As an accountant by practice, figures speak volumes to me. From examining new markets to identifying the feasibility of projects and reviewing our team expansion plans and assessing successes; the stats, numbers and digits all need to add up.

For many, the thought of mathematical equations, or statistical reports can bring on a cold sweat. But what if I told you could increase your career prospects within the same company and earn a 3-10% salary increase, just by becoming financially savvy? What if I also told you that this is possible even if you work for yourself?

Talking the talk
Whether you work for an SME, a corporation or for yourself, the financials that keep the business ticking over are entangled across various areas, which on face value can appear to be a minefield. Getting to grips with who pays for what, when, how and most importantly how much is key. Once you understand this cycle, your eyes will be opened to the value of each business asset.

“Yes, but why would that concern me?” I hear you ask… You need to think about how you position yourself, your value and your authority within the company structure.

The ability to walk, talk and think like a CEO, comes with the ability to visualize opportunity
and growth. Working alongside someone who is trying to grow and develop a business requires a multitude of varying skills, and the more in tune you can be with the direction the business is moving in, the better.

Whilst it pains me to say it, there are still instances where PAs are overlooked and misjudged in terms of authority and job descriptions. Being able to “talk the talk” in meetings, relating proposals and concepts to their financial viability and worth, will assist in blowing any detractors out of the water. By demonstrating that you are financially aware of how businesses work and function, you can prove that you not only have the skillset to aid with the day-to-day running of the business, but you have a keen interest and are capable of helping support and grow the businesses financially. A PA with this kind of financial aptitude will be incredibly valuable.

Tightening the purse strings
As with everything in the world of business there’s always a time for review, and the financial reviews are usually examined under a bright spotlight. Taking charge and assisting with this process can pay dividends. Look at areas where you can lead on generating savings, or get more for your money. Take every cost you manage and put it under scrutiny. What you are currently being charged by your hotel partners? Stationary suppliers? Caterers? Conference venues? IT company? See if there is room for you to negotiate lower rates, or look elsewhere for new quotes. Do not feel bad
about trying to lower costs, it shows you are financially aware in your business landscape and confident enough to stand your ground. Your directors will respect and appreciate your financial acumen, alongside the thousands of pounds which can be saved over the financial year.

Scheduling an annual review, and arranging a supplier “beauty parade”, is a great way of getting an idea of how competitive your current supplier is on price and negotiating the best deal with onfidence.

Becoming a Dragon
Whilst idea generation and creativity may not be everyone’s cup of tea, once you are in the swing of looking for savings and profits, you may stumble across a few ideas of your own. You only need to watch one episode of Dragon’s Den, to see some pretty innovative ideas get shot down by the likes of Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones. But those that do gain Dragon investment, have done so not just because of their idea, but because of the financial understanding and presentation.

It’s great to generate ideas which can diversify businesses. But it’s even better to showcase ideas
which are supported with informed financial grounding, as this puts you in great stead to be recognised as someone with an expansive skillset, and communicates you have a firm financial indication and appreciation for how businesses work. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s pretty hard not to be impressed when being presented with a creative idea. So much time is spent on the visual aspects and relaying of information and research, but even better is when this is further supported with cost implications and/or savings, and how a business can benefit in the short or long run and profit as a result. Financial forecasting and update reports against activity show you’re fully “accountable” and financially mindful of your idea and, in turn, the effects on the business.

Show me the money!
Asking for a salary increase can be one of the hardest things to do in your career, but it needn’t be. Salary increases are awarded to those who are considered a financial asset to the business; a good investment so to speak. So, after plucking up the courage to summon the meeting to discuss the salary increase, it’s time to strategise and consider what you are worth financially to the usiness. Put the money where your mouth is, and calculate your worth by putting figures against your
successes.

This can be done in a number of ways – you need to consider if you have:
1 Generated, implemented or changed any inhouse strategies or procedures which have saved the business money. Remember time = money, so if there is anything which has also saved time, start totting up the hours and equate it to a monetary equivalent.
2 Negotiated with or switched suppliers to reduce costs. Calculate the savings as a result, and watch how the pounds stack up over the financial year.
3 Driven the overall profit of the business forward. This could be through generating new business ideas, developing staff training programs to increase productivity and therefore profit, or improving customer relationships.

Depending on the nature of the business you work for, there are a multitude of opportunities which are in your reach. Calculating and clearly communicating how much money you have helped the business generate and save in turn helps calculate and communicate your own professional worth. As the saying goes “Money talks”.

Whether you work for yourself, or are employed, the opportunity to make savings, increase profit
and grow the business is all around you. It boils down to making your career your own business;
look after the finances and the finances will start to look after you.”

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Claire Lister is the Owner/MD of Pitman Training Group (www.pitman-training.com). Pitman is a market leader in the PA and secretarial training industry, delivering exceptional results for tens of thousands of students each year. Pitman also provide ... (Read More)

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