Nick joined Bellingham Wallace as a Senior Associate, a leadership role responsible for delivering and growing our virtual CFO service. We spent time with Senior Associate, Nick Savill to find out what a day in the life of a Senior Associate is like.
Let’s get started, we’re really interested to hear your background at the bank and how you found your role at Bellingham Wallace.
I had been in banking and finance at the BNZ for a while, so after I finished my Divisional CFO role I was keen to get my hands dirty, so I decided to go into the front line! I went into a Relationship Manager role at BNZ in Highbrook to run a client portfolio of 30 clients, which were highly complex business relationships. I got to know Cam Wallace well - he was head of Business Development at the bank and we formed a tight bond.
When he moved to Bellingham Wallace I wanted to know more about what he was doing, so we had a coffee and I could see that he was making some good moves - bringing in complementary services in deep and dynamic advisory at Bellingham Wallace. I liked the look of it, I was ready for change and knew the guys well. I knew Mike Atkinson through having worked with him when I was at the bank.
Bellingham Wallace has a different way about them. The level of knowledge and depth of relationships and how they get on with their clients stood them apart! The quality of information and insight made my job as a banker much easier. I behave with my clients the same way as they do so I knew it would be a good fit with advisory and it is a sweet fit!
What’s a day in the life at Bellingham Wallace like for you as Senior Associate, leading the VCFO and Bank Advisory service offering?
My role at Bellingham Wallace is partly bank advisory to clients, with responsibilities on four advisory boards and the rest of the time a CFO for one of our clients. That opportunity came about when a client’s CFO gave notice, and the owners were concerned that there would be no one to manage the finance team. They were worried that the core of the business might slip by, such as looking after suppliers, watching the business performance, making enough cash in the can to mitigate risk, as well as the strategic side of the business. So I have stepped in and found so many opportunities to get them into top gear and move them along.
You’re at a BBQ: how would you describe Bellingham Wallace to others? How is it different compared to a traditional CA firm?
I always have a real challenge describing what I do! Business Advisory doesn’t make a lot of sense to a lot of people. Part of what makes Bellingham Wallace stand apart is that we have outstanding, high-profile, meaningful clients. We can get in deep with them and have a solid relationship. We work with the complexity and size of the business. We help them to solve their problems, grow, and become better!
How has your previous experience in the banking industry helped you in Bellingham Wallace?
In banking, you are selling a financial product. Understanding financial performance, outlook and risks, and relationships with businesses is a crucial part before we can lend to them. Under the right circumstances, you need to complete detailed due diligence, including financial position, performance, and assessment. The level of insight is not dissimilar to how we evaluate business here. Banks are backward looking - looking at the track record and the appropriateness to lend. Bellingham Wallace is looking forward as to how you steer the business in the right direction.
Tell us about the VCFO service that you provide. How are you finding it and how do clients respond to this way of being directly involved in their business?
Right now I am on a secondment into a CFO role for a client, [but we also offer VCFO services to our clients, where we support them on a monthly basis]. I’m loving being on site as you get in-depth with the client, learn a lot more about the business, and process things thoroughly. It is a satisfying experience especially in manufacturing as it is completely different.
"what I really love is the unrivaled variety here, which is very stimulating. The clients are awesome!"
The business is made up of aspirational people who are thinking, ‘How can we be better, grow and build our brand, and have a bigger market impact!’ They are in a position where they are doing well and focus on doing better - it is refreshing and motivating to be part of it. We will help them through all of that, fulfill the CFO job, figure out what it is we could do better, and find the right person to come into the business. It is a really great relationship - they are a long-serving client of Bellingham Wallace and are well respected and appreciated. We are motivated to make sure we have more of these clients, where we operate broader and deeper, and where we will move heaven and earth to service them!
What drives and motivates you? Where do you see your career heading?
I am committed to Bellingham Wallace, studying, and to seeing my CFO role through. I like what we do here at Bellingham Wallace. The CFO role is interesting. But what I really love is the unrivaled variety here, which is very stimulating. The clients are awesome!
Why, overall, would you choose to be a Senior Associate at Bellingham Wallace?
You get the opportunity to grow, develop and learn, and we have great clients. We have great relationships with great clients and there is an unrivalled opportunity of involvement with these clients. We are small enough that we are agile and can do things differently. We are nimble and agile.
What’s one word to describe what it’s like working for Bellingham Wallace?
Dynamic. Every day can be completely different from the next, sometimes you are doing something you've done 100 times or something you've never done. You are meeting with new clients one day and working with legacy clients on their strategy day the next. Every day is totally different and all require a different skill set.
At Bellingham Wallace, we have a diverse range of clients and services who offer the team challenging, complex, and interesting work and a collaborative and supportive atmosphere where people genuinely care about each other's success. Bellingham Wallace is committed to people’s growth and development, with opportunities to step up every day. Future leaders can contribute to the growth of others while growing their own skills too. It is a non-corporate environment that fosters growth and individuality - and where you can accelerate your career.