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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Upskilling Tips for the Finance Department

By Sukhpreet Chana, Misha Manani and Joe Pilbrow

The finance department is crucial to the overall success of a publishing company. The finance team works closely with colleagues across the business – they provide financial support on everything from new acquisitions to strategy, helping to drive the growth and profitability of the business. This week, we’re taking a look at the typical financial roles you can expect to find in a publishing house, as well as the key skills required to be successful in those roles. We’ll also offer some useful resources and organisations for those who think a job in the finance department might be for them.

The Roles and Career Trajectory

  • Finance Assistant: This is an entry-level role requiring excellent Excel and administration skills. The integral part of the role is being established in accountancy, financial records and assisting with banking and other areas in the finance department.

  • Finance Analyst: This entry- to mid-level role might require a BA in economics, finance or statistics, and, depending on the organisation, experience working in finance. Applicants would include graduates and individuals interested in furthering their career prospects. This position requires knowledge of costs and revenues alongside publishing policies.

  • Royalties Executive: This position focuses on sub-rights contracts, rights and royalties income, monthly tax reporting and more tasks within the finance team. A crucial aspect of the role is reviewing incoming and outgoing royalties as well as supporting overseas publishers and analytical agencies.

  • Finance Manager: This senior role requires 3+ years of experience in the finance industry. It specialises in managing the organisation's finances, planning and record-keeping.

Core Skills

  • Numeracy: You’ll need to be good with numbers if you’re going to be successful in a financial role. Your day-to-day work will involve a lot of figures and sums.

  • Communication: A key aspect of working in finance is being able to convey complex financial information to non-finance colleagues. Clear, concise and accurate communication is vital.

  • IT: Most roles ask for a basic understanding of Excel, but working in the finance team requires an advanced knowledge of the spreadsheet software. Pivot tables, macros and conditional formatting are just a few of the necessary skills.

  • Organisation: Strong diary management and task prioritisation skills are essential and ensure the smooth running of the department and the success of the business as a whole.

  • Analysis/Evaluation: Once you’ve worked out the facts and figures, you need to be able to understand what they mean, interpret them and draw conclusions from them.

Organisations and Resources

  • Fundamentals of Finance for Publishers: This is a virtual paid course held by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers. It is an extensive programme to support the understanding of finance in publishing – in particular, profit and loss budgets and statements, cash flows and financial management.

  • A Guide to Publishing – Finance: This is a brilliant guide by Hachette UK and Blueprint For All that explains the publishing ecosystem and how departments work. Page 24 explores the types of tasks involved (especially at entry level) and top tips for shining during the interview.

  • Hachette UK Opening the Book: Pioneered by Sharmaine Lovegrove, this is a series of careers webinars held to demystify the publishing industry and attract an inclusive talent pool. Scroll down to find a webinar with three lovely speakers who work in the finance department at Hachette – they discuss their journey, roles and advice for working in finance.

  • Eleanor Marie Rose – Publishing Finance: Eleanor has put together an informative video that explains the world of authors, agents and finance in simple and clear terms. It covers advances, reserves, royalties and so much more.

  • Finance in Publishing Guide: This is a guide written by Alan Hurcombe, the Chief Financial Officer at Egmont, and published by The Publishing Training Centre (PTC). It goes through terminology, company strategy, title profitability and financial reports. It’s a great way to develop your commercial awareness and financial mindset. To access the guide, register here.

Bonus Tips

  • Apply for the PRH Finance Level 2 Apprenticeship: This is a new 12-month paid initiative from Penguin Random House UK. They aren’t currently accepting applications, but it is a wonderful opportunity for those hoping to get their foot in the door working in accountancy in publishing. It’s also based in Essex, which is good for those outside of London.

  • Search for jobs using keywords: Focus your searches on different versions of these words: finance, credit, accounts, analyst, royalties, revenue, etc. This should take place on job websites such as Jobs in Books, Indeed, Creative Access, Redwood Publishing Recruitment, Independent Publishers Guild, and The Society of Young Publishers (members-only).

  • Develop your transferable skills: You can strengthen the list of skills (above) by working in the finance or accountancy departments in other creative or non-creative industries. If you decide to change to publishing, make sure you emphasise this in your applications and interviews.

Thank you for reading issue eighty-two! Join us again for issue eighty-three, where we will cover Upskilling Tips: Black History Month.

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