5 reviews
16:04 13 Mar 23
Highly recommended! Josh and Sarah have been fantastic at Astute. They've found and placed me in 2 jobs now between them, both really responsive and excellent at keeping you up to speed with things. Very knowledgable about the roles and happy to talk to companies with any queries you have.
C R.C R.
10:45 27 Jan 23
Great agency one of the best ones I've worked with! Liz has been a great help and support in helping me towards a new direction in my career life. She is very attentive and keeps me in the loop at all times! She makes the extra effort to work with my preferred requirements for work and even if it isn't completely attainable she meets me in the middle and does as much as she can to help! Also Liz is very funny might I add 😂 and I'm happy that I can now put a face to the name after all these years! Thank you again Liz for all your help and support! 😊
10:32 20 Dec 22
Josh and the Astute team was very swift to help me to find roles that matched my profile. They are really reliable and will help through every step of the recruitment process going out of their way to assist and follow up when needed. Could not find a better recruitment agency!
Helen PinegarHelen Pinegar
16:19 18 Dec 22
Fantastic recruitment agency.. Josh was extremely enthusiastic, encouraging and clearly knowledgeable about what was needed from both the employee and the employers point of view. Extremely supportive especially in regards to interview preparation and endeavoured to procure feedback promptly. Wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Astute in the future to both candidates and recruiting businesses particularly for the right fit for the role!!!
Lisa LeighLisa Leigh
11:56 30 Nov 22
I have worked as a candidate for Astute and they have been excellent. Super friendly service and professional agents keen to fit the right person to the right job. It has been a pleasure dealing with them and I would happily work for them again in the future. Highly recommend this agency.
Contact us
Suite 1, Ground Floor West,Cardinal Square,10 Nottingham Road,Derby. DE1 3QT
Stanford House,19 Castle Gate, Nottingham, NG1 7AQ

How to manage a successful relationship with your recruitment consultant Our 'astute' tips!Even though the jobs market is at it’s busiest for years, and job boards abound with opportunities, it can be hard to actually speak to a recruitment consultant. Recruiters are busy people at the moment! So we thought we would explore this and ask, “How can you manage a successful relationship with your recruitment consultant?”


How do you break through to reach a consultant’s attention? Here at Astute this is such a common problem experienced by candidates before they come to us, that we wanted to share some key advice. We take every application seriously. Personal interaction with all our candidates is key to how we work.


However, in the recruitment industry if you are looking for a job one of the hardest things is actually being able to speak to a recruitment consultant let alone meet one (online or in person!). In today’s current skills shortage, with many recruiters pressured like never before to fill more live jobs than pre-pandemic, agreeing proper bespoke lines of communication for your specific situation is key. This avoids ‘telephone tag’ or WhatsApps being ignored.


It stops either the recruiter wrongly feeling that the candidate is uninterested in the job opportunity they are trying to reach them about and it stops the candidate from feeling frustrated at the lack of communication. 


WhatsApp, Slack, email, and texts are all well and good, but to really build a proper recruiter/ candidate relationship – there is no substitute for the spontaneity of a real conversation. We would argue that the art of real conversations is a key attribute in the recruitment process, particularly as many finance professionals continue to have an agile office/ home working policy.


Its all about consistent, honest, open conversation and communication.






Recruitment consultants all offer varied services for candidates; they can vary in the way they interact with their candidates, the type of clients they focus on, the geographies they cover and of course the specialisms they focus on. Look at the website, have they any accreditations? Have they won any business awards? What are their testimonials like from candidates and clients they have worked with? How string are their reviews on Google? Check them out on LinkedIn.


A really professional recruitment consultancy will have positive testimonials, great reviews on Google, and super testimonials.


We do! 😊


A bit biased, but we like to shout about what we do well.

Check out our 5* reviews from happy candidates and clients.

See What our candidates we have placed have to say about us

See What our clients have to say about us


Make sure you pick an agency that is aligned with your values, and what you are truly looking for. After all, your recruiter will be representing you and acting as your ambassador in the local employer market. You only want the best to represent you!

Remember it’s a partnership- both you and the consultant need to work together pro actively in order to reach the ultimate goal of securing you a new job. The measure of a good relationship is remembrance and re-occurrence over time; At Astute Recruitment we have had candidates contact us who we helped over a decade ago!

Here are a few words from our consultants….

‘It’s all about the partnership- It’s a two-way thing’

‘The best candidate relationships I have developed start with honesty right from the beginning with expectations clearly set from both sides at the outset’

‘Keep open and direct lines of communication in order to develop honest and collaborative partnerships with each individual candidate.’


Here we have listed some key tips to help you develop and manage a really solid relationship with your recruitment consultant.



