Game On: What financial issues should you be looking out for this year?

CT Associate, Roger Maddams discusses what emerging financial issues to look out for this year.

The cricket bat has had its last smear of linseed oil applied, the beach volleyball net has been rolled up and that wayward boules shot has been retrieved from under the bush where it’s been since early Spring – it’s new season time for the behemoths that are football and rugby. What preparation has been done, what are the tactics, the key fixture dates, the support systems in place and the fitness work undertaken? And how does this tenuous introduction link to emerging financial issues to keep an eye out for?

1.What pre-season preparation have you done in getting ready for a possible (or likely) In Depth Assessment from the HCA?  

Considering the five themes of Structure, Strategy, Financial Resilience, Risk Management and Governance, can you:

  1. Gather evidence in electronic format to support each theme quickly?
  2. Demonstrate use of appropriate and up to date benchmarking information on proving Value for Money in financial and wider social-value metrics, in a way that permeates through the themes?
  3. Demonstrate identification of what the key “Red Lines” are in the business, and the level of clearance you have against these in absolute and percentage terms?
  4. Demonstrate clear linkages between key documents such as the Strategic Risk Map, the Corporate Risk Appetite expressed in its different facets, the Red Lines and the monthly financial reporting systems?
  5. Do you have an idea when this key fixture is likely to take place? A regular dialogue with your HCA contact is advised, to “keep them onside” with your operations and to allow you to get a likely heads-up as to fixture dates.

2.What are your tactics around possible merger & acquisition activity?

Defensive or attacking? Financial analysis should be undertaken to identify the main current and future competitors in your region and surrounds, to understand the markets and new areas that these competitors were focusing on, which markets they are withdrawing from, and to see if there are any areas where direct competition would indicate that you might be better not providing that service. What is your organisation’s USP? Can this be articulated clearly, supported by suitable metrics?

3. In terms of fitnesshave you dedicated enough time and resource into having your unencumbered stock “fit and ready to go” to support your treasury strategy?

The process of charging stock can be a timely process of up to 12 months involving legal and admin support; getting all the necessary documentation in place “now” rather than when the heat is on. Comprehensive checklists, responsibilities and evidence storage systems for new developments coming through should be put in place.

4. Have you put the right levels of support into your long-term business plan?

Have you taken adequate guidance in settling on the most appropriate assumptions that underpin the plan? Is the plan built using housing-specific software packages rather than an inherently riskier own-devised spreadsheet? Have you considered differential inflation rates for different material areas of spend such as staff costs or build costs? What are your assumptions around rent changes post-2020 and can you demonstrate that the your stress tests on the plan have a read-across to your Strategic Risk Map?   

5. Lastly, can you make your Asset and Liabilities Register a key player for the whole of the team rather than being somewhat on the sidelines?Is it a document that is widely available online to teams such as customer services, asset management and finance to easily and effectively support their day to day work in serving their customers?

Have a good season!

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