Director of Finance

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Sean Hewitt

Re: Director of Finance

Post by Sean Hewitt » Fri May 15, 2009 11:33 am

Carl Hibbard wrote: There is only two weeks left of May to hold the "preliminary" event as mentioned in the press release, so it's fingers crossed that all goes well...
They have a little longer than that Carl
Three or four small preliminary events in Surrey, Hampshire and Oxfordshire will be held in May and June 2009. Further details will be published in due course.

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Director of Finance

Post by Carl Hibbard » Fri May 15, 2009 12:36 pm

Sean Hewitt wrote:They have a little longer than that Carl
You are right of course, my lack of confidence in this project is showing - have to take care this forum doesn't get blamed for lack of "sponsors" again won't I

:roll:
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Carl Hibbard

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Director of Finance

Post by Stewart Reuben » Fri May 15, 2009 3:03 pm

>Seems I touched a raw nerve.

The Office with its paid staff is something the ex CEO tried to do something about but hit a considerable barrier in trying to further his knowledge as to what exactly they do. My understanding is he was not the only one.

I repeat, its bizzare that the Directors work for nothing while the office stafff are salaried. Who wants to be a director in those circumstances and worse any attempts to direct are twarted by the office staff. (Not my words- the words of those who have posted previously having been so twarted)

The best thing that could happen is for HMG to withdraw its grant for the office and an enquiry be set up staffed by suitably qualified chess players to determine how we got where we are now and what to do about it. In saying that I make a naive assumption that the average chess player cares about the federation and chess 'politics' when the reality is 99% could not care less.< from Mr Lazenby
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My nerves can hardly be described as raw after being a chess organizer for 55 years.

EL obviously has never observed the working of any major charity. They all have professional staff and volunteers doing much more work for nothing. If I am bizarre in my activity, so be it.

His last paragraph demonstrates unequivocally once again that he does not have the best interests of chess at heart. I too am uninterested in chess politics. I am interested in the development of chess and particularly that in England. The ECF is simply a means to an end.

Perhaps had Martin Regan actually gone to the ECF Office at least once, as Peter Sowray did, he might have had a better idea how it works. It is very difficult for anybody, coming new into an established organisation, to get to grips with how it functions.

The main systemic problem for English chess is not the structure of the ECF, although of course that could be improved. It is the lack of fresh administrative voluntary workers. There are social reasons for that totally outside the control of currentchess administrators.
Stewart Reuben

Ian Kingston
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Re: Director of Finance

Post by Ian Kingston » Fri May 15, 2009 5:11 pm

Stewart Reuben wrote:The main systemic problem for English chess is not the structure of the ECF, although of course that could be improved. It is the lack of fresh administrative voluntary workers.
These issues are not unconnected. From the outside, what we see is a succession of volunteers coming in, struggling with (or against) the system, and leaving. This is a strong disincentive to anyone else who might feel like devoting their time to the ECF.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Director of Finance

Post by Stewart Reuben » Fri May 15, 2009 6:49 pm

Ian, you may be confusing English chess with the ECF. The 4NCL and UK Chess Challenge were both created by individuals working outside the ECF, which is often at its best when it simply provides an umbrella structure for people to work. We need more such people. Modern society is not conducive to such people coming along in any voluntary field.
Of course the ECF itself can be improved, arguably mightily so.

But for EL to argue that English chess would be better off without the government grant and with none of the ECF voluntary directors annoys me more than just a little. How can I see the former as other than a direct attack on English chess? How can I see the latter as other than an attack on all the directors, including me? There have been previous instances of his more direct attacks on me.

Stewart Reuben

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Director of Finance

Post by Carl Hibbard » Fri May 15, 2009 7:05 pm

I think both of you have strong views and are more than happy to express them, so let's draw a fine line under this one and move on to something new please :!:
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Carl Hibbard

Paul Buswell
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Re: Director of Finance

Post by Paul Buswell » Fri May 15, 2009 7:20 pm

EL obviously has never observed the working of any major charity. They all have professional staff and volunteers doing much more work for nothing. If I am bizarre in my activity, so be it.
I'm with Stewart on this one. The idea that a national organisation of the size of the ECF can function without a professional core office is frankly risible.

There may be problems with how the office is run, there may well be issues over the competence of some of the voluntary Directors, I'm sure there are all sorts of improvements to be made, but the idea that national chess in the 21st century can be run entirely by volunteers from their sitting rooms is half a century out of date and should be booted thoroughly into touch.

Personally I'd go the other way: appoint a competent energetic professional as managing director on a decent salary with a remit to lead; and pay the volunteer Directors a modest honorarium in recognition.

