Success Stories – In conversation with Doris Bernard

With over 30 years of international experience in luxury hospitality financial leadership, Doris Bernard is an industry icon. Doris is now Vice President of Corporate Finance for Kempinski Hotels, a role she has held for the last seven years, placed by FM Recruitment. Responsible for the senior leadership throughout the global Corporate Finance structure of the Kempinski Group, Doris is integral to the brand’s continued success internationally. Kempinski currently manages 79 hotels in 34 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, China, South-East Asia and the Americas. 

A strong communicator and team leader, Doris joined Kempinski from Rocco Forte Hotels, where she held the role of Group Financial Controller, overseeing 13 properties in Europe and the Middle East. 

FM Recruitment continues to have a long-standing relationship with Doris, supporting her career trajectory, having placed her in several financial leadership roles with Rocco Forte Hotels, the Ascot Group, the Cliveden Group and the Conrad London. The collaboration with FM Recruitment equally extends to recruiting senior members of her team. 

In conversation with Doris Bernard 

How did you get into hospitality finance? 
First and foremost, there was hospitality – and ‘Grappa-Parfait’ – of which I made a lot when I started my hotel apprenticeship in 1986, with the first department to be covered being the kitchen (the hotel apologised and said, ‘Well, someone has to start in the kitchen…’). However, I loved it and did not want my time there to end. After the third extension, the ultimatum was given: Either I change the apprenticeship to become a chef or move on to the next department. I moved, and with my good instinct for numbers, logic, organisation and analysis, it was not a great surprise to fall for finance before long. And the rest, as they say, is history. 

What are the most important aspects of financial roles in hospitality and how has the role evolved over the years?
The evolution is that there is definitely a much more prominent space for and faster pace of analysis. Today’s availability of data inevitably leads to more options of analysis, which in turn lead to more demands, from internal and external stakeholders. The trick is to investigate and understand what the real question is that we are trying to answer. Based on this, finance should be able to offer the most efficient and repeatable/robust solution. This integrated understanding of the business, paired with the understanding of the capabilities of finance systems, is one of the most important aspects of today’s finance roles. In short: Any financial analysis has to have a purpose and not be analysis for analysis’ sake. 

What do you consider your biggest achievement so far and why? 
Being still here, in finance, in hospitality. Temptations to move out of the industry existed, but the most compelling factor to stay has always been the amazing teams I have worked with. Leading a group of people who have a can-do attitude, a strong sense of commitment and a passion for hospitality and are fun to be with is one of the most rewarding and invigorating things in my career and, in fact, my daily work life. I hope that I am right in thinking that I have continuously contributed to making such teamwork happen. 

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their career in the industry?
Enjoy and commit to getting stuck in, roll up your sleeves, be curious and stay humble. Never stop learning throughout and engage with the very diverse workforce that you are likely to encounter. It will lead to a strong network of industry professionals and friends, which, if cultivated with sincerity and authenticity, carries you throughout your career. It is one of the best schools of life. 

What are the biggest opportunities in the hospitality industry as it recovers from the pandemic? 
The opportunity for a fresh approach, in a free spirit, to what hospitality is about. Offers that are interest-led versus the traditional guest segmentation (I very much like the Kempinski ‘Travel Your Way’ initiative). Basic human needs for belonging and community could be answered by hospitality through integrating local culture. A stronger desire for quality time with family and friends might come to the fore against a background of threats like the pandemic or climate change. We may see, for example, conference rooms used as co-working spaces to enable business travellers to combine remote working and extended family time. The inventiveness and flexibility that we have seen in many hotels when the pandemic hit are inspiring. I equally hope that the heightened appreciation for travel after the confinement creates a new buzz all-round.  

What would have been your Plan B?
When I started out, there was no Plan B; I did not apply for anything other than a hotel apprenticeship. Since then, I have sometimes joked that I would become a park ranger in a national park, taking care of footpath signage maintenance. I love walking and being out in the countryside and am fascinated by long-distance hiking paths (well signposted, of course). 

