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Finance conference Insight: The role of the finance director is changing

Motor retail finance directors and senior managers packed into the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, in November for the AM Financial Management conference, sponsored by Grant Thornton.

Delegates heard best practice tips for maintaining and building on the profitability of their business, analysis of trends in finance sales and consumer spending, and guidance on managing business change.

Tomorrow’s finance director
Robert Forrester
Former finance director and managing director, Reg Vardy

The role of the finance director is one of control, according to Robert Forrester. Control of policy and procedures, control of processes and information, control of people and, most importantly, control of the numbers.

“If you have the best people, processes and systems, you can make fortunes in this sector,” he says.

Forrester says dealer groups will benefit from implementation of a single dealer management system across the business, and even outsourcing their IT provision. He encourages use of processes in aftersales, such as CRM contact centres, electronic swiping to measure technician efficiency and automatic invoicing of fleets, and electronic stock management for used cars.

Forrester believes the finance team must take responsibility for all information generated in the business, and ensure it is relevant, reliable and consistent. It must be focused on stringent cost control at all times, make war on waste, and control the procurement process.

The real differentiator of a good FD is the ability to make their CEO go ‘wow’. Forrester says he set the target of achieving this weekly, identifying opportunities for cost control and revenue growth.

“Revenue is as important as cost. No-one ever developed a business through cost cutting,” he says.

Spotting growth in target market segments, such as the family and women, can put the business in a very strong position.

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