23 April 2019
Finance is an important element of any business. For an organisation like ours, which is a registered charity and is run on a not-for-profit basis, there are added complications.
Ours is not a straightforward process of gross sales less expenses equals net profit, in the usual three line accounts system. We have services delivered under contract for the NHS; we have services provided to paying customers through our trading subsidiaries; and we have services delivered to achieve charitable objectives.
Financial accountability and transparency are vital, particularly to maintain public confidence when we are spending charitable donations.
With public sector spending being under constant pressure, it is really important for us to maximise the value of NHS contract payments, whilst ensuring our high quality care standards are never compromised.
These are some of the challenges faced by DDRC Finance Manager Richard Wate. Having come from a more traditional background of manufacturing businesses, Richard certainly had a lot of questions for DDRC when he arrived. We actually found it quite healthy to be challenged by someone who does not accept that things are done that way just because that is how they have always been done.
The Early Years – On The Move
Richard was raised in Scotland and educated in St Andrews and Edinburgh. He excelled at Maths from an early age and completed his Maths A-level at age 16, going on to start University in Salford at age 17, studying Accountancy and Finance.
It was many years before he had accumulated the relevant qualifications and senior experience that would allow him to qualify as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (FCMA).
Richard’s first job was working for Unigate, the milk company, in Liverpool. His career started with them on a graduate accountancy programme and after two years he moved with Unigate to Aldershot, then a couple of years later on again to South Wales. It was in Wales that he met his first wife and started a family.
Leaving Unigate, Richard began work with ASW Ltd, a major steel manufacturing company, initially in Wales and then moved on to Sheffield. He enjoyed working for a company that created tangible materials that were used in an array of interesting major engineering projects, such as the creation of a revolutionary flyover at Marsh Mills in Plymouth. The company had even built landing craft for D-Day back in the Second World War – although Richard is keen to point out that this was long before he worked there!
Next he was ‘head-hunted’ to work as the Finance Manager for Remploy, a company originally founded by the post-war government, specialising in providing employment for people with various disabilities. He worked for the furniture manufacturing division of Remploy in Swansea, where he progressed from Finance Manager to General Manager of that division. At that time they were making furniture for schools and offices.
Settling in Plymouth
Seemingly having experienced more moves than a gypsy (!), in 2002 Richard moved to Plymouth, as Finance Manager for a company called Sea Structures, who carried out coastal protection work and built sea structures such as piers.
He became involved with a company called SouthWestFD which provides part-time and temporary Finance Managers, leading to him working for a wide variety of local companies involved in matters such as landscaping, children’s furniture, winches, spinning wool, making books and selling underfloor heating.
In 2013 he took up a part-time position as Finance Manager here at DDRC. He was attracted by the opportunity to work for a charitable organisation with an ethical purpose driving it. Even as a straight-forward, number-crunching, kind of guy, he admits that gave him a ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling. According to Richard there is an interesting blend here of charitable, NHS and private sector dynamics all at play and working out how best to ensure they complement one another is an ongoing challenge.
Life Behind The Scenes
Outside of the world of finance Richard lives with his second wife Zoe and their two chocolate Labradors, enjoying long walks around Devon and Cornwall and taking an interest in old railways.
In 2015 Richard donated a kidney to wife Zoe, after a previous kidney that she had received some years before started to fail. We are pleased to report both Richard and Zoe are now in good health, enjoying life, with 6 children and 4 grand-children between them.
At DDRC Richard is to be found quietly ensconced in a small room on the first floor of the building, away from where most of the clinical and training work occurs. However he says that he still feels the ‘palpable pride’ emitted from those staff who are working in direct contact with our patients and students downstairs.
Ultimately, even as a charity, if we fail to manage our finances appropriately we will not be in a position to deliver the work and charitable objectives that we do. The quiet work behind the scenes may not always receive the glory and recognition, but it provides the stable shoulders on which our ‘superstar’ customer facing clinicians, technicians and trainers stand.