I attended a few sessions of the Staffing Industry Analysts Executive Forum this week. I particularly enjoyed the panel session where 4 FD’s were talking about their approach to budget setting for 2015. I was somewhat proud too, as one of the FD’s was somebody Camino had recently placed. It was great to see him give a good account of himself and his contribution to the business.
There were some fascinating insights into how finance interacts with the business, its role in resource allocation and the interaction between margins, client payment terms and return on capital employed. One FD in particular was particularly eloquent in demonstrating how his company focuses on profitability rather than revenue, and how their consultants fully understand the return on capital of each deal they do. The importance of effective credit control in recruitment was also stressed, particularly for growth businesses with international operations. Camino would echo this and has seen a growing demand for experienced credit controllers and credit managers.
Two great questions from the floor set me thinking. One MD described herself and her FD as the “Yin and Yang” of recruitment in their approach to credit management. When a client is slow to pay, should they get a firm letter from the FD, or a more friendly call from the sales team? A great question and the answer would depend on company style and culture. A best practice answer from a commercial and analytical FD said the approach would be decided after reviewing the profitability and potential of that client to the business. APSCo’s Ann Swain, who was moderating the session in her own inimitable style, concluded that a customer is not a customer until they’ve paid!
A second question, from a respected marketing manager in the sector, asked the FD’s about their marketing budgets in relation to their turnover. Whilst nobody wanted (or was able?) to disclose their marketing spend in money or as a percentage of turnover, all 4 FD’s suggested that marketing spend was either increasing, or being redirected.
Having spent the morning in the company of FD’s, I spent lunch and the afternoon in the company of some great marketing people, thanks to Tracey Barrett of Blue Sky. I won’t steal Tracey’s thunder, and in any event, Chatham House rules apply to our conversation. What did strike me though, is how passionate the marketing people are about branding and differentiating their respective businesses, and how marketing is increasingly a business focused necessity, rather than a nice to have.
The recruitment sector is currently in great shape. With such good FD’s and Marketing people all pulling together for the benefit of the business, we can only go from strength to strength.