  • About the specific job you want.
  • The areas you want to work in and contact relevant sector recruitment agencies accordingly.
  • Is career progression important to you? Tell the consultant!
  • What are the most important things you are looking for in the next job?
  • What are the best channels for quick communication with you throughout the recruitment process (texts/ emails/ WhatsApp)?
  • What minimum notice must you give?
  • Your availability for interview.
  • What areas do you need help with? (Interviews? Offer Management? CVs?).
  • How flexible can you be for meeting up/ online chat/ calls?
  • When is the best time to contact you about job opportunities?


Agreeing the above, will confer to the recruitment consultant that you are seriously looking for a new position and that you are ready to be fully active on the job market.


If you can show you are serious about looking for a job the recruitment consultant will take YOUR application seriously.


A consultant needs to know what you want. If you need advice or support be clear on this. If we know what our candidates need from us – we are only too happy to help!


Remember recruitment consultants WANT to find you a job but they are not mind readers.



  • Salary expectations:- If you are a part qualified accountant you are not going to command as much salary as a fully qualified accountant. Yes – salaries are creeping up but be realistic!
  • Have a reasonable timeline to secure a new job.
  • Time Management: Interviews and preparation for interviews take time. Make sure you have built in time for the next few weeks to attend interviews, take calls and research companies pre-interview. If you are about to enter the busiest point of the year work wise, (year end anyone?) then now is not the time to also squeeze interviews in. The quality of interview you give could be compromised. Instead allocate a month when you know attending interviews/ do an online MS Teams or Zoom recruitment call will be easier for you!
  • Hours:- Can you do overtime on a regular basis if that’s key? Or do you need to be home by 5pm/ 6pm for dependants etc. Be upfront with the consultant on this and they can work with you to flag the most relevant opportunities with the right mix of flexible benefits.



  • Keep in touch/ Regular Communication:- Return all calls/ messages /emails promptly.
  • Follow instructions!
  • Be punctual for interviews/ agreed meetings;
  • Provide feedback as agreed;


If you can be CLEAR, REALISTIC, and RELIABLE, congratulations! You will be a sought after candidate to any recruitment consultant and you can look forward to securing a new role soon!

Other blogs you may be interested in: –


Candidate Blogs 

Do you know what time it is on you’re your career clock? Hints and tips to keep your career on track!

From Abacus to AI, why a career in accountancy is a great career choice!

What does it take to be a great Financial Director?


Client Blogs

Why its OK to talk about mental health at work. We discuss a new, free initiative available to East Midlands businesses

Why recruiting the right people at the right time is key for business success

Why good recruiters are like swans / How to hire the right candidate for your business!



If you would like to discuss anything regarding this article or any of our other articles, please  email [email protected]





Abacus to AI - the history of accountancy and why it's such a great career choice according to Astute Recruitment Ltd!


As a leading provider of accountancy staff, we look at what does accountancy mean, it’s history and importance to businesses today. Plus we explore the huge variety of careers available in the accountancy profession, and why accountancy really is a great career choice! We’ve included some great, useful links at the end too!




Historically, ‘Financial Accounting’ referenced how information was communicated on the financial position and performance of a business to its owner(s). An instant snapshot of how a business is really performing.


Financial statements, i.e. balance sheets and the income statement of a business revealed the real financial health of a company.


The word ‘accounting’, however, referred to one of the three principles of accountancy namely the process of reading, understanding, and maintaining the financial records of a business.


The other two? – Bookkeeping and auditing.


Accountancy and accounting are now synonymous, both referring to the methods of identifying, measuring, processing, classifying, recording, and reporting the financial status of an individual, company, business or organisation.


This information is mainly reported in the form of five key financial statements, prepared in accordance with relevant accounting standards, (IFRS, FRS, and various national GAAPs – including US GAAP – i.e. ‘generally accepted accounting principals’) to provide useful information to the users of these financial statements.


The two most important and most used accounting standards are IFRS and US GAAP.


USEFUL LINK: https://www.cfainstitute.org/en/advocacy/issues/gaap 


Accounting is one of the key functions of every business. Every company, charity, and organisation around the world will have the use of an accounting department, internally or externally, to look after it’s transactions, i.e. sales ledger and purchase ledger.


The size of the accounting department of a business depends on the scale and type of business. In larger companies, the accounting department usually has many more staff compared to SMEs.


Smaller SME companies and businesses typically have one or two bookkeepers/ accounts all-rounders, who can manage the day to day transactions, and either have an external accountant to refer to, monthly or yearly, or employ a company accountant/ financial controller or finance director/ Chief Operating Officer (CFO).


Similarly, businesses with a larger number of transactions per day will need more employees in their accounting department than ones with a smaller number of transactions.


Where did Accountancy come from?

Accountancy is one of the oldest professions, with a very rich past woven through history.


The modern guidelines we use today were formed from accounting principles started thousands of years ago in ancient region of Asia, called Mesopotamia.


When the idea of counting, tallying money and writing were conceived, that’s when the concept of accountancy is thought to have been born.


The Romans brought order and more formal  processes in accounting. Logging and filing transactions.


Double-entry bookkeeping as we know it today, was credited as being first created in 1494 by Luca Pacioli, an Italian mathematician.


