Yorkshire Accountancy Awards: Catching up with the Nominees for Finance Director of the Year!

Yorkshire Accountancy Awards: Catching up with the Nominees for Finance Director of the Year!

​​The Yorkshire Accountancy Awards are fast approaching, and with a fortnight to go, our Director Lucy Regan sat down with Neil Beardsmore, FD of Ice Travel Group, nominated for Finance Director of the Year, to talk through 2023 and find out what he’s looking forwards to in 2024.

Hi Neil! Good to speak to you and congrats again on the nomination. What’s been your biggest achievement in 2023?

I feel like 2023, rather than there being one stand out achievement, had a number of smaller successes which have driven the recovery of the company and allowed us to continue the development of the finance team with a view to the future in mind.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

There’s been several challenges, a lot of them still ongoing. I’d say the biggest has been managing the culture shift from an entrepreneurial SME to that of a PLC, particularly from a financial control perspective. We’ve had to maintain the flexibility of an SME to ensure we can continue making quick decisions.

Managing costs in a progressively more competitive market, with increased performance expectations, has been another thing that has proved difficult at times. Balancing GP targets with increasing direct unit costs presents significant challenges. There’s also been a lot of struggles with data and reporting due to changes Google made that were outside of our control, for every aspect of the business. On top of all that, I’ve tried very hard to keep up with my own personal and professional development, which can be difficult when you’re working in a constantly shifting landscape.

What’s been your biggest learning curve in 2023?

Ice Lolly merged with TravelSupermarket in late 2021, so 2023 has been a continuation of learning how to balance the expectations of a PLC and a private equity investor at the same time.

What are you most excited about in 2024?

Who knows? I’m currently taking things as they come!

Do you forecast any significant trends in the accounting world in 2024? I feel we’re going to see an increased reliance on data and deep performance metrics, allowing finance teams to find marginal gains. This is likely to come through the increased use of AI, which we’re seeing implemented more and more across the industry.

What were your 2023 highlights? I think making it to the end of the year with company growth across the board – we had increased website traffic, revenue, GP and EBITDA – has to be a high point. We also managed to get both our brands back on TV following years of suppressed trading following COVID-19. It really feels like we’re out of that rut now.

Is there anything would you do differently in 2024 compared to 2023? As I touched on above, I try and take things as they come, so I don’t think I’d do anything differently. Ever year is an evolution of the last, and I take each thing that happens as a lesson to improve upon. I’m looking forward to having better tools in 2024, and increasing my knowledge to improve our forecasting!

 We're looking forward to sitting down with Neil and everyone else at the Yorkshire Accountancy Awards in a few weeks, and seeing who wins Finance Director of the Year for 2024!