President’s tour: West Midlands

by Mark Orchard

23 June 2017


What a privilege and a pleasure it really is to be your HFMA president this year. Yesterday (22 June), I visited the West Midlands as the third scheduled stop on my 13-leg 2017 branch tour.

I spoke at this event a few years ago when we launched the Future-Focused Finance (FFF) initiative, so I already had a sense that this is a branch that is doing remarkably well in supporting its member network. The delegate numbers speak for themselves – at over 320 this must be the biggest branch annual conference on the circuit. A quick look at the membership stats also confirms that this branch is one of the most well supported across the UK both in terms of total membership numbers and finance director/ CFO members.

As I keep saying, these branches – and events like yesterday – don't just run themselves. So I was delighted to be able to say a big personal thank you to branch chair Paul Simpson, the branch committee and all those involved yesterday.

One of the things that stands West Midlands out from the rest – and something worth reflecting on – is the alignment between the West Midlands finance skills development (FSD) offer, the HFMA branch and the support and energy this patch has put into turning FFF from concept to reality. As always, these things often boil down to a small number of committed and enthusiastic individuals, but in the West Midlands it would appear that the sum of this commitment has reached the tipping point whereby everyone benefits.

I am a longstanding HFMA South West member and we follow a similar integrated FSD/ HFMA delivery model, but with my South West hat on even I have to acknowledge that the West Midlands is currently working to a scale that most of us aspire to. Well done Paul and colleagues (too many to mention – which kind of underlines the point really).

So, back to yesterday's conference. I was delighted once again to take to the stage immediately ahead of Bob Alexander. I'm getting used to being the NHS Improvement warm-up act now, having performed this role at each of the three branch events so far on this tour. As well as offering some personal reflections on 2016/17, 2017/18 and beyond, I took the opportunity to briefly share the unfolding Dorset system collaboration story. This fitted well with the 'Competition to collaboration' theme of the day. I ended as usual in summarising the recently consulted HFMA strategic plan and key objectives for the coming period. Fundamentally, HFMA will continue to support its membership base and all 13 UK branches are absolutely central to this.

An important feature of this conference is the West Midlands branch awards ceremony where individuals and teams are recognised for their valued contributions. Again too many to mention in this short blog, but I was so pleased that Paul Taylor was singled out as the very deserving recipient of the West Midlands HFMA lifetime achievement award. Well done Paul, and thank you for the support you have given me personally along the way.

The next stop on my branch tour is the North West, which takes me to Blackpool. It’s another well-supported part of the UK that I know well.

But in the meantime I am taking some annual leave and have a flight to catch to Orlando, Florida to offer a UK perspective on 'Collaborating for the future' – the theme of the HFMA US annual conference this year. So it would appear that it is not just the West Midlands that is moving from competition to collaboration.


President's tour: Scotland
President's tour: Eastern branch
President's tour: Kent, Surrey and Sussex 
President's tour: South West
President's tour: Wales
President's tour: North West
President's tour: London
President's tour Yorkshire and Humber
Presidents's tour: South Central