Luca Pacioli 'The Father of Accountancy'Pacioli is commonly credited as the first person to describe the concept of debits and credits in journals and ledgers.

His work in the field of accounting earned him the title of “Father of accounting” and he laid the foundation of modern accounting systems and processes.

The industrial revolution in the mid to late 18th century, created the need for a more advanced system of accounting.

The old, ancient accounting systems, while intrinsically sound, did not provide a solution for the then emerging modern structures of corporations.


For example, corporations had complex structures of ownership that did not exist in ancient times. Investments in those businesses were hard to make due to the lack of credible, detailed information available to investors.


To tackle this problem and attract more investors, corporations adopted a system of reporting their financial activities by publishing financial statements.


At the beginning, these financial statements were limited to the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement. The rise of the system of financial statements also gave rise to agency problems.


Agency problems arose because the shareholders of a corporation did not believe the management. This led to the development of a mainstream auditing system.


While the concept of auditing was already developed in ancient Egypt, it became a mainstream practice during these times.


So, what is an Accountant? What is their job?


An accountant is a professional practitioner of accountancy. Accountants are trained, competent professionals who have worked through different professional certification exams, or through their careers, have become ‘Qualified By Experience’.


Accountants are members or associates of professional accounting bodies such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), Association Accounting Technicians (AAT).


  • Useful links to all of the professional accountancy bodies are at the foot of this blog if you would like to find out more about their courses, the training and examinations these really good organisations can offer to aspiring accountants.


In ancient times, accountants were viewed as solicitors that offered accounting services to their clients. However, in the mid-19th century, the Institute of Accountants in Glasgow petitioned Queen Victoria no less, for a royal charter.


This permitted them to legally define themselves as ‘accountants’ in their own right, rather than as ‘solicitors’. Even before the petition, accountancy as a profession was already recognised in Scotland. The petition to Queen Victoria meant that accountants could for the first time, be seen as professionals in accountancy rather than mere solicitors in the rest of the world as well.


This petition also laid the foundation for many professional accounting bodies such as the London Association of Accountants, later renamed to Association of Chartered Certified Accounts (ACCA) in the United Kingdom and the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) in the United States.


Aided by the industrial revolution, this created a demand for technically sound professionals who were capable of handling modern accountancy problems.


Branches of Accountancy – Our Astute ‘Accountancy Tree’ gives some clues!

Astute Recruitment Ltd - Our accountancy career tree


Most people think of accountancy as simple bookkeeping and debits and credits. While these are a part of accountancy as a profession, there are several branches you can follow, each leading to varied, exciting and commercial accounting and finance jobs that are very different from each other.


Choosing Accountancy as a profession really can offer contrasting, fulfilling, and varied career choices.



We’ve broken down the key ones for you below: –


1) Financial Accounting


Financial accounting is the most popular and widely implemented branch of accountancy. Financial accounting branch is related to the reporting of the financial status of a business, through the financial statements, and any process that helps with the preparation of these financial statements.


For example, any process involved from entering source documents into the accounting systems of the business up to the preparation of the key financial statements falls under the financial accounting branch.


Careers can develop from training within a firm of accountants – local, regional firms including Dains, to the so called ‘Big 4’ – PWC, EY, Deloittes, and KPMG.


Or, you can choose commerce and industry (C&I), and secure Graduate Trainee Accountancy positions or Trainee Transactional jobs, such as Accounts Payable (AP), Accounts Receivable (AR) – also commonly referred to as Credit Control, and Accounts Assistant positions.


2) Management Accounting


While financial accounting has to do with the preparation of the information that is reported externally, management accounting is related to the preparation of information for internal use.


Daily or monthly operating reports, budgets, variance analysis, etc. all fall under management accounting.


The information produced through management accounting is used by the management of the business to make decisions for the future of the business. These can be used for short-term or long-term strategy making.


3) Cost Accounting


Cost accounting is similar to management accounting and often considered a type of management accounting.


Cost accounting is the area of accountancy that is commonly used in the manufacturing industry. Costings are used to derive the cost of a product for decision-making purposes.


This cost can be calculated using different costing techniques such as absorption costing, marginal cost, activity-based costing, target costing, etc. Once costs are determined, cost accounting is also concerned with monitoring those costs. Some companies typically have a dedicated Cost Accountant while others employ a Management Accountant whose job description will also embrace Costings.


4) Auditing


While auditing does not involve preparing any accounting information, it is related to reviewing the information produced through other branches of accounting.


Auditing can either be internal or external. Internal auditing is performed by the management of the business to review accounting information produced for internal use.


External accounting is related to reviewing the information produced for external use, which mainly includes reviewing the financial statements of a business.


Auditing can also be used to determine level of internal control of an organization.


Just as with Financial Accounting, careers can develop from training within a firm of accountants – local, regional firms including Dains, to the so called ‘Big 4’ – PWC, EY, Deloittes & KPMG.


