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Julia Wilson, 3i FD interview: the outtakes

Julia Wilson 3i FD

Financial Director was finally granted an audience with 3i group finance
director Julia Wilson in August, fully two years after we first approached her
with the idea of an interview. So much time had passed between our first call to
3i and the press office returning it with a date and time that she had gone away
and started a family (twins), restructured, refinanced and repositioned the
business in the interim. So we made sure we covered a lot of ground in the hour
we had with her – and of course we didn’t have room for all of it in her
profile. So here are the other bits we thought worth sharing with you.

On being a tax geek
I trained as a tax specialist, but I always knew I wanted to do more than that.
I have always found tax interesting because it can often be about strategy; tax
planning can be very much at the real board-level strategic thinking so that
introduced me to a lot of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions very
early on in my career. All the companies I have worked for have been active in M
&A

On outsourcing talent
Infosys (through whom 3i outsources some finance back-office functions) has the
ability to transition its people in and train them up in a way that, as a
relatively small organisation, we don’t. And the pool of private equity
experienced people is relatively small so you are always at risk from turnover –
so there are significant but hidden savings that come from the ability to tap
into a good group of people

On keeping up with regulatory changes
There is so much flux at the moment around regulation and the financial services
industry generally, I think we just have to accept that there is more regulation
in many forms coming. But I think our responsibility for all of our stakeholders
is making sure that that regulation achieves what it sets out to achieve, not
just turning into a bureauocratic process

On sexy buyout deals post-deleveraging 3i

My absolute responsibility is making sure our group maintains a conservative
balance sheet

On how long FDs should spend on business strategy versus financial
issues in an average day

About 60 percent of my time is spent on business strategy. But strategy and
finance are so entwined I find it quite hard to distinguish between the two

On the risk of returning to the bad old super-deal, high leverage,
overpriced days of private equity

It’s about good-quality management information, good forecasting, so making sure
that we don’t drift into something and say ‘oh, how did that happen, how did we
get to that position?’

For the full interview with Julia Wilson, please click
here

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