For the last 2 years Jamie Richards has been one of Manchester City’s key employees. He joined the club in November 2014 as a Senior Management Accountant and continues to exert his influence in the sports industry. Here we talk to Jamie about how he coupled his passion for football with his career as part of our #MatchYourAmbition series.
What attracted you to the role at the club?
At university I came to the conclusion that if I was to ever have a career in finance, it would need to be something that I’d be really interested in. As a football fan I was already aware of the club and its recent successes, but it wasn’t until I started to research them more that I realised how exhilarating and forward-thinking they were. Football and sport is something I did and thought about for most of the day, so it seemed like a good place to match my experience with my passion.
Describe your day-to-day role as an accountant
You might assume the stereotypical day of an accountant would be bean counting and spread sheets! However in reality, the accountancy and finance department as a whole are a vital part of any organisation.
The most exciting part of my role is that there is never a standard day. I am the main financial point of contact at the club for all commercial areas. So a big part of that would include contract review and negotiation with potential partners, licenses and other possible media deals.
Reviewing agreements for commercial deals from a financial perspective and liaising with other clubs and offices around the world. Being a global enterprise, dealing with financial enquiries from international offices is one of the key things I focus on.
Reporting to business and commercial heads is also something I’m involved in. Here they gain an understanding of how they are performing against budgets for the month or year to-date.
On the commercial side, financial input into partnership contracts or merchandise deals are vital in securing the best terms possible for all parties involved. It is my responsibility to ensure the club is in line with its financial obligations to stakeholders, the taxman and football regulatory bodies.
What aspects of your role are most challenging and how you do you overcome them?
The sports industry (in particular football) is a very fast-paced environment. The main challenge we face is that you don’t get much notice of when the next project is. I think teamwork and constant communication are absolutely vital in overcoming this. I am lucky that I sit in both finance and commercial, so I have two teams to support me.
How does an accountant at one of the world’s biggest football clubs compare to other sectors/industries?
It’s almost like chalk and cheese. Football is a very commercial industry and always in the public eye, so there’s a lot of unforeseen events that you would have to react quickly to and deal with accordingly.
My experience comes from the accountancy sector with one of the main firms. When you work in a firm, your priority is just to your partners and clients. However, at the club it’s not just clients, shareholders and owners. The passion and emotion that comes with fans being involved really makes a difference.
What advice would you give someone looking to pursue a similar career and how did you get there?
The best advice I can give someone is:
- Stay determined. Finance is a very competitive industry, with a lot of high profile jobs being applied for, so being determined and focused is essential.
- Experience is key. Not necessarily in the exact role, but something in the same area is certainly valuable. Experience gained in Marketing and Media, for example, all contributes to your profile.
- Networking. This is a big part of your role too. Sport is one of those industries where everyone seems to know each other. It’s great for your development and is also a good way to keep your eyes open about any roles that become available.
Once I left University I did a Master’s Degree in Sport Business Management. This allowed me to build my network, which made it clearer for me to see what I wanted to do and how to get there.
I met some career advisors who recommended starting my career outside the sports industry, building up some experience and qualifications, and then applying for a more senior role within sport, which is what I did.
From there I worked at the Commonwealth Games in a finance role, where I started to learn about the distinctive elements of working in sport. It was that evolution that really helped me get to where I am today.
How did you come to know about this job?
Hays was one of the recruiters I would speak to regularly, so when I saw the role come up via Hays on the Manchester City website, I applied immediately.
I was based in Glasgow at the time working at the Commonwealth Games. When I spoke to my recruitment agent they arranged a phone interview followed by a face-to-face interview at the London offices, which I found to be very helpful. Hays was really supportive throughout the whole process. My consultant was easy to communicate with and dealt with any questions I had.
Do you have plans for your continuous professional development?
I am required to continue my professional development even as a fully qualified accountant, which is great as it keeps you on your toes. The accounting standards are constantly updated or sometimes just completely rewritten. I get assistance from the professional body to do this, which is invaluable in staying up-to-date with recent changes.
View the featured #MatchYourAmbition video here.
To find out more, or to discuss your recruitment needs in this field, please contact your local consultant.