Each will have their own trainee schemes and will look to recruit staff directly through LinkedIn or use the services of an accountancy recruitment agency or recruitment consultancy.


5) Forensic Accounting


Forensic accounting is closely related to auditing. Forensic accounting is related to the use of accountancy techniques, skills, and knowledge in circumstances that might have legal implications.


Forensic accounting is the process of carrying out forensic investigations to present in a legal proceeding. Forensic accounting is mainly used for fraud investigations within the business, professional negligence cases, or insurance claims.


6) Accounting Information System – or System Accountants


Accounting Information System (AIS) is related to the collection, development, deployment, implementation and monitoring of the accounting procedures and systems that are used in the accounting process.


With the computerisation of the accounting process, AIS has become a computerized methodology for conducting accounting processes with information technology resources.


7) Tax Accounting


Tax accounting is the branch of accountancy that deals with the application of tax planning to benefit the business and preparation of tax returns.


It also involves calculating the income tax and other taxes of the business. Tax accounting is used to legally decrease the taxes of the business. Tax accounting should not be used for tax evasion.


The rules of tax accounting are defined and dictated by the local tax body of the country the tax is being paid in.


8) Fiduciary Accounting


Fiduciary accounting is the branch of accountancy that is related to the management of funds in trusts. This branch is mainly concerned with the trustee communicating any financial information about the trust to the beneficiaries.


Fiduciary accounting is regulated by the law and court and, therefore, the information produced through this branch must be accurate and precise.


9) Nonprofit Accounting


Nonprofit accounting mainly applies to charities and nonprofit organisations. In this branch of accountancy, incomes and expenses are recorded according to the nonprofit accounting standards. (SORPS)


This is the alternative of financial accounting for nonprofit organizations. In this branch of accounting, expenses are recorded in the statement of functional expenses.


Furthermore, both the income and expenses are recorded in the statement of activities.


10) Social Accounting


Social accounting is the branch of accountancy that is related to reporting the effect of the business’ activities on the society and environment.


For companies, social accounting is used in the context of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and companies may be required by law to do so.


However, other types of organisations such as not-for-profits, charities or government departments, may also choose to adapt social accounting voluntarily.


So, in summary, ‘Accountancy’ or ‘accounting’ is the process of identifying, measuring, processing, classifying, recording, and reporting the financial information of a business.


Accountancy has many branches such as financial accounting, management accounts, financial analysis, cost accounting, auditing, tax accounting, and many, many more.


Modern popular careers in accountancy and finance that are increasingly key in today’s collaborative business world, are Finance Business Partners – blending the worlds of management accounting, financial analysis and stakeholder engagement.


If you are looking for a career in accountancy, or are wanting to develop your CPD / training – here are some useful links: –






ICAEW (ACA)https://www.icaew.com/


FRC (Financial Reporting Council)https://www.frc.org.uk/accountants/accounting-and-reporting-policy/uk-accounting-standards/statements-of-recommended-practice-(sorps)


If you are looking for training providers for the professional accountancy examinations you can contact these two great organisations: –


KAPLAN – https://kaplan.co.uk/

BPP – https://www.bpp.com/


You can view our latest permanent and temporary vacancies on the following link;





If you would like any further help, guidance or support, please contact our MD, Mary Maguire by email to; [email protected] 

Or of course you can contact our team on 01332 346 100 – we are always happy to help.

Mary Maguire

Managing Director
Astute | Accountancy & Finance | HR | Office Support

Suite One, Ground Floor West, Cardinal Square, 10 Nottingham Road, Derby, DE1 3QT

T: 01332 346100
M: 07717 412911

E:  [email protected]

W: www.astuterecruitment.com

LI:  https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/mary-maguire/18/73/553

LI: www.linkedin.com/company/astute-recruitment/




Do you know the time on your career clock? Astute Recruitment Ltd's latest thought provoking career article57,600. A special number. Why?

Not my salary 🤣

Not how many fans will be at the next game at Wembley ⚽🤞


Give or take, 57,600 is the number of hours I’ve spent at work in my career spanning 30 years.

That’s more than I’ve roughly spent with my family, friends and partners in all that time.

(happily married last 17 years👫).


I bet I’m not alone.

You can calculate your own career clock with some simple sums for fun.

But my serious point is, how much of my career clock is left? How much longer do I have to achieve my professional goals?

That’s not such a large number for me. (I love my job, but I don’t plan on working at 70 🧓). I am mindful that I only have a finite time left to achieve remaining professional goals.

If you do your sums, you can calculate how much of your very own career clock you have left.

The answer may surprise, appall or enthrall.

The difference between your ‘time served’ and ideal working career left tells you, in a nutshell, how long you have left to achieve your ambitions.


A time line. 


Most people don’t think about this, wrapped up in layers of today’s problems. But if you are thinking of changing job/ applying for that promotion/ studying for your CIMA/ACCA/ACA/ AAT or other professional exam, you absolutely should know what the time is on your personal career clock.


