The Xenith of her career: Kimberley Oliver CA
Many CAs follow an unconventional career path, some going as far as to set up their own business. One such entrepreneur is Kimberley Oliver CA, Director of Xenith Financial Consulting Limited.
Based in Aberdeenshire, Xenith Financial is a technical support and consultation business serving clients across a range of sizes and specialisms. Kimberley founded the business in 2016 and was a finalist in the Entrepreneurship category of the 2017 ICAS 35 CAs under 35 awards.
She talked to Eleanor O'Neill about starting a business from scratch.
What drove you to start Xenith?
In 2015, the oil and gas market in Aberdeen was in the midst of one of the most severe downturns seen in a generation.
Many smaller organisations who had never worked with any qualified financial support before were struggling to cope with the impact of the changes on their business, particularly the increased requirements of lenders.
Therefore, I identified a gap in the market for high-quality, flexible, but ultimately affordable senior finance support.
Did you face many challenges?
As the business was set up in the middle of the oil and gas downturn, there was an initial resistance to investing within the finance function as it had historically been viewed as an overhead cost to be managed and reduced when times were tough.
Over the last 18 months, we have worked hard to show that the right financial support will build real relationships, understand your business and provide tangible value-add through being an active business partner.
A strong finance team will also support the business by driving improvements across the entire organisation, identifying areas where business strategy can be developed, and helping to manage profitability, return on investment and ensuring business objectives are met.
What are you most passionate about in your work?
I really enjoy supporting smaller enterprises, working closely with their management teams and making a significant difference to their organisations.
The key focus of Xenith Financial is to allow SMEs who feel that qualified and experienced financial support is cost prohibitive to access these services on a fully flexible basis. We tailor our support to individual client needs and deliver immediate results.
It is really satisfying to see the difference you have made to a small business, whether it is assisting for three days to build a finance model or working with a management team to improve their internal reporting.
How has the CA qualification helped you pursue an entrepreneurial career path?
The CA has provided me with a solid foundation of knowledge in all areas of business and developed me as a valued and trusted business advisor - not just a traditional accountant. It provides credibility and proof of my value and expertise before I meet any potential client.
The qualification has enabled me to obtain all of my previous staff roles, without which I would not have developed the confidence or experience to set up Xenith Financial.
Do you have any advice for budding CA entrepreneurs?
If you have an idea and a passion, then go for it!