For support with your next career move or to improve your recruitment strategy, please contact FM Recruitment now using any of the below details: 

Office +44 20 8600 1160 I Email fm@fmrecruitment.co.uk
Chris Denison Smith +44 7775 711923 I Email chrisdenisonsmith@fmrecruitment.co.uk 
Andrea Shaw +44 7714 236469 I Email andreashaw@fmrecruitment.co.uk 

 

 

Property Finance Manager, London

We are seeking an experienced Financial Manager to join the team of a private property based in London.

Reporting to the Property Director the Property Finance Manager will be responsible for the Property Financial Accountant and Property Financial Assistant.

Duties include:

  • Monthly CAPEX and OPEX reconciliation in liaison with Finance Department, providing detailed Reports on CAPEX spend
  • Responsible for all property-related matters for UK, Europe and overseas properties
  • Review and maintain all leases and property contracts and ensure the organisation is adequately protected
  • Partner with satellite estates to offer financial advice
  • Review Contracts for all Rental properties and review rents, on a monthly basis
  • Maintain a Fixed Asset Register for Plant & Machinery along with a Vehicle Register for appropriate motor vehicles, including tractors and other off-road vehicles
  • Liaise with suppliers and contractors and other Corporate personnel
  • Organise work schedules for overseas employees in properties.

The ideal candidate will be flexible, able to work under pressure and meet deadlines. They should also be confident working within a team and also independently.

Candidates must be fully qualified (ACMA/ACCA/CIMA) with proven experience in a similar role, and French language is a plus but not essential.

For more information or to apply, please contact Andrea at fm@fmrecruitment.co.uk or call on 07714 236469

Assistant Financial Controller, Munich

Our client is an award-winning owner and operator of some of the most luxurious hotels, resorts and residences located in prime destinations around the world. They are renowned for creating unique hotels through distinctive design and a strong sense of place.  Candidates should have a passion for travel, as this opportunity will be the beginning of a long journey with this growing group.

As Assistant Controller you will have the following duties:

  • Assisting and providing financial guidance in the formulation and implementation of Strategic Plan, Budget and KPO´s
  • Assisting in the implementation and reviewing of financial controls and policies
  • Assisting in the analysis of financial and management reports
  • Assisting in the evaluation of existing internal control measures that apply to accounting procedures and computer systems
  • Employing adequate internal control procedures
  • Assisting in the management of internal and external audits when they occur
  • Assisting in ensuring all accounts are reconciled on monthly basis, reviews and approves those reconciliation’s
  • Providing administrative support to Management
  • Assisting in maintaining accurate and timely financial and operating information and ensures corporate deadlines are met
  • Assisting in control of inventory, credit, disbursements, deposits and remittances
  • Assisting in maintaining accurate and timely financial and operating information and ensure corporate deadlines are met

YOUR PROFILE

  • A minimum of three years’ experience within the Accounting department
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Strong problem-solving abilities
  • Additional qualifications: Bilanzbuchhalter / Certified Accountant
  • Previous experience within the hospitality industry is advantageous
  • Fluent in German and English

A competitive salary with excellent benefits will offered for this position.

For more information or to apply, please contact Andrea at fm@fmrecruitment.co.uk or call on +44 7714 236469

Why the role of Finance is pivotal for the recovery of the hospitality industry 

The Company Linchpin 

With the global economy currently undergoing a significant transformation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of financial leaders in navigating businesses through these unprecedented times has been propelled into the spotlight.

The impact of the pandemic has been felt globally and by most industries, but perhaps none so severely as the travel and hospitality sector. Financial leaders are now in a position where they must not only address major setbacks but provide long-term confidence and strengthen recovery and growth prospects.

Financial chiefs have experienced downturns in the past, following the fallout of the 2008 global financial crash, the war in Iraq and the September 11th terrorist attacks, however, nothing compares to the wide-reaching impact of the pandemic. Hospitality Financial Directors had to move quickly to protect their businesses as much as possible; negotiate with partners to limit exposure, campaign for the government to support the industry through this crisis and make tough decisions regarding furlough and redundancy to ensure that the business survived. These financial crisis management strategies were activated quickly, to help support the recovery which is now underway.