Paul Buswell

(who ran the BCF office, on a salary, for 11 years)

Matthew Turner
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Re: Director of Finance

Post by Matthew Turner » Fri May 15, 2009 7:50 pm

By the figures discussed earlier, we are talking about admin costs accounting for 80% of the ECF's income. This might be something of an exaggeration, perhaps it's only 60%, but it is simply far, far too high and getting worse. Many people have recognised the problem but no-one has been able to do anything about it. Perhaps losing the Government grant would be a way of focusing minds.
Imagine we lost the £60,000 from the Government and we could only spend £60,000 on admin rather than £120,000. Could the ECF survive? Well, I think so. Perhaps we could scrap the Office and give the key directors money in order to pay for their own secretarial and clerical requirement, thereby saving on 'physical' office costs.
Of course I wish the ECF could change without the need for a cataclysmic event, but I'm afraid it seems to be a bit of a General Motors scenario.

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Re: Director of Finance

Post by Ian Kingston » Fri May 15, 2009 7:55 pm

Stewart Reuben wrote:Ian, you may be confusing English chess with the ECF. The 4NCL and UK Chess Challenge were both created by individuals working outside the ECF
You misunderstand - I was thinking of the abortive attempt by the Regan regime to change things and the frustration expressed by those who resigned. That doesn't exactly encourage others to come forward.

To my mind, the ECF should mostly be concerned with national infrastructure. Running the 4NCL or the UKCC is not really the role of a governing body.

I agree in principle with Paul Buswell's suggestion. However, I wonder how easy it would be for an MD to function under the present ECF structure. To whom would he or she be accountable, for instance?

Matt Harrison
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Re: Director of Finance

Post by Matt Harrison » Fri May 15, 2009 8:10 pm

I have to say (as someone who has run voluntary organisations in both a voluntary and a professional capacity for the past 12 years) that I agree with Paul Bushell here. What I think the ECF needs is to do is use its financial resources to employ a professional CEO to drive the organisation forward, secure funding and work full-time on the leadership role that the job demands. For some years in the 1990s I was involved in another voluntary campaigning organisation as an unpaid director in an organisation with 4 admin staff. It was a very frustrating task, and much of the membership complained about the resources expended on the office in the same way as the discussions here tend to do. Not until the structure was reshaped and a professional CEO brought in was the organisation able to act professionally, lobby for additional funding and secure real benefits for its cause.

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Director of Finance

Post by Carl Hibbard » Fri May 15, 2009 9:41 pm

People working from remote locations using ADSL and a single VOIP number could surely meet most of the requirements?
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Carl Hibbard

Simon Brown
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Re: Director of Finance

Post by Simon Brown » Fri May 15, 2009 11:49 pm

I agree with Paul and Stewart on this. When I was a BCF director,about 100 years ago, I visited the office a number of times and found the then staff (including Cynthia) to be helpful and efficient. If the office costs only £120k a year, that sounds cheap to me. I don't know the numbers but it sounds like the staff are paid a pittance. I pay my secretary £50k a year, admittedly in London, and she isn't half as bright or qualified as Cynthia. The notion that what they do can be done from someone's living room is just nonsense.

What you need is a strong MD, paid sensibly, and some sensible Directors who are modestly paid for doing their job well.

The problem would be how to pay for it, and this is where the weakness of the Directors shows itself, as they will never find the cash. You won't get more in the grant - in my opinion, you are lucky to get what you do. There needs to be somebody in the ECF - perhaps that powerful MD - who can get out there and find money. It isn't impossible, but it is if you don't employ (i.e pay) somebody with the skills to do it. The ECF needs to be run like a business, not, with respect, a working man's club.

This is exactly what I was saying when I was a director (early 90s, I was exaggerating) and the fact that I was ignored was one of the many reasons I resigned.

Good luck. You need it.

Simon

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Ben Purton
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Re: Director of Finance

Post by Ben Purton » Sat May 16, 2009 12:24 am

Your secretary better look good for 50k, I mean for 50k you need one King Bill Clinton would be proud of.
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Re: Director of Finance

Post by Simon Brown » Sat May 16, 2009 12:42 am

She looks fine, but not that fine, And she's a good secretary. And £50k isn't unusual where I work

Paul Buswell
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Re: Director of Finance

Post by Paul Buswell » Sat May 16, 2009 5:34 am

Carl Hibbard wrote:People working from remote locations using ADSL and a single VOIP number could surely meet most of the requirements?
If you take away the resource of a central office are you not then limiting your pool of senior volunteers to those able to provide facilities within their own homes?

PB

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