Everything you work for, the job you do now to the people you work for, the exams and qualifications you select to acquire, should be helping you to achieve your ultimate career goal.


Knowing your ‘why am I doing this’ will make sure you are doing the right job for the right reasons, at the right time for you.


It could be to secure a job with better work /life balance now, while the kids are small but with a business that can give you promotions and growth in the future?


It could be you are an aspiring FD and need a role offering more man management / controls / commercial or other experience to fill that skill gap on your cv.


“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” – William Shakespeare.


As the Bard says, ’tis better to spend time waiting for the opportunity to take an action than miss the chance. But you need to recognise what those chances are, at the right time for you, seize them, and make those decisions to keep your life and career on track and on time.


The quote references Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, a character who suspects his wife’s infidelity, but it could be applied to any situation when you need to take a chance to change things and not miss the opportunity.


So, what’s the time left on your career clock?


It might just be the most important question for you and your professional aspirations!


If you would like confidential career advice you can contact Mary Maguire or our call our experienced team at Astute Recruitment Ltd on 01332 346 100.


An article by Mary Maguire, Managing Director
Astute | Accountancy & Finance | HR | Office Support

Suite One, Ground Floor West, Cardinal Square, 10 Nottingham Road, Derby, DE1 3QT

T: 01332 346100
M: 07717 412911

E:  [email protected]

W: www.astuterecruitment.com

LI:  https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/mary-maguire/18/73/553

LI: www.linkedin.com/company/astute-recruitment/

Recruiting the right team will get the right results.

Every time.

On a warm June evening, Gareth Southgate led his England team out onto the Wembley turf. To the thousands of England and German fans there in the balmy air plus the millions watching on their TV screens, it promised to be an exciting evening and did not disappoint.

But lets turn the clock back a couple of days, even a few short hours before the game. Football experts, home-spun armchair critics and fans were giving their opinions.

Play X on the left, leave y on the bench. The formation has to be 3 4 3 or 4 4 2 or other.

Gareth gave a brilliant lesson to all in management.

He was on the ground, and he knew his players inside out.

He had trained with them.

Laughed with them. Cried with them on many a day and game before that summer evening facing their German opponents.

He knew what each player was capable of and when to deploy their strengths.

A certain fresh pair of legs in the second half gave just the right blend of creative endeavor, skillful artistry, and sheer energy at just the right moment to make the maximum impact. 2 goals in just a few mesmerising minutes.

That is the lesson for managers in business. To recruit and use the right talent at the right time. To listen to your own instincts and be guided by the facts in front of you. To play to your team’s strengths. Not to allow frustration to sap away energy when things seem to drag. Not to sacrifice the quality and professionalism of the team for a quick easy foul.

Instead, stick to your game plan, ensure that each member of your team knows their role inside out, what to do and when.

Most important of all, as a manager you are the creator of your team’s destiny. To get that togetherness and will to win, not just for each player but for them to want to win for each other.

That’s the true goal of every manager and the way for teams, whether in business or on the pitch, to win.

Astute promotion for Sarah-Louise Wykes to DirectorIt is with huge pleasure that we can announce our long-serving employee, Sarah-Louise Wykes, has just been awarded a well-deserved promotion to Director! As part of the ongoing development of our recruitment team, it is crucially important to reward success and see the careers of good people in our team flourish. We have a clearly defined career structure of promotion and career development for our staff, and it is wonderful to see someone achieve so much in our team.

Sarah-Louise originally joined Astute in 2012 after a successful career as an Assistant Accountant. With her hands-on experience in accountancy, she has been able to develop excellent, long-standing relationships with clients and candidates in the local East Midlands market.

From starting as a Trainee Consultant, Sarah-Louise achieved 4 promotions. After a break to follow an opportunity to recruit finance professionals internationally, we are delighted to announce that Sarah-Louise has just been promoted to Director after resuming her career with us in 2020!

A well-deserved promotion!

Our MD Sarah Stevenson said of Sarah-Louise’s promotion: – “I recruited Sarah-Louise into my team at Astute with no prior recruitment experience, but a great grounding in accountancy and finance and lots of ambition. She has always been quick to learn, and equally keen to develop. Sarah-Louise has been and remains one of the hardest working members of my team. To be able to help her career along, and watch her thrive and become the successful business person she is today is one of the proudest moments in my career.”

Mary Maguire, MD also had this to say: – “I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Sarah-Louise for many years now. Recruitment is a people business and you need colleagues in your team who are great listeners, communicators, and team players. Sarah-Louise has each of these attributes in abundance. I’m thrilled and delighted to welcome Sarah-Louise onto our Board of Directors, and look forward to many more successful years working with her.”

All non-qualified, transactional finance staff, from ledger clerks to supervisors and managers, bookkeepers, assistant accountants, and aspiring part qualified accountants on a temporary, permanent, and contract basis within the East Midlands.

