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Newly Qualified Accountants

An interview with Neil Banbury

flexible working - british businesses yet to face up to the impact

Neil Banbury, Commercial Planning and Analysis Manager, Unibet

Neil's career to date:

After graduating from university and taking a gap year, I started my training contract with Ernst & Young in 2007. I worked within the corporate tax team servicing SME clients in London. This gave me exposure to a wide range of businesses and industries. After completing my training contract I decided to move to a commercial focused finance role in industry as I had decided that my long-term career goals lay outside of practice and tax. I started as a financial analyst within the Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) team at Unibet in September 2010. My main responsibility was to project manage the budgeting and forecasting process and to use business insight to get involved in ad hoc projects. I have recently been promoted to manage the FP&A team.

Why did you think you would suit a career within your chosen specialisation?

I’m really interested in the way that companies operate and seek to stay ahead of the competition. A commercially focused role that would allow me to use my accountancy training on interesting projects appealed to me.

What attracted you to a career in finance? 

Analytical subjects were always my strongest at school. This led me to study economics at university so a finance based role felt like a natural progression. It is also a very broad field providing many different career paths and there are various options available to you.

What do you enjoy about your current role?

I’m really interested in the way that companies operate and seek to drive growth. I enjoy being able to play an active role in preparing the analysis that helps to shape a company’s future plans. I also love working with different types of people with various interests. Working in an SME means that I communicate with people from all parts of the business and can learn all about their areas of specialism directly from them.

How has your role evolved since qualifying?

My first role post-qualification was as an analyst within the FP&A team. My responsibilities were to lead the planning processes within the group and undertake ad hoc analysis projects. Now, as manager of the FP&A team I am responsible for ensuring that accurate, timely reports are produced, the planning process runs smoothly, reflecting corporate strategy and that value-add analysis is performed and shared with the relevant business units.

What attributes do you feel makes you a success?

Technical knowledge is always important, however when you are working in the commercial side of finance I think it is crucial to understand your industry and your product. Having a passion for the business my employer operates in helps me to analyse and assess internal and external events to a high standard. I also enjoy building relationships with people across the group. These relationships help me to better plan and understand current activity, whether it is in relation to a specific market, a new supplier or a HR or legal issue.

What advice would you give someone who was considering a career in finance?

I think it is important to have long-term goals, however don’t fixate on these. There are so many options available that you never quite know what opportunities will come your way if you keep an open mind.

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