The UK’s private rented sector is growing by around 260,000 households every year. Neighbour was established in the UK in 2014, to capitalise on this opportunity through provision of a new concept in private rented apartments. Neighbour is on a mission to create the very best apartment-living communities that the UK, and maybe the world. It offers eco-friendly rental apartments which feature Scandinavian inspired design elements that look great and will improve residents’ quality of life. Situated in locations with good transport connections and local amenities, it also offers services that will improve quality of life, at good prices.
Neighbour aims to be the UK’s industry leader for private rentals – by offering rented homes that are fully managed, highly affordable and hassle-free to live in.
The team behind Neighbour previously ran a 15,000 unit PRS portfolio in Scandinavia. Their aim is to become one of the largets PRS portfolios in th UK Their target is to build a substantial business of 10,000 PRS units by 2020.
Following an introduction from their Accountant, we met the three founders during the initial start-up phase.
The requirement was to find a senior high-quality qualified finance director or controller who would manage the finances at the strategic level, yet also be hands-on and capable of managing the entire day-to-day functions in the early stages of the business. As we were not provided with a job description or person specification we had to create one from the information provided and discussions with the client.
Indeed, this was a unique start-up with no rule book to refer to. Key requirements included setting up all financial systems, financial and management controls and reporting, company secretarial and statutory reporting, dashboard and KPIs, working on the business plan and financial projections and modelling, raising funding and liaising with investors.
As ever, strong accounting and commercial skills and formal qualifications were the starting point; however, personality and values were also crucial. Our client wanted to recruit a true partner with a record of success and achievement and excellent communication skills. We needed to find an all-rounder who had shared values, yet independently minded with a voice that would be heard.
Having invested time getting to know the business model and key requirements we now had a clear brief from which to identify a final short-list of our three recommended candidates to present to the founders for interview, keeping their time and effort to a minimum. In fact total time spent on the finance director recruitment by the founders was under 5 hours, comprising the initial briefing meeting followed by three face-to-face interviews of our short-listed candidates.
The successful candidate, chosen from our short-list was a chartered certified accountant, who had over 10 years’ of diverse, yet highly relevant experience under their belt, including accountant of a hotel group, group financial controller of self-storage company, and group financial controller of a private equity backed healthcare company. Experience of buying and selling businesses, business start-up and an enthusiastic hands-on demeanour helped to secure the deal. The finance director commenced in January 2015 and the directors at Neighbour are experiencing the benefits of a good finance director, leaving them to focus on growing the business.