Conrad Broadbent leads the FCC team, providing direct debit processing services to businesses. He explains about his tenure at the ‘school of hard knocks’, and why he thinks businesses should be bold.
What is it the company does?
First Capital Cashflow (FCC) is the UK’s leading Direct Debit payments bureau. We offer all business entities from SMEs to Corporates, Charities through to the Public Sector, simple, compliant and secure Direct Debit processing solutions, with or without sponsorship from their bank. This saves businesses time and money, ensuring collections are made on time, every time and removing the complexity and concern around regulation, software development, security and risk.
We’re approved by the company that runs Direct Debit and Direct Credit in the UK – Bacs – and one of the few payments bureaus to be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
My primary function is to provide leadership to the team, through a combination of setting clear strategic objectives and then mentoring individuals to help them develop their skill set. I want to ensure everyone remains engaged and supported to become the best that they possibly can be, whilst delivering on their personal commercial objectives, which automatically guarantees the company achieves its numbers.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
My business education was in the ‘school of hard knocks’ followed by the ‘university of life’, obtaining a 1st Class Honours in hindsight!
I joined the Civil Service in 1980, followed by various consumer finance roles, before spending 15 years with NatWest/ the RBS Group from 1985, latterly as a Regional Sales Director in their Cashflow Finance Division. I then joined FCC in September 2001, becoming an equity holding director in 2004 and finally taking a majority shareholding in a secondary MBO in 2013.
In 2009, I also managed the launch of a subsidiary company, Patient Plan Direct Ltd, which has now been successfully demerged and is held privately.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
It really depends on what and who they’re leading! In the SME owner managed sector particularly, I believe a focused, goal driven individual; but also, someone who is prepared to listen to advice and is able to recognise and surround themselves with talented people.
Additionally, I think it’s important that a great leader leads from the front and isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty when required.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Like many business owners, I’d say it’s prioritising my time. I have to wear many hats, be it marketing, finance, sales, HR or in my case often regulatory. Sometimes it is easy to be drawn away from your key objectives if you don’t delegate and trust in your management team.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I often think I’m lucky to have the mindset that I do. I believe we’re all dealt a set of cards and it’s how you play them that counts – clearly a little bit of luck along the way comes in handy but I really think the ‘S’ word is overplayed.
I’m quite good at thinking about the bigger picture. The way I see it, my parents and grandparents had much more stress worrying about two world wars, including bombs and rationing, amongst other things. In comparison, I’m not sure we’ve got too much to be stressed about in the 21st Century.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Centre Forward for Manchester United… they’ll never know what they missed!
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Eating at your desk and leaving dirty pots in the sink, why? We have provided two dishwashers and a very comfortable staffroom with all the mod cons!
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
We’ve grown very sustainably over the last 15 years, gaining recognition as the experienced and trusted provider in the market. All being well, I see us continuing to build on the successful, profitable growth we have experienced. I’d also like us to still be recognised as the ‘go to’ Bacs payments bureau in the UK.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Without a doubt, it is to ‘go for it’. I’ve lost count of the number of bored/ fed up execs I’ve met who now feel trapped and regret staying in their safe career for too long. If you’re any good, and you work hard, you will succeed. If you’re not, you will always find a way back to where you came from and at least then you’ll know!
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Be bold, take more risks and go for it!