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Smells like team spirit

The finance team working for Octopus Investments is well named.

Responsible for more than 120 limited companies, 18 plcs, 200 revenue streams and more than 160 bank accounts, Mike Coker, its finance manager for investment products – who with his team won the 2010 Accountancy Age Finance Team of the Year gong – must feel like he needs eight arms.

Managing three different teams that control businesses with average assets of £40m requires regular meetings of the finance team. Each week Coker tasks two members of his team to come up with development targets for the business, “whether enhancement to the payables process, or how they run reports,” he tells Financial Director. The finance team knows it must present something that adds value to the rest of the department in each meeting.

Coker attributes the success of the team to its ability to align the finance function with the needs and direction of the rest of the business. It came up with a mission statement for itself comprising its own values, then set about aligning that with the company’s strategy.

“It is incredibly important to know where the business is going. The finance team can be seen as a back office function,” Coker says. “We have now transformed into a business partner.”

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