Lady Margaret Hall, a college in the University of Oxford, has a clear vision of the future and strategy for achieving it. The College wishes to appoint an Accountant who can play an active role in this process and in the initiation, development and implementation of longer-term strategic and financial plans.
LMH, as it is fondly known, was founded in 1878 with a dual passion for learning and for equality, making it possible for the first time for women to study at Oxford. Today, the College continues to draw inspiration from this great foundation vision. It is now a co-educational academic community of 400 undergraduate and 180 postgraduate students, utterly committed to research and scholarship and to effective, highly personalised teaching and learning for students from all backgrounds.
Lady Margaret Hall has a turnover of £11m and an endowment of £39m. Although not large by corporate standards, university colleges are complex environments that require sophisticated and sensitive management. The Accountant will therefore demonstrate an ability to grasp the complexities of the College whilst providing a vision of how the finance function can evolve to improve the overall management and efficiency of the College. This will include compliance with charity SORP accounting.
Essential to success in the role is the ability to work with a wide range of people with sensitivity and integrity and to demonstrate leadership in developing the future of Lady Margaret Hall. In particular, it will be necessary to build good relationships with the Principal and academic Fellows of the College, who constitute its Governing Body, and with members of the College’s non-academic staff. An ability to work with individual students is also important, as is a general sympathy for the College’s academic and educational ethos.
Reporting directly to the Treasurer, the Accountant is central to the good running of the College and its future success. This is an opportunity to play an influential role, supporting the ambitions of the College. Whilst leading the Accounts Department and ensuring that all financial matters are dealt with in accordance with legislation and ethical accounting practice are the principal responsibilities of the Accountant, he/she will also play a role in the development of financial strategy, and will be responsible for the flow of information to the Governing Body and external parties where necessary.
The Accountant is directly, and through leadership of the Accounts Office, responsible for:
- Presenting to the Treasurer financial plans which properly balance College aspirations and priorities with its long term financial viability.
- Leading and co-ordinating the College planning and budgeting activity within that overall framework, and producing timely and accurate reporting against those plans; advising on options and financial analysis of strategic and operational plans.
- Ensuring the College is properly resourced, in terms of people, knowledge, systems and procedures to ensure compliance with all appropriate regulatory, statutory and fiscal requirements.
- Advising the Treasurer on the cost implications of University and College policy developments.
- Developing a suite of Management Information and KPIs, to include development and production of dashboards and reporting packs.
- Scenario modelling to support the College’s plans and ambitions.
- Maintaining ethical and financial standards commensurate with College’s charitable status.
Annual Accounts and Statutory Returns
- Production of annual statutory accounts consistent with the requirements of the Charities SORP.
- Exercise appropriate judgement in identifying appropriate treatment.
- Manage audit and auditors – establish and maintain accounting and office procedures and ensure these are consistent with audit standards.
- Generate all statutory returns, including charity commission reports.
- Preparation of annual HEFCE statement for University.
- Leadership of the year end process to ensure timely and accurate completion and use professional judgement to ensure compliance with regulatory, statutory and auditing requirements.
Management Accounts and Management Information
- In conjunction with the Treasurer, senior managers and the Management Accountant, develop annual budget and long range forecasts for consideration by Finance Committee. Advise Finance Committee on the key issues.
- Work with the Management Accountant, managers and other College members to ensure that appropriate charging mechanisms are in place, ensure that tight budgetary controls are maintained and promote a culture of tight financial control.
- Ensure that budgets and long range plans are in line with the College’s strategy.
- Provide leadership in production and development of monthly management accounts.
- Prepare and monitor balance sheets and oversee reconciliation processes.
- Provide financial expertise in the development of existing systems and ad hoc financial reviews.
- Produce ad-hoc reports for Governing Body and other College Committees.
- Prepare for and attend Finance Committee meetings.
Development and Investments
- Work with the Development team on the recording of donations and donations forecast.
- Produce periodic information on the investment portfolio.
- Manage detailed Endowment and Restricted Fund accounts and liaise with Fund holders.
Trading and VAT
- Produce and assess the financial results of the College’s trading activity (Conference and Estates companies).
- Managing VAT between the College and subsidiary companies in consistent manner, in line with current HMRC practice and guidance.
- Ensure fiscal and regulatory compliance and advise Finance Committee on any underlying issues.
- Oversee VAT returns.
- Manage and review College’s partial exemption method.
- Provide statistical information as required.
- Attend termly College Accountants Group meeting.
- Preparation of information for College Contributions Committee.
- Manage day to day cash flow.
- Perform regular review of banking and loan arrangements and service costs.
- Provide loan providers with Covenant and other Management information as required.
- Oversee maintenance of fixed assets register.
- Ensure all disposals are properly authorised and accounted for.
- Assist the Treasurer in managing the College’s Shared Equity scheme.
- Line manage the Assistant Accountant, Accounts Payable Officer, the Payroll and Banking Officer, Student Finance Officer and Apprentice.
- Carry out annual personal development reviews, develop staff and ensure all training needs are met.
- Attendance at various committees, including providing support to the Treasurer at meetings of the Governing Body and the Finance, Student Grants and Investment Committees.
- Keep up to date with legislation on finance, tax, VAT, NI and other relevant matters and advise the Treasurer of any material changes and any actions required.
- It is essential for the post holder to recognise that the exact nature of the post and duties within it may be subject to on-going review and adaptation, in response to changing internal and external factors.
Qualified accountant (ICAEW or ACCA) with at least 5 years post qualification experience, or equivalent
Experience of leading, managing and developing a team
Comfortable behaving in line with the College Values
Experience of preparing accounts under Charities SORP
Good systems skills, with advanced excel and use of reporting tools
Excellent written and oral communication skills
Pro-active approach and a hands-on attitude
Ability to build good working relationships with people across the College and wider University community, including senior members, students, and non-academic staff
Ability to both initiate and develop appropriate financial systems and to make these work in practice
Working within a complex endowments and funds environment
An understanding of higher education combined with an appreciation of - and commitment to - the academic aims of an Oxford College and its structures of governance
Experience of working in a commercial environment
Terms and conditions
The appointment will be full time on a fixed term basis to cover maternity leave and any offer of employment is conditional on verification of the candidate’s eligibility to work in this country and 2 satisfactory references of which one should be from the current or most recent employer. There will be an initial probationary period of 6 months.
Contributory Pension Scheme (Universities Superannuation Scheme).
One meal per day provided free of charge when the kitchens are open.
Hours of Work
37.5 hours per week, normal working hours may be negotiated and hours can be annualised to suit the right candidate.
A full time member of staff will be entitled to 36 days holiday (personal days and Bank Holidays)
During the initial probationary period, notice will be one month on either side. Subject to satisfactory review and confirmation of the post the notice period will be three months on either side.
In accordance with College policy in response to the pandemic, the role is presently home based. Although some members of the accounts team do occasionally come to College, the department is successfully operating remotely. It is very likely that this position will endure for most of the period of the maternity cover.