Speed of response and flawless execution is critical in any crisis to reduce its impact and provide confidence to all stakeholders. Through effective financial planning, Chief Financial Officers have driven the timely execution of improvement initiatives to reduce costs, overhaul procurement, revisit pricing strategies, as well as spearheading process improvements and innovations that add value to the company.

“Working smarter, recognising and minimising risks and exploiting opportunities will mean having to be constantly creative”. Howard Field, founder of FM Recruitment commented as he shared his views on strategies for finance as the industry recovers from the pandemic

Maintaining Confidence in the Company

Financial Directors are required to instil confidence in all internal and external stakeholders.

Internally - With so many employees on furlough or made redundant during the pandemic, transparency and honesty were crucial to build trust in the long-term prospects of the company and to maintain integrity. Financial Directors who were able to highlight the challenges ahead with strategies to overcome them were able to help companies communicate and maintain engagement with employees, who could otherwise have chosen to move on. Many hospitality companies have been able to focus on retraining and cross-training employees, using the opportunity to develop employees to adapt to the challenges after re-opening. Businesses that have managed to retain key talent over the period of closure will be best placed to grow the business as we move forward.

Externally – For many customers, how businesses acted during the pandemic will live long in their memories. Financial leaders, under pressure to maximise revenues and reduce costs, needed to weigh up the short-term gains against the long-term prospects and introduce more flexibility. For the most part, customers were hugely understanding and opted for flexible vouchers rather than full refunds and now finance leaders have responded by offering more relaxed cancellation terms to remove barriers, offer flexibility and build confidence to encourage future bookings.

All of this activity is underpinned by increased investor scrutiny to cut costs, grow revenue, and ensure control, which means financial leaders have had to become adept at managing multiple stakeholder requirements to inspire confidence and lead the way with the recovery of the industry.

The Future of Finance – Nurturing the Pipeline of Emerging Talent

According to several UK universities offering courses relating to hospitality and related financial studies, the number of overall undergraduates in hospitality studies has dropped in the last year. With the true impact of Brexit also yet to be clear, it seems likely that hospitality will face some real challenges in recruiting and retaining top talent in the near future.

Undergraduates are reconsidering their options, often tempted into continuing their studies or shifting towards other industries with seemingly more secure prospects. Never has it been more important to guide and nurture those who are showing interest in the hospitality industry.

In a Forbes article from 2020, Robert Parsons, Chief Financial Officer of Exclusive Resorts made an important observation noting “Today’s finance undergraduates absolutely have the necessary hard skills and drive to be successful in the workforce of today and tomorrow. Besides, their ambitions are not curtailed by outdated notions of career trajectories. All they need is an opportunity and then some mentorship. My approach to recruiting and cultivating top talent is to look for the right attitude and core problem-solving skills over just the finance hard skills, and then create opportunities for career advancement.

As active members of HOSPA, Chris and Andrea at FM Recruitment dedicate themselves to mentoring young talent as they progress through their careers. Our guiding hand can help businesses and candidates to optimise skills, showcase the opportunities to progress and help the hospitality industry recover and grow in the post-pandemic world.

For support with your next career move or to improve your recruitment strategy, please contact FM Recruitment now using any of the below details:

Office +44 20 8600 1160 I Email fm@fmrecruitment.co.uk
Chris Denison Smith +44 7775 711923 I Email chrisdenisonsmith@fmrecruitment.co.uk
Andrea Shaw +44 7714 236469 I Email andreashaw@fmrecruitment.co.uk

IT Manager, Turks & Caicos

An exciting opportunity has arisen and we are seeking an enthusiastic IT Manager to join the team of a luxury resort based in the Turks & Caicos.

The role will be responsible for Information Technology issues, products, software development and services at the property. The successful candidate will provide user training, consultation and support of all property/site systems, network enhancements, hardware and software support. They will also maintain inventory of all hardware products and software licenses, and will review maintenance agreements.

Candidates should have a minimum of 5 years’ experience in Hospitality, Operations, and IT support roles along with minimum of 2 years of Supervisory / Managerial experience. They will also be responsible for the uninterrupted support of all information technology (IT) systems, business and office systems (front and back office software), computer networks, telecommunications, information security, and user support throughout the resort.

A full job description and salary information are available upon application.

