Home Career Swimming through the tide of asset and financial management: David Jenkins

Swimming through the tide of asset and financial management: David Jenkins

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I am not a good swimmer. I learnt to swim as a child and completed the 100m badge, which essentially meant that I would not drown if ever I found myself in a swimming pool or the ocean. As a middle aged triathlete, I now have to be a competent swimmer. 

Improving your skills when you are older is always a challenge. Swimming is interesting because unlike cycling and running – doing more does not necessarily make you better. It involves a number of factors – stroke technique, aerobic / anaerobic endurance and head position to name a few. However, what you may not realise is that your core strength and flexibility are also very important.  

Asset managers and public works professionals often (not always) come from an engineering background. They influence the planning, design, delivery, and operation of infrastructure assets such as roads, bridges, leisure facilities, waste disposal sites and parks. These assets all need skilful management over the long term to meet the needs of our communities. 

Financing these needs can be a challenge.  The role of the asset manager is one of forecasting the costs to deliver the services our communities need however the realities of the budget invariably don’t always meet these requirements. 

In this scenario, the finance manager may have a different approach to that of the asset manager. This might be a consequence of both sets of professionals having faced different learnings and experiences during their working life. Neither are wrong they are just seeing situations through a different ‘lens’. 

Asset managers can help and play an important role to bridge gaps and differences of opinion. They can regularly review financial projections in the asset management plan to ensure they balance with the finance made available in the financial plan. They can appreciate the benefits of aligning the financial and non-financial aspects of asset management whilst improving financial reporting and asset management planning. 

To further bridge these gaps, asset and financial management practitioners can manage infrastructure assets in a consistent way, based on the Accounting and Asset Management Standards. It’s about both professions speaking a universal language and taking a consistent approach to achieve the overall goal. This is the optimal outcome and will provide a better return on investment in the short, medium and long term. 

Just like my swimming, you need to take a holistic approach to swim faster and more efficiently. I have spent just as much time in the pool as in the gym. My swim coach and fitness trainer come from different angles of improvement but are focused on the same outcome – to make me a better swimmer. 

At IPWEA, we have developed the IIFMM and accompanying Professional Certificate IFM, which is applicable to asset managers and finance professionals. It addresses the misalignment that can occur between asset and finance professionals, whilst providing practical solutions. 

To find out more visit www.ipwea.org/pathway