Alan Cooper: my top five tips for finance professionals

By Alan Cooper, finance director at Liberty Leasing

Alan Cooper joined Liberty in 2014 and since that time he has helped revolutionise the business by implementing two back-office systems, doubling his team while playing a vital and strategic role in the development and success of the company. Recently, he successfully made it to the top three finalists of the Central South Mid-Market’s top 10 finance directors (with the winner yet to be announced at the time of publishing).

Below are Alan’s top five tips for avoiding pitfalls and achieving success as a finance professional within our industry:

1) Know your numbers

An obvious but crucial factor for any business is to build an accurate picture of where the business currently stands, as well as identify the opportunities to minimise any losses and maximise profit.

2) Business planning & strategy

Forecasting is a fundamental aspect within financial reporting but it’s important to look at the wider business context and goals. The growth plans at Liberty were pretty clear and I was able to adopt a two-pronged approach: implement enhanced reporting, along with the negotiation and securing of additional credit lines. The provision of enhanced management accounts data instilled further trust from our funders and we successfully secured £30m in additional headroom, which enabled us to look to the future and plan for even further growth.

3) Implementation of online systems

We are operating in a digital age where real-time reporting and cloud-based solutions are now the norm, and where the expectation from clients and customers is greater than ever. As a finance director, it’s important to appreciate how systems can streamline processes, but it’s equally important to do your research, hire experienced professionals and ensure there is a clear communication/change strategy to complement the implementation of the new system.

4) Nurture professional relationships

The perception that finance directors sit behind a desk and hide behind spreadsheets is one I’m keen to prove wrong. I make an effort to attend key industry events and to network and maintain business connections and relationships. LinkedIn is a useful platform to network online and to stay in touch with external contacts. I even challenged my skill set and accepted to sit in front of the camera for a video case study for one of our suppliers (you can watch it here)

5) Work/life balance

Maintaining a healthy work/life balance is something I’m very passionate about. The nine-to-five seems to be an outdated concept these days and it’s easy to fall short, with most of us constantly online or connected. I’m an avid runner, which takes me away from a screen and helps me reset and focus. Last year I successfully completed my first ultra-marathon and am due to run the London Marathon in April.