If this sounds like a position for you then contact Andrea Shaw at fm@fmrecruitment.co.uk or call on +44 7714 236469 for more information

Financial Controller, London

We are working with a London based Restaurant and Property Development group who are looking to in-source their accounting function due to significant planned growth in the London market.

The ideal candidate will have multi-site owner/operator experience and experience bringing in house an accounting function or setting up an accounting function in a start-up environment.

Offering a competitive salary, some of the key responsibilities will include:

  • Produce monthly management accounts
  • Proven IT skills including advanced Excel
  • Proven experience of implementing SOPs
  • Experience in the restaurant industry
  • Liaising with external accountants
  • Reporting to the owner and her advisors
  • Overseeing daily reconciliations
  • Inhouse payroll
  • Overseeing Purchase ledger and supplier payments

If this position is of interest, please get in touch with Andrea at fm@fmrecruitment.co.uk or call on +44 7714 236469.

Management Accountant, London

We are seeking an experienced multi-site, high volume Management Accountant/Finance Manager with at least 1 – 2 years management accounting experience in restaurants or multi-site hospitality.  Excellent career progression in place.

Detailed Duties: Preparing monthly consolidated and individual management accountants for various group companies Preparation of monthly management accounts includes – Reconciliation and checking of underlying data – Ensuring regular month end procedures are executed – Reconciliation of monthly management accounts to weekly sales and cost reports – Reviewing P&L against expectations – Balance sheet reconciliations including detailed accruals and prepayments and the review of such reconciliations by other finance team members – Providing commentary on variance from expectations and other key matters – Generating monthly management account packs and issuing to the Board, senior management and individual restaurant locations. – Assisting the Board, senior management and restaurant managers with management account queries. Preparation of Key Performance Indicators packs across the group along with quarterly/half yearly bonus calculations. Year end closure and preparation of information for auditors and dealing with their queries.

If this is of interest, please get in touch with Andrea at fm@fmrecruitment.co.uk or call on +44 7714 236469, at your earliest convenience to discuss.

Hotel Applications Specialist, London

We are recruiting for a high-profile international owner/operator who is actively seeking an IT Specialist to be based in their London corporate office.

Using previous experience in Hotel Technology, the Hotel Applications Specialist will provide the conduit between the corporate office and the hotels to ensure all solutions are optimized and configured within hotel standards whilst taking into consideration other related and connected systems. The ideal candidate will actively engage in project work associated core central systems as well as maintain, support and improve said systems on an ongoing basis.

Essential skills include Oracle and backend Opera configuration.

If this sounds of interest, please get in touch with Andrea at fm@fmrecruitment.co.uk or call on +44 7714 236469 to discuss.

 

Hospitality Payroll Manager, Hertfordshire

Due to a rapidly expanding client base, our client is looking for a trained and experienced Payroll Manager – Hospitality Specialist to contribute to their team’s continuing success.

The role

The successful candidate will be responsible for organising and processing the periodic payrolls for a range of owner managed hospitality businesses. You will liaise with clients at senior and owner level, providing a fully outsourced payroll service for restaurant clients – from set up through to HMRC registration and year end submissions.

This role would suit a payroll specialist who enjoys working with their own client accounts and building client relationships.

This is a new role within the payroll department, so part of the role will evolve with time – out client needs a technically strong individual to take responsibility for scoping some of the role, with the assistance of the Head of Payroll.

Due the success of their  Troncmaster Services department, the company will provide payroll services to various hospitality clients. This is a fast-paced environment whereby deadlines are tight, and we provide additional support to these clients.

Training will be given initially regarding the existing client base and the complexities with the payroll clients. The company are payroll advisors, not just processors, they review client information before entering it into the payroll software to ensure treatment of pay elements is correct and that national minimum wage legislation is met.

Data is received in various formats from rota management systems the clients may have in place. Therefore, we are looking at ways to automate the manipulation of data received to ensure efficiencies within processing time and accuracy of data. You will be involved in implementing the automation processes and working with various team members and their allocated clients.

The company also deals with pension administration for clients whereby relevant personal and contribution data is uploaded to the designated provider. As the client base has grown this has provided some challenges with more complex pension information being required. You will be responsible for streamlining and managing the pension upload process to ensure the contributions are paid over in a timely manner.

