Academy expert Jamie joins the London Mayfair office 

Consultant Jamie Russell has moved from Perrys' Wrotham branch to the London Mayfair office, where he will continue to work with managed businesses, charities, landlords and property developers.

Jamie is also experienced in giving financial advice to academies, and helping trustees take control of the management of their finances and procurement, something they may not have the necessary expertise to do themselves. Academies are expected to demonstrate complete financial accountability and it's vital to ensure all the necessary strategies are in place.

People who join an academy's board of trustees are usually volunteers who give up many hours of their valuable time to help their local community, but they are often not from a financial background, and may have begun in an administrative position before taking on a financial role with no qualifications or experience. This is particularly the case if a school has become an academy during their tenure, with the subsequent financial independence this brings.

One of the regular issues which Jamie advises on is ensuring an academy uses the correct choice of accounting software. In the past, schools were usually provided with accounting software by their local authority, and this has often proved to be cumbersome and not particularly user-friendly.

Jamie found that some clients have experienced incidents where half a year's worth of data has been inadvertently wiped, necessitating hours of work to replace it. He can help with examining systems and suggesting suitable software which will be more cost-effective in the long term.

Jamie, a school governor himself, says it's important to gain the trust of the board and work with them throughout the learning process to instil confidence in mastering basic financial principles. The government requires an academy to:

  • prepare an annual report and financial statements to 31 August
  • have the accounts audited annually by independent registered auditors
  • produce a statement of regularity, propriety and compliance and obtain a regularity assurance report on this statement from the auditor
  • submit the audited accounts and auditor's regularity assurance report to ESFA within 4 months of its year end, usually by 31 December
  • file the accounts with the Registrar of Companies as required under the Companies Act 2006
  • publish the audited accounts on the trust's website by 31 January

It's a complicated timeline of responsibility, which is why friendly, practical advice and training from an expert is essential.

Jamie joined Perrys in 2015 as a manager at the Tunbridge Wells office, having qualified with the ACCA in 2014. Outside the office, he enjoys football and cycling, and has completed the London to Brighton bike ride and the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge while fundraising for charity. He says:

"At Perrys I have the freedom to branch out and focus on my own particular interests – academies being one - which is not always possible in some firms. There are plenty of opportunities for career development at your own pace, and all the Perrys offices I've worked at have been very friendly and welcoming."

If you have financial responsibilities at an academy trust, why not give Jamie a call at our London Mayfair office and find out how Perrys can help lighten your load.