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Financial workers 'can learn from adversity'

07/06/13

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, as the hackneyed advice goes, but while this can often seem like an unhelpful phrase, in the case of the financial industry it could have some traction.

According to Richard Pennycook, the former financial director of Morrisons, suggested the current problems surrounding the sector will ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated by a new generation of leaders.

Writing in Financial Director, Mr Pennycook - who has also held a host of non-executive roles - criticised the climate prevalent in the financial industry prior to the crash, noting that due diligence was often cursory at best.

Younger employees "were working in an environment where the old order had been challenged, and nay-sayers dismissed," he argued.

While finance professionals will have endured some difficult times over the last few years, not least because of the negative media coverage of their role, Mr Pennycook feels they can use this opprobrium to ensure the industry is better-regulated in the future.

"Cashflow discipline, cost control and prudent accounting will be tools in their toolkits. They know the importance of understanding the liabilities in businesses and of close stakeholder management of all creditors," he added.

He stressed the importance of strong leadership, suggesting that no amount of external regulation or  risk avoidance procedures can take the place of prudent and detailed management from principled individuals.

This may be cold comfort for people currently struggling to deal with the problems facing the sector, but it does at least underline the possibility for recovery over the coming years as the sector begins to deal with its issues and return to growth.

Lisa Winnard, HR director at Sesame Bankhall Group, recently backed up Mr Pennycook's ideas when she told Money Marketing that a fresh influx of talent is crucial to the continued health of financial services.

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