After Education at Kingswood School, Bath and Southlands College, Wimbledon I started a career as a Management Accountant, firstly with the P&O Group for 10 years, then as Chief Accountant or Finance Director in Freight Forwarding, Slazenger and Marine Engineering.
A move into Life Assurance with the General Accident Group as Head Office Finance Accountant followed. Here the need to install new computer systems precipitated a switch to Systems work, coinciding with the arrival of the first PCs in the UK and installing one of the first networks in the world.
Redundancy as the work moved out of London, indirectly resulted in an opportunity to establish a new company in Bristol. This unfortunately coincided with the Banking Crisis 1990 precipitating the next move.
Project Management opportunities arose and have become my main speciality. These have included, refurbishment of a Victoria Church, associated hall and new Link building, Railway Signalling System, Jet Engine for Military Aircraft, Installation of Accounting Systems, Y2K for national Government Body with offices throughout the UK, NHS National Spline Project, Procurement Project under OUJC rules for Local Authority. Whilst taking opportunities to slip back into more pure accountancy work during temporary breaks.
Formal qualifications include Membership of the Association for Project Management, University of Sheffield Diploma in Informatics, Membership of the Institute of Sound and Communications Engineers, Membership of Insitute of Profesional Sound, also Accounting and Teaching Qualifications.
Membership of the ISCE and IPS is explained by a lifelong interest in Electronics and Sound Engineering developing from a hobby into a small business hiring out and installing Sound (PA) systems.
My other main interests are as a youth leader, Officer in The Boys’ Brigade, and a Methodist Local Preacher.
My principle hobby is Amateur Raio, licensed as G8HKP, when I find time to get on the Air!
For sport I enjoy mountaineering, rock climbing and canoeing.
Culturally I have sung Tenor my whole adult life, currently being a member of Lucis, a choir in Bath.
I meet my wife Celia at College we have a married Daughter and two grandchildren.
Whilst the report and comment has highlighted the "technical way" the losses at Carillion occurred and the accounting devices used to hide the inevitable loss the real problem is much simpler - GREED!
The world - because it's not just a UK problem - has got to find a way of making it unacceptable for Directors of any Company to be paying themselves salaries / bonuses and other benefits at highly inflated eyewatering levels. If "reward" for doing a job was based on the work achieved rather than per cent of "profit" then there would not be this constant pressure to make every result "look good" and "better" than last year.
When I was in Management Accounting (for major international PLCs) I was taught to be cautious. We always estimated for the "worse case", thus were not "surprised" by the reality of the final invoice! Our management was not driven by greed in those days nor were they outsourcing everything or treating suppliers as a source of finance. Shareholders were happy, they got regular dividends and capital value increased.
Business needs to get back to a way of working with a degree of morality.
Audit firms certainly need to return to the principal of their role which is to act as "watchdogs" finding and reporting on any form of mal practice. Not colluding an and encouraging ways of avoiding tax.
They are either True or False!
But don't tell Conviviality Directors that!
I would question if any accountancy student should be taught on any particular "system".
I am old enough to have started my "bookkeeping" in days when the most advanced mechanised system was the NCR32. This enabled you to keep Customer Ledgers mechanically but did little to mechanise anything else. Certainly Trial Balance and beyond was by hand and brain!
However, such deprivation in my mechanical training proved invaluable when (15 years later) I was one of the first in the UK to use Lotus 123, and install Accounting Packages on the mainframe of one of the top 10 UK Companies. Because I was able to work out the result manually I could easily detect where the "system" was at fault.
OK, I studied and learnt "computing", mostly from the manuals which came with the program but also by attending the local College and learning to program (COBAL in those days). Much to the surprise of those in the Data Department who discovered that the Accountant could also do their job as well as sign cheques! Perhaps that's why I was also one of the first "Systems Accountants" in the UK?
When the first PC arrived on my desk (one of the first in the UK) the "Data Department" did not want to know and when I then also installed the first Network (again one of the first 10 in London!) I had well exceeded their remit and experience!
Years latter I have survived many versions of DOS, Windows, networks and now the Cloud. Installed a number of different Accounting Programs on all types of Platform, switched to Excel and survived its various incarnations. Also learnt and used to expert level several other applications doing various tasks well outside the reals of accountancy including CAD, PowerPoint, Photoshop, Music, Website HTML etc. Spending in the process many "happy hours" debugging and resolving both electronic and program errors.
My view is thus you need to learn and study IT as much as any other discipline. The basics of spreadsheets and databases could usefully be incorporated within Accountancy Training but everything else is going to need to be learnt separately.
