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Mike Morgan — I wish I had started volunteering earlier in my career
Chartered Accountant with ICAEW 1990
Group Finance Director of Close Brothers Group plc
Co-opted Member of the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home (since March 2023)
“It is so beneficial for finance professionals to be able to learn about areas beyond finance, and skills-based volunteering is a brilliant way of doing this.”
How did you get involved in volunteering?
Having been on the board of Close Brothers since 2018, I felt it would be good for me to take on an additional role. It is important as a Board member to have a broad perspective and to continue to develop yourself. I knew I could only accommodate one role so it needed to be a good one! I could have taken on a paid Non-Executive Director role for another corporate, but I decided to seek a Trustee role as I wanted to give back to the community. I found the opportunity at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home through NuRole. I have always had and loved dogs so it really appealed to me.
What do you most enjoy about volunteering?
I find it incredibly worthwhile that I can bring my skills to bear for the benefit of others – whilst at the same time getting so much from the opportunity. I have found it fascinating to learn about the many different elements of the charity, from the marketing team considering how best to promote Battersea, to spending time with the vets and pharma team caring for the animals. I am working alongside a team of really interesting people with diverse skills and backgrounds but sharing a common passion to support this cause.
What has been your proudest moment as a volunteer?
I am still relatively new in role but when I went to my induction meeting I saw a lovely dog… and by the time I returned for a strategy day a few days later, the dog had already found a new home. I am proud to be part of an organisation that can operate so effectively to find new homes for dogs and cats.
What has been the toughest time volunteering?
Not a tough time, but my initial observation I have had is that the non-profit sector operates in a different way and pace than the corporate world. It is important to recognise and respect these different timelines as ultimately charitable resources tend to be stretched so they can’t move everything forward as quickly as they would like.
How have your accountancy skills come into play?
There is a huge amount of overlap between my corporate and my charity roles – ultimately the organisations are facing lots of similar challenges, whether trying to improve data quality, implementing new systems or navigating new regulation. My experience in these areas provides a helpful perspective and allows me to give relevant strategic and practical advice to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. However, at Battersea there are lots of other areas of focus such as lobbying the government about preventing dangerous dog breeds and landlords allowing dogs in rental property.
As a member of the Finance, Audit & Risk Committee – something which I have lots of experience with from my corporate career, these skills are very transferable. A lot of the structure and content of these meetings are the same. With income of over £60m, reserves of £120m and three sites in Battersea, Windsor and Brands Hatch – the size of the organisation is pretty substantial. There is a global angle to it too with an overseas ambassador programme supporting similar charities overseas. Cats and dogs are cats and dogs no matter where they live!
What have you learnt from volunteering?
As well as gaining a great understanding about how charities work and what the sector is up against, I have also learnt so much through the other trustees I am working alongside. As an example, one of the trustees is also a trustee for the University of York, it has been interesting to understand his day job and its own challenges. I feel it makes me a much broader and rounder individual with knowledge far beyond my immediate responsibility of finance. It is hard to get this same opportunity in your day job but it is so critical as you move up the career ladder and take on bigger roles. As CFO I am expected to have an opinion on the state of the UK economy, interest rates, the housing market – not just the financial performance of the bank. Having a volunteer role gives your real credentials to do this – both through the charity you are supporting and the network of people that you meet through it.
What would be your one piece of advice for accountants looking to volunteer?
Find a cause that you are passionate about. When work is busy you will still be motivated to invest the time for the charity, to thoroughly read the papers and contribute in meetings and also go the extra mile, researching and thinking how you can best support the charity.
How can get more accountants volunteering?
Promote volunteering to young people as a key part of their career. It is so beneficial for finance professionals to be able to learn about areas beyond finance and skills-based volunteering is a brilliant way of doing this. There are also so many benefits for mental health and well-being. I would recommend it to everyone and wish I had done it earlier. I am excited to bring Charterpath into our next team Town Hall to inspire more people to get involved!