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Introduction to the Finance Committee

Published: 28 Apr 2017
By Mike Poole

The Finance Committee at the British Pharmacological Society may seem a little mysterious in comparison with those committees more directly relevant to members’ areas of primary interest and expertise. This article will give a bit of an insight into what the Committee is really like, the value it adds to the work of the Society and the experience of members who serve on it.

It is interesting to be a member of the Finance Committee if you really want to get to grips with how the Society operates. It is all about maintaining and expanding income streams - involves development of exciting new ventures, and how the money is spent - always wisely, to promote what are ambitious but realistic goals.

Barbara McDermott (served on the Committee 2014-2016)


Those on the Committee certainly get to understand how existing and new Society activities are financed, including the flagship annual meeting Pharmacology, the AJ Clark studentship and educational initiatives such as Focus on Pharmacology and the Prescribing Safety Assessment.

The Committee is very forward-looking: it reviews budgets, financial forecasts and projections. It also encourages new developments and innovation and considers new proposals carefully to ensure they will proceed successfully. In this regard, the financial strategy is a key output of the Committee as it helps the Society meet the ambition of its 5-year strategy, while balancing it with resources so as to ensure the long-term viability of the Society.

Of course there are a lot of figures! However, the emphasis is on useful summaries to enable the Committee to “zoom in” on relevant details. Reasons for any unexpected financial performance are sought and provided, to ensure accountability and improve forecasting.

My main role was to see that money was allocated wisely, particularly in regard to the longer term aims and ambitions of the Society. Consequently, membership proved to be both interesting and worthwhile, and joining this Committee has to be of interest to anyone wanting to be involved in both the future of the Society and pharmacology in general.

Richard Green (served on the Committee in 2016)

The Society currently has £5million of investments and the Finance Committee is the primary place where important matters such as the investment policy and portfolio are reviewed, the balance between risk and potential reward is set, and performance is monitored.

Its finance remit means the Committee has access to all areas of the Society’s activities, and this is further reinforced by its wide-ranging scope, including:

  • Ensuring that risks faced by the Society are properly identified and managed
  • Human Resources – in particular overall affordability of staffing arrangements and pensions
  • Impact measurement and reporting (an important, developing area for the Society)

 Clearly then, the Committee is not only about financial matters!

There are many quite different strands in the remit of the Committee, so the work is varied. Consideration of the investment portfolio may be riveting for some.

Barbara McDermott (served on the Committee 2014-2016)


Committee members are supported by access to a plethora of external experts with relevant expertise and qualifications, from fields such as:

  • Accountancy and audit
  • Taxation and VAT
  • Investment management
  • Legal

Relevant internal expertise is provided by staff, including David James (Head of Innovation & Commercial Development), Amandeep Bhardwaj (Finance Manager) and myself.

It is most interesting to see the financial workings of the Society – and most reassuring to see how well the Society is run financially. I would very much encourage other members to get involved.

Nick Barnes (served on the Committee 2013 to date)

In turn, these advisers, their advice and all this expertise improve the business skills of those who serve on the Committee. The Honorary Treasurer, Robin Plevin, chairs the Committee and encourages members, by agreement with them, to focus on particular aspects of the Committee’s work that will meet their individual interests, expertise and areas for development. This also helps to ensure that each item of business is more thoroughly considered, as well as enhancing members’ knowledge and expertise in each area.

Finance Committee broadens my financial and management experience, useful skills for those school and university negotiations!

Nicholas Holliday (served on the Committee 2013 to date)

There are four meetings per year of between 2 to 3 hours’ duration and participation by teleconference or videoconference is welcome. The Committee has vacancies arising every year; if you are interested in finding out more about its work and possibly applying to join, please contact Mike Poole or Robin Plevin


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About the author

Mike is an ACA-qualified Chartered Accountant with a wealth of financial and business expertise. His priority as Finance & Commercial Director is to support the British Pharmacological Society’s 5-year strategy with robust financial and business disciplines that protect, diversify and grow income while increasing efficiency. He is responsible for corporate services, including finance, IT, HR and facilities.