Email | Linkedin


What makes an exceptional finance director?The remit of a Financial Director (FD) is to direct the financial obligations, and financial reporting of a business AND help drive the company forward with the senior management team.


But that’s the easy bit. What genuine qualities lift an ordinary FD into an extraordinary Director of Finance?


This isn’t about which accountancy qualification you secured. The best, most brilliant FDs we have had the pleasure of recruiting and recruiting for, have had the full range of qualifications from CIMA, ACCA, ACA, CA, CIPFA, and QBE. The ability to pass exams, demonstrates academic rigour, but the modern FD needs much more than just letters after their name.


They need emotional and business intelligence as much as academic prowess. As the world emerges from the maelstrom of Covid into a new normal, MDs are looking for candidates who can own and understand the numbers, but who can also be intuitive to understand the power of having and keeping a resilient finance team intact.


To start with, let’s distinguish the difference between a Financial Director and a Financial Controller. The lines of duty can blur in an SME setting, but a crucial difference is an FD directs, while an FC controls the day-to-day operations of the finance function.


To effectively ‘direct’, you need to be able to command, lead, inspire. If you can’t influence people to perform their duties properly, this is a big problem.


Then we have the engagement /people bit.


You may have a great ‘number 2’ as a financial controller or finance manager, to manage staff day to day but it’s crucial you can also command the respect of the team underneath.

Don’t silo yourself but keep open lines of communication, at all levels.


A modern breakdown of the key attributes to being an exceptional FD: –



I                  Inspirational


               Emotionally intelligent


T                 Tenacious



Let’s look at these in more depth.


Decisive: – 

Decision Makers have to be able to make decisions. You’re in the wrong job as an FD, if you struggle to reach a decision, stand by it and take responsibility for the course of action you have taken. Hindsight is a great thing. There will be mistakes made. But the extraordinary FD will own their decisions and be able to deftly calculate a fresh course of direction weighing up the risks and benefits. There’s no hiding place for a great FD. You need to be seen to be a leader in your company, amongst your peers, and by your team. That’s how respect is earned.


Inspirational: – 

To inspire is to be innovative. To think “outside of the box” through your knowledge and experiences, and to be creative in your thinking. The key here is application. How you apply your experience to specific, spontaneous work and business situations. As a mindset, the exceptional FD will have the dexterity to apply their interactions to a wide spectrum of situations, encouraging, and motivating their people and peers to achieve the best possible business outcomes.


Resourceful: –

This has become an absolutely crucial attribute. More than ever, the ability to adapt to many different functions or activities, the FD may have to step into other roles e.g. Interim Managing Director/ IT Director/ HR Director. They must be commercially aware and must understand the other areas of the business such as HR, Strategic direction, and IT amongst others.


Emotional intelligence: – 

The Oxford University definition: the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

“emotional intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success”.

People have been hugely affected by changes to their working routines. An FD needs to be more mindful than ever of the psychological and mental well-being of their team and lead their staff through the return to a new normal. An outstanding FD will be able to direct how their team(s) can be professionally steered during the transition from Lockdown to new normal.

They will also have honed great recruitment skills to select the talent they need, interview and challenge potential hires, and most importantly have a succession plan.


Collaborative: –

Collaboration at work means involving two or more people working together for a particular purpose for the benefit of the company. This means having the ethical, professional, and moral compass to know what needs to happen and how to work together, to bring the best results. Being emotionally aware of not just yourself but others at work is key. An exceptional FD will understand how to approach people at all levels and how to temper their language, tone and timbre to make the best possible collaboration work. Remote working and online meetings mean your efforts need to transfer even more clearly and effectively than in person.

Remember: Collaboration can be upwards, as well as cascading to more junior staff.

The FD needs to balance ambition with reality and needs to be the “wise counsel to the board without allowing entrepreneurial flair to become suppressed.”


Tenacious: –

Tenacity is the determination to consistently continue what you are doing. To see things through. From ensuring financial information produced stands up to scrutiny from external auditors, bank and other external, legal parties.


All stakeholders expect honesty and a “nothing to hide” attitude to be consistently delivered. The highest standards (ethics) must be maintained, the FD should be seen as the “Champion” of the organisation’s culture and ensure that good corporate governance is maintained at all times.

The exceptional FD will have this in hand.


Supportive: –

“Your support network is the solid ground from which you can propel yourself upwards” . Anna Barnes.

This is about your own support network as much as being a supportive FD.

The most successful business people will have great emotional and personal backup networks. From family, and friends to external services and people to make their personal lives run as smoothly, healthily, and efficiently as possible.

You can’t be an effective, exceptional FD if your personal life and own wellbeing are in disarray.


If you would like confidential career or employment advice around this or any other topic, please contact Mary Maguire and she will be delighted to help you or navigate you to one of our team.



