Accountancy – what does that word mean to you? We all have our own thoughts and feelings on this world of numbers. Some say its a headache. Some say its “boring”. But we promise you, this blog will not fall foul of these thoughts.
We sat down with Transparent‘s Co-founder Sarah Walker FCA AssocRICS to discuss her career in accountancy and how she found her way into this industry.
How did you begin your career in accountancy?
Sadly enough I had always wanted to be an accountant, although on the other side of the fence, my work experience while at school was with HMRC! I started my career at a local firm of accountants after my A-levels where I trained to be a chartered accountant
And how long have you been an accountant?
I started in accountancy when I was 18 and qualified 4 years later so have been working in the industry now for 26 years!
So, why did you decide to get involved in property management?
I was invited by a property management company to tender for the production of service charge accounts for their clients 6 years ago. It was while that I was completing these accounts that I realised that the competency levels of financial staff working in property management was vast, some very good and some very bad. It was my feeling that leaseholders and clients deserve to be given a solid accounting function when dealing with their funds to ensure accuracy and transparency across the board.
I believe that as an overhead, finance is often not given the investment that it deserves, when its actually represents the backbone of the company and its clients main priority.
I decided to start TPM with Lewis Cassar as I felt that there was a real gap in the market for an owner of a property management company to have so much impact on the financial control and importance of it within the industry and for its clients
How does your job in accounting affect our property managers, and vice versa?
Being a qualified accountant with over 6 years experience working on different block management software, I am able to provide details accurate accounts for the property managers, as well as completing financial training with all PM’s to give our clients. Our transparent and competent financial process enable our property managers to give on the spot financial information to leaseholders and clients.
The inclusive training enables the property manager to successfully run the block finances often to budget
Full financial reconciliations are completed when a block is taken on to ensure that we set off with the correct financial information and questions asked of the previous agents. All agents work differently so its important that we ‘TPM’ finance check what we are receiving into a standardised format
What documentation do you produce for clients and leaseholders?
As a managing agent we are obliged to produce annual service charge accounts for our leaseholders and clients each year. However TPM go much further than this and prepare clients financial snapshots on a basis of their choosing so that we can provide the transparency that we are named after
How long do certain documents take to produce? What is the procedure?
We must provide service charge accounts within 6 months of the year end for a block, but we aim to produce them within 3 months of the year end. This is a constant goal that we strive for, which Covid, has affected but we are looking forward to having the policy firmly back in place!
Are there any regulations that affect your job, and producing these documents?
As a chartered accountant, I am regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and have to undertake continuous training to support my qualification. In a regional property management office, such financial qualification is extremely rare in finance staff and I am proud to be setting such levels in the industry.
What is an accountant perspective on the industry? Is there anything you would like to see changed in the future?
My perspective is that there is a lot to do to improve the financial control in the industry. There is good regulation in place but needs tighter financial regulation for clients funds, we are entrusted with lots of funds, its important that it remains in qualified hands! I am an approved trainer for chartered accountants and would love in the future for TPM to offer a full financial qualification to staff providing solid career progression and giving clients piece of mind. Ultimately only financial trained people should be dealing with finances and the industry needs to provide more financial transparency to remove historically bad stigma’s.