13 Jun 2024

A focus on the People Behind: Engineering and Manufacturing

At Monahans, we pride ourselves on having an extensive team of people with a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and skill sets, who are passionate about helping their clients. As part of this series, we want to focus on the people behind each department, this time we speak with Partner, Iain Black.

When you think about the world of accountancy, often intricate webs of numbers and financial strategies come to mind but it is easy to forget about the people behind the services. We sat down with Iain to find out about his background and how he decided to specialise in engineering and manufacturing.

How did you get into the field of manufacturing and engineering?
When I finished university, I joined the management trainee scheme at a forward-thinking manufacturing company based in the Midlands. My role didn’t involve any elements of finance at that time, but I did gain plenty of experience on the shop floor and it helped to spark my keen interest in the sector. As part of my development, I was chosen to work on the opening of a new large scale production facility in South Wales, where I worked closely with the Group finance director and realised I preferred the figures side of the business.

This experience provided me with a good grounding in manufacturing and my passion for the figures and financing eventually migrated me into the financial side of the organisation and as a natural progression I signed up for a training contract with the ICAEW to train and qualify as an accountant. The hands-on experience in a high-tech manufacturing setting laid the foundation for my understanding of the industry's intricacies and helped me to form my path in accountancy.

I found myself particularly drawn to project analysis as this was an area I could leverage my background and joining PwC in Cardiff seemed like a natural progression. I have worked extensively with manufacturing clients, conducting audits, transaction support and providing financial advice, all the way through my career.

What do you find rewarding/challenging about your role?
One of the most exciting aspects of specialising in engineering and manufacturing is the sector's vastness and diversity. Manufacturing encompasses a wide range of activities, from pure component production to assembly and distribution, and each area has unique financial intricacies which keeps the work engaging. There is a capital-intensive nature to manufacturing operations as it often involves significant risk, which requires our team of accountants to strike a delicate balance between caution and entrepreneurial drive.

As an accountant, we need to highlight potential risks to clients while also encouraging them to pursue innovative projects and retain a competitive position in the market. I personally find it rewarding to help clients to navigate these financial landscapes, whether through managing capital investments or advising on mergers and acquisitions, it gives me a keen sense of fulfilment and accomplishment. Finally, the relationships I build with clients are special. Our clients across the whole organisation put a lot of trust in us and they rely on us for latest ideas and projects, reigning them back when necessary as well as for encouragement and reassurance through sometimes stressful situations.

Why would you recommend that others go into this field?
For those considering a career in this field, I would say it is a great sector to work in if you are keen to have a diversity of clients and sectors. The work is always exciting and rewarding knowing that you are helping clients achieve their goals. The opportunity to influence significant business decisions, see the tangible results of financial strategies, and build lasting relationships with clients makes it a highly rewarding profession.

Accountancy in the manufacturing and engineering industry requires a blend of technical expertise and human interaction. Understanding the operational side of business is beneficial but you can learn. As manufacturing continues to evolve, the role of accountants will remain crucial in steering these businesses towards sustainable success.

Our team at Monahans is well-positioned to advise you on a diverse range of areas from accounting and audit to tax, including Research and Development Tax Relief and Capital Reliefs. We have a large number of clients in the sector ranging from small to large manufacturers, as well as importers of manufactured goods. We have the knowledge and expertise to ensure the advice we give you is initiative-taking and timely, enabling you to focus on taking the business forward.

If you are looking for a specialist in manufacturing and engineering, find out more about our specialist team here.

Iain Black