Article by Mary Maguire

Managing Director
Astute | Accountancy & Finance | HR | Office Support

Suite One, Ground Floor West, Cardinal Square, 10 Nottingham Road, Derby, DE1 3QT

T: 01332 346100
M: 07717 412911

E:  [email protected]

W: www.astuterecruitment.com

LI:  https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/mary-maguire/18/73/553

LI: www.linkedin.com/company/astute-recruitment/

What makes an exceptional finance director?

Astute Recruitment Ltd celebrate back to school monday - our first step back to working and living as normalOur team includes several parents and we’re sure they and all parents have been eagerly waiting for today when their children can return to school!


8th March means relief for working parents including several in our team. It’s no understatement to say it’s been a struggle to juggle wfh with home-schooling.


Some working parents have been lucky, with one parent doing the lion’s share of home-schooling allowing the other parent to carry on working from home.


But for single-parents and for households with both parents working full-time, it has been even harder.


Let’s not forget the kids too. It’s been really hard for all children, not to be able to see their friends and play with them for months. For their social and educational development, this is such an important milestone!


Thank you to all the teachers too! 👏👏👏 Their hard work has meant that our children can have a safe and secure school environment they can return to.


Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we can all get back to normal, but we applaud this first step back to work, school, and normal life.


So, let’s all say well done to everyone for doing the best we could for our kids and each other. ❤️ 👏




An article by Mary Maguire

Managing Director
Astute | Accountancy & Finance | HR | Office Support

Suite One, Ground Floor West, Cardinal Square, 10 Nottingham Road, Derby, DE1 3QT

T: 01332 346100
M: 07717 412911

E:  [email protected]

W: www.astuterecruitment.com

LI: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mary-maguire-astute-recruitment-ltd/

LI: www.linkedin.com/company/astute-recruitment/

As part of a series of collaborations, our MD, Mary Maguire is working with specialists across Finance, Accountancy, HR, and Recruitment. Thank you to Mr John Hepworth for his insightful piece on what a CFO needs to know in 2020…..


The challenges of the last 9 months have meant a very bumpy ride for many businesses and it is likely that the road will not be much smoother in the coming months. Having had to react to the rapid lockdown of the economy through the furloughing of staff, transitioning to home working, making applications for government support grants and loans, ensuring workplaces are safe for employees and customers – the list could go on!

As a CFO, you must now ensure that your business is ready for a future which is likely to be somewhat different to what has gone before.

Oh, and then there’s Brexit!

The recent focus for the CFO is likely to have been managing cash and mitigating the short-term risks brought about by the precipitous economic slowdown. Having steered your business through that period it is now incumbent on us as CFOs to ensure that our businesses take all the opportunities afforded, whilst avoiding costly pitfalls.

To do this I see that there are several things that we need to have in mind: –


  1. A Proper Business Strategy

Depending on our markets, we may need to continue with a defensive strategy i.e. strengthening our balance sheets, building cash reserves, rebuilding, or changing revenue streams, cutting costs and potentially downsizing.

Alternatively, if our market remains buoyant, we may want a more aggressive strategy of investment and growth driven by innovation, enhanced revenue streams, or acquisition(s).

Whatever our strategy, we as CFOs, must know how it is going to be financed and be ready to influence and secure commitment from the Board and senior management to approve bold, strategic moves.


  1. Agility To Adapt!

We need to keep our finger on the pulse of the business, our markets, and our customers, and understand the speed at which things change. We should also chart closely the course of the pandemic and of course be ready for potential changes to our business and operations when we exit the Brexit Transition Period on 1st January 2021. All these changes will have potential impact on our busines and will help inform our strategy.


  1. What changes to keep.

To continue to support the business over the lockdown and beyond, many CFOs have had to make massive changes to the ways that their finance functions operate, be it increased working flexibility for our staff, greater utilisation of technology for communication, and automation of processes.


Some of these changes will be robust, but other may be temporary solutions that require more development. Many of these changes will be beneficial in the longer term and we need to ensure that they are embedded into our processes.


For the technological changes, it is likely that capturing the opportunities offered by AI through invoice scanning or building of bots to carry out mundane repetitive tasks may be the differentiator between business failure and success.


Now is the time to act.


As well as process improvements, we have undoubtedly stripped cost out over the last few months. The canny CFO must work closely with departmental heads and budget holders to manage things to ensure that these costs do not drift back unnecessarily.


  1. Embrace The Power Of Forecasting

We all know how important forecasting and budgeting is for our business, but things have just got way more critical. We need to utilise scenario planning more, using best, expected, and worse case scenarios.


Budgets of old will become a thing of the past. We should now aim to deliver and utilise dynamic forecasts that are updated and reviewed with management quarterly if not more frequently, ensuring that our strategic direction remains appropriate. KPIs should be set and monitored to enable quick identification of problems or a requirement to change course.


Emerging data tools including Power BI and Power Query and having the interim or permanent expertise in your team to deliver the very best in analysis and forecasting is key. As is the plan for knowledge retention for these skills to be developed and retained in your Accounting function.