Hopefully, in our Schools rather than just learning how to use a word processor and look things up on Google, some real programming and basics of IT will give future Accountants a foundation and enable them to adapt and use the latest "app".
At least its far more fun that keeping up with HMRC's latest proposals!
As one who's "comfort zone" dates back to one of the first dozen copies of Lotus 123 to arrive in the UK, yes I am quite happy to continue to use Spreadsheets. Mainly on the premise that "if it ain't broke - don't fix it".
For the small Companies I still prepare accounts to be submitted to HMRC it will take a lot of time / effort and money to change to any new system. Whilst I am sure I could still run the system for any multi-national group, I don't these days and just do not have that resource available. Certainly not at an economic cost.
Perhaps our "millennials" might bear in mind that not all production and commerce is the prerogative of global concerns, there will be hundreds of small organisation commercial and otherwise for whom "the spreadsheet" is a more than adequate solution.
I will now revert to working on my cloud based solution to a new problem, confident that 37 years of experience has taught me what to change and what to treasure.
23rd June has absolutely no bearing on this issue HMRC will be just as stupid if either side wins.
Brussels Bureaucrats are far more sensible than HMRC! Let's keep them on our side!
Don't blame the spreadsheet.
I had one of the first copies of Lotus 123 (remember that?) in the UK and have been writing spreadsheets ever since.
Any error in my spreadsheets have been down to the idiot writing the sheet (Me!) or entering the data (Again probably "your's truely"!).
They should have checked what they have written and done some tests to prove that the resulant modle worked! There is just no excuse for making such a basic error.
In this instance I have every sympathy for the Minister. They are not there to check the detail of figures given to them by Civil Servants, they are there to make policy.
Mind you I do think that previous Governments should never have saddled the country with such a convoleted sytem of running a railway!
Perhaps the way forward is to totally re-think the whole francise system and set up a more joined up system - but not back to nationisation?
Where is it?
Call me old fashioned but when it comes to an Accounting Application I think I want it running on a box in an office to which I have the key.
At least you then have an idea where exactly your data is and if it fails you can go an "kick the box" or the idoit who pulled the plug!
If it is "out there floating on a cloud", which cloud and who is blowing it around?
Some will no doubt consider it a hassle to keep backups, install fixes maintain firewalls etc. No that is just good discipline! Which I think is eminently more preferable than leaving it to the "gods" who rule the internet, microsoft, electricity supplies etc etc.
Sooner rather than latter one of these elements of the world wide structure will fail or decide they can hold the rest of the world to ransome. But then I dont have to remind anyone of the oil crisis, the New York power black out or Icelantic Banks?
Surely the most environmentally friendly thing the next Prime Minister should do (once he is crowned!) is to immediately abolish his previous department and all its offices etc.
Just think of the number of Trees that would save to be left on the planet to absorb carbon!
Printing what you want.
A method I have been using for some time to print what I want from both a single worksheet and several worksheets in a workbook is:-
Firstly "name" [insert name etc] the area which I want to print, usually a rather obvious name like "PrintArea" but for example I have one worksheet which I regularly publish a "costed" and and "uncosted" version so the names are "PrintArea_Costed" and "PrintArea_Uncosted" (so oringinal!).
This can be done to several wooksheets in a workbook.
Next, I record a short macro for printing each area, setting printer defaults as I do this. Then I create a button to link to the macro. So now every time I want a print I just click the button.
If I want several "pages" from different worksheets in the work book, it is quite a quick matter to write a macro which calls the individual macros for each sheet in order.
Also if you wsih to have 2 versions of print e.g. a hard copy and a .pdf, it is quite simple to record a second macro to produce the .pdf and set up a second button. Although remember you do need to have a bit at the end of such a macro to switch back to your normal printer, Excel remembers the last printer.
This may sound a bit complicated, but it's real use is that I have done this where I regularly use a proforma worksheet or workbook to prepare reguarly used sheets.
A further stage is that I have written a number of "menu" worksheets which both set up the "proformas" with the new month etc. The macros for printing are only recorded in the "menu" sheets, thus avoiding excessive file space.
(Headers footers etc are usualy set up as described in the main articule, but macros could be written for these if a dynamic version is required.)
A simple answer.
One of the best and cheapest solutions to to any reconcilliation problem I have found is using several colours of highight pen there are about 5 suffiecently distint colours to use. The only trouble sometimes is remembering what you you used each colour for!