What prompted Paul Durno – a seasoned, senior finance professional with over 25 years’ experience, latterly with a US bank in London – to leave the Canary Wharf behind and instead join EFM’s nationwide network of independent Finance Directors, CFOs, and other experts?
How easy was the onboarding process, what have the positive outcomes been, and what does the future look like?
For those considering moving from a traditional finance career to one with more flexibility and variety, Paul’s story is a compelling one – and in our interview below, he tells it memorably.
“A great career – but I was a weekend dad…”
Like many finance professionals, Paul genuinely enjoyed his previous corporate career, describing his employer as a great organisation to work for. And he didn’t take the decision to leave lightly, weighing up and analysing his options closely (“as you’d expect from a finance guy,” he laughs) for about a year.
But what drove that soul-searching – and the realisation that work could be different and better – in the first place? One word: Covid.
“Working at home during the pandemic highlighted my work-life imbalance,” he says. “I worked pretty long hours in the office, and suddenly realised that, although I hugely enjoyed that environment, I was missing out on my children growing up.
I’d see them briefly in the evening sometimes, but for school sports and after-school activities I’d just never been able to be there. I was a ‘weekend dad’, and I wanted to change that.”
As a finance expert, Paul prides himself on his powers of forecasting, but even he couldn’t predict that his next move would come through a chance conversation with his neighbour!
The chat that launched a career change
Paul’s neighbour is himself an EFM Associate, and the initial conversation soon turned into a meeting with EFM Group MD and founder Gary Jesson, and Director Malcolm Holloway.
Even at this early point, Paul grew confident about the potential of a relationship with EFM, stating that the meeting convinced him EFM was “an organisation of substance, with good-quality people” – a healthy accolade from someone who is highly practised in due diligence.
In due course, Paul decided to follow both his head and his instincts and, having formed a small Limited Company to enable him to become an Associate, joined EFM. And that onboarding process, he says, was extremely positive.
“EFM has a great onboarding and marketing team,” he comments. “They have a very robust process, and they make it happen and get it done.”
Onboarding covers a number of key initial administrative, technical, and contractual elements, but – critically – it also provides bespoke sales and marketing support, including the production of sales collateral and marketing content that form the building blocks for attracting and converting prospects into fee-earning work.
Post-onboarding: let the work begin!
In the space of just a few short months, Paul has already completed three projects for new clients – with, as he points out, no shortage of variety and interesting challenges.
“I’ve delivered two extensive due diligence projects for organisations,” he says, “but also a really stretching role in an educational institution that was urgently preparing for receivership and needed an immediate interim CFO replacement at the helm.
At EFM, I can be discerning about the organisations I work with, but I also feel empowered to spread my wings and take on interesting new challenges, because if I have any concerns or need any further guidance, there’s a network I can call on that is just great for that. I feel totally comfortable taking on more diverse work, because I know that if I need help, it’s just a phone call away.”
Benefits and positive outcomes: Paul’s summary
In short, Paul is quick to emphasise the work-life benefits of becoming an EFM Associate (we’ve explored this in more detail in another recent article too), but he is also a keen advocate of EFM’s flexible approach to choosing and executing work, and the great expertise it brings to bear on clients’ needs.
“Quite apart from more free time to spend with my family,” Paul says, “I get to take on whatever mix of short projects, recurring work, or urgent interim roles suits my capacity and interests, and if I choose to pursue one kind of work more than another – I’m keen to maximise recurring business, for example – that’s fine too.
But it’s how EFM works, and the benefits that approach delivers to clients, that I really enjoy. I can work both solus and alongside other EFM Finance experts to add a degree of value to small businesses that they often simply don’t expect, and you, sometimes, don’t even realise your 25 years’ experience has equipped you to deliver. It can be a real eye-opener.”
And what of the pipeline? “All the work to date has come to me through the EFM network,” he says, “and there are two further leads of my own brewing at the moment, so it’s certainly looking positive.”
And regrets? As the title of this article suggests, Paul has none. Indeed, his view is that more finance professionals are considering a similar move, particularly as many of his corporate Finance colleagues seemed rather keen to quiz him about EFM after he announced his resignation.
“I’d describe EFM as flexible, but commercially-minded, and always with an eye on their Associates’ career trajectory” he says, concluding: “For people with my skills, experience, and work-life priorities, EFM offers an exciting opportunity with strong foundations you can build a very good living on.”
Why not find out more – and join us?