Notices of Financial Concern Are Hitting More & More Providers. Sometimes They Are Triggered by Non Payment of Invoices and Sometimes By Outdated Practices Being Used
For example the ESFA recently reported on a provider where they stated “colleges finances were poor with some accounting still being done in hand written ledgers.”
Soon after the report was written, but before it became public, I was called in to try to improve the marketing of this provider. The methodologies being used were outdated and there was no marketing plan per se. I soon put that right. But I had to be honest. I told them it was too late to resurrect previous recruitment levels due to the steep decline they had suffered over several years.
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An Expected Source of Notices of Financial Concern
So knowing what I did, I expected the Notice of Financial Concern. But what shocked me was the statement about hand written ledgers. Its hard to believe that, whereas a small business like mine has all its accounts being run through an online system with bank transactions being automatically downloaded and AI allocating them to various headings, this provider was still using hand written ledgers. We can hardly be surprised if this leads to Notices of Financial Concern.
Of course we shouldn’t be surprised. The providers that are suffering most from under funding are those that spend unwisely. It’s not that they don’t have enough money .. it’s that they spend it badly. In this case on staff making paper transactions where digital, and even AI, solutions exist.
And this got me thinking about all the other situations where money may be being spent unwisely. It happens in areas as diverse as curriculum, admin and marketing.
Where Could Money be Spent More Wisely?
I’ve written before about providers that retype all the information that an online application contains into their systems. They should be importing it electronically. I’ve also mentioned those that spend huge sums on new servers. in most cases cloud servers would be more cost effective, reduce staff requirements and negate the need for huge capital costs.
Ditto the marketing departments that get stitched up by agencies that tie them into website maintenance or online advertising.
The sad thing is there are hundreds of providers being stitched up by suppliers every year. And hundreds that make mistakes due to prejudice or lack of knowledge.
Of course most providers think this couldn’t happen to them. They employ professionals at the top of their game .. or so they tell themselves. But lets face it, the sector doesn’t pay well and the cream tend to work for the highest paying employers.
Don’t Become a Notice of Financial Concern Statistic
It’s so easy, when focusing on things like Ofsted, to miss all the ways in which we are overspending. That’s understandable.
The solution is to bring in someone, that has experience in identifying and solving these problems in FE, for a chat. They can take you through the process you need to undertake to improve your processes and related levels of spending .. and so increase the chances that you’ll shine compared to providers that don’t understand, or are prepared to face, the issues.
There’s more on Controlling Expenditure in FE here
And for more on FE marketing and management check this out.