Accountants seek to support Northern business growth through development programme

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As part of its ongoing ambition to support regional business growth, leading independent accountancy firm BHP has launched a development programme for Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) and people looking to start a portfolio career.

With research by Henley Business School highlighting that NEDs play a considerable role in business growth[1], the programme aims for more businesses to unlock their potential, by creating a network of NEDs with the skills and experience to support a business on its growth journey.

The programme is designed specifically for NEDs working with small and mid-market companies ambitious for growth, given a perceived gap in NED development opportunities tailored for these businesses. It helps them understand the evolving requirements of the role for this particular type of company, and further develop the skills and approaches required to add real value, as well as understand the legal responsibilities that come with the position.

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Rachel Hannan, an experienced NED and associate at BHP who delivers the programme, said: “There can be misconceptions about NEDs, from people who think they’ll come in and take over on one hand, to the idea that they’ll just turn up for Board meetings and contribute little on the other. The true benefit of a NED is that they provide support, but can also challenge the executive team’s thinking, bringing invaluable broader experience as well as alternative perspectives.

Rachel HannanRachel Hannan
Rachel Hannan

“The aim of our two-day course is to not only give experienced NEDs and potential NEDs the tools to help them in their non-executive career, but also create a community of non-executives who can support each other and the region’s fast-growing businesses.

“Having been a business owner with a NED prior to starting my own portfolio career, I’ve first-hand experience of the benefits they bring. In most instances, it is more than just a little black book, it’s the experiences that your non-executives have had during their own career and the lessons they’ve learnt, which can be truly transformational.”

To date more than 20 people have gone through BHP’s free programme and the firm plans to more than double this figure by the end of 2024.

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Hamish Morrison, joint CEO at BHP, added: “Working with fast-growth businesses across the country, we have seen the power and benefit of Non-Executive Directors in helping owners and management teams unleash the potential of their businesses.

“However, despite the transformational impact they have, few people understand both the benefits and requirements of being a NED – something we hope to change through this programme.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the response so far, having been inundated with interest. We’re now looking forward with Rachel to creating a new network of NEDs in the North that can support each other and the region’s ambitious businesses, as together we all look to continue to rebalance the economy and level up the nations and regions.”

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