivers and translate them into KPIs. Excellent communication skills, business acumen, self motivation, strong relationship skills. Maintain relationships at every level.
-Liaise with Accounting to ensure the accuracy of the accruals based accounting
-Monthly closing and reporting, including variance analyses versus Budget and Prior Year
-Does Shop Media cover marketing to UK retailers? Is tax free shopping happening mostly in UK airports or elsewhere too (e.g. tax refund lounge at Selfridge's)? Does the UK shop media team have autonomy over how they spend their marketing budget?
-Commercial UK - all products, e.g. DCC, Tax Free Shopping, Market intelligence? How is pricing worked out when charging retailers for the service?
-How is Brexit affecting your company (working with public authorities on customs/taxes etc)? Is it a benefit?
-Which country's nationals apply for the most refunds? (e.g. Chinese, last year at Selfridge's they were biggest group) Does a startup like 'safety tax free' pose any threat?
-Are online sales really hurting duty free sales or is it actually not that significant?
-2017 revenue and profit?