Speed and flexibility must be permanently built into the forecasting and planning process to facilitate faster decision making. Remember too that accurate and timely reporting and data is even more crucial during times of turbulence.




  1. Taking Our Teams With Us And Having The Right Talent!

We may have had to let team members go over the last few months, but it is vital that we invest in the finance team and ensure that all staff has a Covid secure environment in which to work.

It is also critical to ensure your team has the right skills to ensure the delivery of business objectives. This may involve training, but exceptional leadership is imperative especially when managing team members who are working remotely.

Alternatively, for businesses doing well, the success of a CFO will be measured on the continued performance of their operational, production, and finance teams. Ensuring you have the right talent and the best possible people for your business is critical.

As always, whether facing economic headwinds or not, talented accountants, sales, marketing, and other experts are in demand. You need to ensure that your business is front and centre in terms of employer branding in the sector you operate within.

Ensuring key relationships with trusted recruitment partners are maintained but also allowing exceptional local sourcing specialists such as Astute Recruitment Ltd, to alert you the best possible talent available.



  1. Marketing, Branding, Position, and Perception

As CFO – the art of effective budgeting to inform critical decision making has never been so important. One of the truest ways to enhance a business is to ensure that social media channels are up to date, with relevant, high-quality original content. With usual sales presentations and pitches increasingly shifting online, there must always be a place on the balance sheet for marketing expertise to bring your brand and business to potential customers, clients and potential future hires.


& Finally, next time we will be ready!

I imagine that many businesses risk registers did not include a pandemic as a critical risk. We must rectify this and take all our learnings to ensure that we have robust processes in place for any repeat. We should also keep our contingency plans up to date in case of another serious downturn; this maybe being ready to downsize, liquidate assets, or secure additional funding.


As well as steering the business through the choppy waters of Covid-19 and Brexit we must not forget the CFO’s responsibility for sustainability and environmental protection. We must move on from the box-ticking exercise of CSR and ensure that in the new world sustainability becomes an inherent part of our business operations and strategy.


Not much to do then!


An article by John Hepworth. You can view John’s profile on LinkedIn by clicking below: –


What does a CFO need to know in 2020? Astute Recruitment provides the inside track
What does a CFO need to know in 2020? Astute Recruitment provides the inside track
Top 5 Skype Interview Tips for candidates from Astute Recruitment Ltd
Top 5 Skype Interview Tips for candidates from Astute Recruitment Ltd

With more and more workplaces cancelling meetings and face to face interviews, companies are increasingly turning to Skype and other media to play an increasing part in the recruitment process.

Here at Astute, we thought this would be more crucial than ever. An online interview can either be audio or visual but most employers prefer Skype, where a potential candidate can be interviewed ‘remotely’. As with any interview in person, there are do’s and don’ts that every candidate should know.

Below are 5 Skype interview tips to help you nail that job: –

1.Dress the part: You might not meet your potential employer physically in person, face to face, but you will still need to dress professionally. Your interviewer can still see you and of course, you can see them! Make sure you have a chosen outfit ready for you to wear the night before.

2. Don’t be late! Be ready an hour earlier so that you can prepare in advance. As with any interview you need to ensure you have allowed plenty of time to become calm. Make sure all radios, TVs and mobile phones are set to silent at least 15 minutes before your interview begins so there is no distracting background noise.

3. Ensure your network is working! Make sure your computer and network are functioning well. Test your microphone and camera beforehand to prevent glitches. The last thing you want is to just log in to Skype and find that you can see your interviewer but cannot hear them or vice versa!

4. Setup your environment and surroundings to look professional. Create a clean, tidy background that represents your organisational skills. Sounds obvious, but make sure that the view of your area behind you which your ‘interviewer/ interviewers’ can see looks ordered, clean and clear.

5. Focus on the camera. Tricky one this – as the natural tendency is to look someone in the eye, whether on screen or face to face. On camera, on an online interview, this means you having to look straight into the camera as a way of keeping eye contact with your interviewer and NOT looking the person you are talking to directly in the eye on the screen. Our advice? Practice, practice, and practice again. You can ask a friend to be on the other end of the camera as a practice Skype interview exercise, allowing you to practice this in real-time. Even better, get your friend to ask you proper interview questions.


Star Bondholder Of The Week
Astute Marketing Derby’s “Star Bondholder Of The Week”


Proud to be Marketing Derby’s Star Bondholder This Week!


Marketing Derby is a great organisation set up to raise the profile of Derby and Derbyshire’s hardworking business community. Their work embraces all manner of SME companies from start-ups to fully fledged organisations with a global reach. The hardworking team including John Forkin, have done a huge amount of work promoting the region both through their Ambassador Club in London and elsewhere. Their efforts have seen successful investments into the Derbyshire region and raised the global profile of Derbyshire as a county that means business.

Thank you Marketing Derby for acknowledging our team’s hard work and making us the Star Bondholder this week.

We look forward to hearing who next week’s Star is!