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Farewell to fag - packet calculations

Colleges whose senior management teams do not include somebody with the title "director of finance" should not be assumed to have overlooked the importance of budgetary issues.

Samantha Dewer, financial manager or controller at Kendal College in Cumbria, is a chartered managementaccountant. While she is not a member of the four-strong senior executive, she is part of the wider college management team, which includes 13 people.

Ms Dewer reports to the vice- principal, Jim Johnson, who is also a chartered accountant and has overall responsibility for college resources within the executive. When Mr Johnson arrived at Kendal six years ago, there were no qualified accountants.

"There was so much that needed to be done on a broad resources brief," he recalls. "I recruited a finance manager because we neeed a qualified accountant who was purely in charge of finance."

It was "incidental rather than necessary" to have two fullyqualified accountants on the wider management team. "If I was setting it up now I would have a director of finance and get acompetent runner," he explains. "One person has to stand back from the engine room, but it's good to have back-to-back experts."

Mr Johnson says many finance directors are under pressure because most FE principals come from an academic background and do not have accountancy skills or qualifications.

"It's difficult for many principals to fulfil the chief accounting officer role because, being in colleges, they've had to learn what they know off the back of a cigarette packet," he says. "Without experts around them, they have got real problems."

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