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Commercial Finance Skills

credt cardsFairpoint plc is an AIM listed financial services business specialising in debt advice, debt solutions and relevant products and services for financially stressed consumers. The Group was founded to address the IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangements) opportunity and is a market leader in this sector.  Its vision is to become the UK’s most widely respected provider to over-indebted consumers, with a fundamental philosophy of applying a fair and ethical approach to business operations.

Based in Adlington, Lancashire, Fairpoint’s call centre and team of insolvency professionals serve the whole of the UK.  Central to the Group’s business proposition is the provision of no obligation advice – to a total of around 130,000 customers every year.  The acquisition of Moneyextra.com Ltd added a well established internet brand to the Group, providing an enhanced capability to reach beyond its core market. It also marked the first step in a strategy of continued expansion, providing a strong platform for development of the business.

A key component in the Group’s development was the recruitment of a talented, highly commercial Group Finance Director to act as a business partner to the CEO. The successful candidate would help shape the evolving strategy of the Group and lead personally on several elements of it. Mike Spurr, Head of Wickland Westcott’s Board Practice, led the search. The specification was demanding and  included experience of plc board operation, exposure to financial services (and ideally debt management), a track record of successful M&A transactions, and experience of working within both large corporate and smaller, entrepreneurial environments.

The search strategy targeted individuals within a commutable radius of Fairpoint’s Head office, including financial services and listed businesses. It also drew upon Wickland Westcott’s candidate connections developed through previous plc Finance Director searches.  The timing of the search coincided with the peak August summer holiday period, demanding a high level of flexibility by client interviewers and candidates alike. Shortlisted candidates were measured against the assignment brief by Wickland Westcott using rigorous interviews, referencing and psychometric assessment. In order to thoroughly investigate personal fit, shortlist candidates also met a broad cross section of Fairpoint’s executive and non-executive directors.

John Gittins was appointed into the role, bringing with him strong commercial skills and over 17 years of experience as a Finance Director on listed boards with growing service businesses including Spring Group plc, Vertex Data Science Limited and Begbies Traynor Group plc.

John Allkins, Non-Executive Director and Chairman of the Nominations Committee for this search commented:   "Working with Wickland Westcott has been a very positive experience and, with the appointment of John Gittins, they have found a high calibre Group Finance Director for our Board. We are confident that his wide ranging experience across a series of high growth service businesses will allow him to make a valuable contribution to the Group."