For more information or to apply, please contact Andrea at fm@fmrecruitment.co.uk or call on +44 7714 236469

 

Will flexible working become the norm?

What is flexible working?

 

By definition, flexible working offers employees increased freedom –working from where they choose, flexible work schedules and fitting work around other responsibilities. Whilst flexible working has been increasingly adopted by companies over the years, it’s been accelerated since the start of the pandemic.

 

Research on the UK Government website shows that 9 out of 10 job seekers want increased flexibility, be it remote working (60%), flexitime (54%) or reduced hours (26%).

 

In March 2021, the Minister for Women and Equalities, called for flexible working to be “normalised” as part of the UK economy’s Covid-19 recovery, to capitalise on the shift in mindset triggered by the pandemic. Ministers are now preparing to make flexible working a permanent feature of British life post-pandemic, with plans to strengthen employees’ rights to work from home or ask for different hours.

 

Benefits of Flexible Working

 

Increase in Job Applications – UK Government-backed Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) and jobs website Indeed, shows offering flexible working explicitly in job adverts increases applications by up to 30%. The research, which analysed nearly 20 million applications and is the largest of its kind ever conducted in the UK, shows greater transparency in job adverts would create at least 174,000 flexible jobs to the UK economy per year.

 

Best of Both Worlds – Flexible working offers the freedom of working from home but access to the community of the office to drive increased collaboration. According to a recent survey of 2000 UK workers by Currys PC World and Canon, 37% identified a better work-life balance as one of the main benefits of remote working, with 54% citing not having to commute as their favourite part.

 

Increased Opportunities for Equality – According to the minister for women and equalities, “flexible working could help boost job opportunities for women (who are more likely to have to disrupt their careers as a result of caregiving duties) and reduce geographical inequality.”

 

Spreading the commuter coin – Whilst city-based businesses are reliant on the influx of commuters to city centres across the world, there has been a re-balancing of revenues, with more local businesses benefiting from the shift of working patterns. Over time, with a return to a combination of part office, part home working, it’s encouraging to see this wealth being spread across businesses both in city locations and in local communities.

 

Is flexible working here to stay?

 

It depends on many factors – there are many predictions that flexible working is here to stay but on the flip-side, the Centre for Cities think tank predicts the five-day office week will become the norm again within two years as featured in a BBC News article in June 2021.

 

Ultimately, it will be driven by individual businesses and employee’s wishes, and won’t be a one size fits all approach.

  

Sector Specific – A flexible working environment naturally suits some sectors more than others. For hospitality, the pandemic was a catalyst to introducing more flexible working practices which improved work-life balance. As the business of hospitality re-opens, naturally many roles are guest-facing so require employees to be present in their place of work

 

Hospitality, like many sectors, are aware of the importance of their employees’ wellbeing and its impact on performance and productivity, so have been adjusting their return to work policies to introduce a variety of measures to create a better work-life balance for their teams. Hybrid working for those working in non-customer facing roles and a four day week have been some of those policies being trialled currently.

 

Re-imagining of the Office – With changing working patterns evolving and a move to increased hybrid working, the office space will need to be used differently. More collaborative space, places where people can come together and create and innovate and a revised layout of desks are all some of the practical changes that businesses are adopting as they look to navigate the road back to the office.

  

At FM Recruitment, we work with clients across all areas of hospitality and associated industries to navigate flexible working. We work alongside our clients to showcase their company’s approach to work-life balance and its employee wellbeing focus to find the best candidate for the role.

We are specialists in financial recruitment at all levels in the UK and internationally. We belong to the Hospitality People Group who offer a wide variety of roles from c-suite level and everything in between.  For support with your next career move or to improve your recruitment strategy, please contact FM Recruitment now using any of the below details:

Office +44 20 8600 1160 I Email fm@fmrecruitment.co.uk   

Chris Denison Smith +44 7775 711923 I Email chrisdenisonsmith@fmrecruitment.co.uk
Andrea Shaw +44 7714 236469 I Email andreashaw@fmrecruitment.co.uk 

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