FD Q&A – the year ahead: Steven Biddlecombe, G4S Facilities Management

Steven Biddlecombe, G4S Facilities Management’s FD, gives his views on the year ahead

What have been the biggest challenges for your business over the past year, and what role did finance play in addressing them?

The biggest challenges have involved augmenting the efficiency of both operational and financial processes within G4S by streamlining key processes around debtor and creditor management as well as reducing the manual work within GL.

This has required a significant number of diverse teams from different disciplines such as finance, commercial and operational teams, also engaging central finance resource to work together in achieving success.

What are the key political and economic risks/opportunities you face in the year ahead?

The forthcoming changes to employee-based tax and liabilities will have an impact on our costs for the National Living Wage and the Apprenticeship Levy.

That said, we see the implementation of the National Living Wage as a positive move, even though the overwhelming majority of our employees are paid at higher then £7.20/hour. We recognise that this does place pressure to maintain pay differentials for staff just above this pay point and as such, this will lead to an upward movement on pay for service delivery staff and some of our supervisor teams.

Which capex projects will you be focusing on in 2017, and how will these be financed?

Capex is likely to be focused on driving efficiencies from our existing physical assets and the people that support them. This is best achieved by the enhancement of our systems, both financial and non-financial such as dedicated projects to improve shared service ccentre outputs or additions to facilities management operational systems. Large improvements are anticipated for relatively modest investments.

How do you expect the balance of your role to change in the coming year; between compliance and forward-looking/strategic? And why?

As the second-largest private sector employer in the world, the balance between compliance and forward-looking strategy will remain unchanged.

G4S FM has spent significant time and energy developing a strong control environment, which is especially important in the facilities management sector. We also spend a reasonably large amount of time forecasting and, given the current economic uncertainty, this will continue to be a priority.

Advice for other FDs for the coming year?

My message would be to embrace change and be prepared to adapt quickly. Few things are certain today other than the likelihood that, for most businesses, 2017 will ultimately differ from the plans you currently have in place.

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