Contract Type: Permanent
Location: East London
Salary: circa £120k + company benefits including membership of the Performance Related Pay scheme
Job Published: October 03, 2020 23:58

Job Description

Be First is a private limited company wholly owned by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. 

Barking and Dagenham is London’s leading prospect for development and regeneration and Be First has mission to tap its potential and accelerate regeneration in the Borough but in a way that benefits the existing population and creates a model for inclusive growth.

Be First was created to provide increased flexibility and focus to development, to attract the staff to deliver the Council’s Investment Strategy and to establish development vehicles with the private sector to accelerate the wider regeneration of the borough.   

Its remit encompasses all aspects of regeneration and place-shaping for the borough, including not only housing, commercial buildings, and infrastructure but also green spaces and other community assets, employment, prosperity, and community well-being. In addition, the Council expect Be First to pay an annual dividend to it, to fund other Council services.

Be First has a very ambitious development programme underway with more to come. From a standing start, we now have 12 schemes on site and under construction, with 7 more planned to start before the end of Q1 2021. This will require funding of some £10m per month as all schemes get underway, with delivery of well over 1000 homes. We also have a committed pipeline of £300m for acquiring new sites either for onward sale or development.



Purpose of the Role

Be First is a new and rapidly expanding venture. The Finance Director will play a vital role in maintaining and improving the financial systems already in place, establishing robust and dynamic governance structures and systems to ensure that it can operate efficiently and take full advantage of commercial opportunity, and that it does so in accordance with company law and best practice. 

The post-holder will support the MD, Executive team, and Board to ensure that all interfaces with the shareholder, partners, contractors, and other stakeholders are formally managed and records retained. The post will include membership of the senior leadership team.

Be First is a lean and dynamic organisation, consequently the role requires a true “business partner” approach, requiring someone who is happy to support the Executive Team and Board in delivering its financial plans.

The role is broad, encompassing not just finance, but management of the Project Management Office, (PMO), Company Secretarial, HR and office management. By 31 March 2021, the finance function will become largely independent from LBBD, currently it runs the day to day accounting for us.

So, the key attributes required from the person filling the role are:

  • Emotional intelligence and an enquiring mind.
  • The ability to make the complex simple – and to give a pithy articulation for the Board and Executive.
  • Visibility – with an engaging, collaborative manner.
  • Horizon scanning for what might impact the Board and the company next. 
  • Synthesising regulatory/governance with a wider business viewpoint
  • Giving rounded and decisive advice, informed by commercial realities and the Political landscape Be First operates within.
  • Bring energy and drive to the execution of the role.
  • Demonstrate strategic engagement – but operational attention to detail. 

Inevitably this also means that the Finance Director should become the “go to” person for issues or projects that do not have a natural home – and the hope is that the appointee will take these on with equanimity. This is an exciting opportunity to be part of the development of Be First and the growth and development of Barking and Dagenham.



Principal Duties

  • Astute management of 4 direct reports, and 14 staff, covering a variety of activities, from day to day accounting, to governance around Board and other statutory issues, to managing the PMO, where tenders are issued from, project projections checked, and business plans are interrogated.
  • Ensure monthly and quarterly accounts are prepared accurately, and business plans clearly articulate the desired direction the company is taking.
  • Keep the Board appraised of all financial issues and suggested solutions.
  • Ensure LBBD finance understand the financial position of the company, its requirements, threats, and opportunities.
  • Ensure a robust system of risk management is in place, both at corporate and project level.
  • Preparation of annual accounts in IFRS format, with a clean audit opinion, ensuring all formalities are adhered to. Managing the external audit relationship.
  • Maintaining a robust system of internal control, both at the corporate and individual project level. Liaison with the Audit Committee and internal auditors as appropriate.
  • Member of the MD’s Senior Leadership team.
  • Managing the monthly payroll and day to day HR issues, liaison with Remuneration Committee as required.
  • Ensuring the accurate recording of minutes of the Board and Audit Committee and minuting/capturing actions of executive meetings.  Tracking and reporting back on actions arising on a dynamic basis. 
  • Work with the MD to streamline and optimise all required liaison with, and provision of information to the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.



Attributes and Qualifications

  • Prior experience as a Finance Director or deputy finance director of an organisation or operating in a role that supports a Board and leads on issues of operations and governance
  • Must be a qualified accountant (ICEAW or CIMA preferred) with at least 10 years post qualification experience.
  • Strong and capable leadership, an ability to inspire others to go that extra mile.
  • Good understanding of strategic issues and business topics as they relate to the company.
  • The intelligence to inspire confidence in the Board and the Executive.
  • A degree of acumen to coach the inevitable necessities of compliance and regulation in terms and in forms which are facilitative rather than clunky or overly bureaucratic.
  • The ability to synthesise accounting issues within a commercial setting whilst taking account of our shareholder relationship and advise accordingly.
  • The confidence and experience to make rapid and safe judgements and to steer the Board on knotty governance issues.
  • Judgement, independence, and maturity to act as a sounding board for Executive or Non-Executive Directors and the nuance to handle sensitive situations with a deft touch.
  • Flexibility and an engaging, collaborative manner.
  • The ability to horizon scan for "what is coming down the track" and to put this in context for the Board, recommending actions.
  • Results driven, looking for continuous improvement and bringing an eye for simplification of processes and procedures.
  • A self-starter with excellent communication skills, able to liaise and persuade at all levels.
  • A committed team-player, but self-sufficient.
  • Attention to detail, but a pragmatic mindset is required to ensure that Be First’s governance processes support its commercial development while safeguarding its reputation.
  • Experience of local government and/or property development a bonus

Desirable Criteria:

  • Educated to degree level, or equivalent, with an additional business qualification.
  • Develop Partnership-wide functional strategic and operational plans.
  • A good communicator with strong interpersonal skills, including the ability to: Listen, Persuade and influence.
  • Provide effective advice and support.



Working with People

  • Influence and motivate others.
  • Develop productive working relationships with stakeholders and colleagues.
  • Develop collaborative relationships with other organisations.

Using Resources

  • Manages finances for area of responsibility.
  • Ensure an effective functional approach to use of resources.
  • Achieving results.
  • Develop customer focused services.
  • Improve organisational performance.
  • Goal focused, positive and resilient with the determination to support Be First in developing its organisational potential and outcomes for its customers and communities.

Facilitating Change

  • Lead organisational change
  • Managing self and personal skills
  • Encourage others and take ownership of own professional development and personal networks.