AFR Consulting: Financial recruitment is no numbers game

By Ged Henderson

21 May 2024

Afr Anniversary 1

For 20 years specialist financial and accountancy recruitment agency AFR Consulting has delivered its services with one strong message to its clients: ‘Numbers are your life, people are ours’.

Over that time the Lancashire based business has adapted to survive economic downturns, the credit crunch and a pandemic and throughout it all has continued to service those clients in its own unique way.

There have also been many highs along the way, include launching the prestigious North West Finance Awards in 2010 and developing a strong networking community for finance directors across Lancashire.

Since launching in 2004, AFR Consulting has developed into one of the most established financial recruitment companies for the business and accountancy community across Lancashire and north Manchester.

And it puts that success down to the director-led service it provides candidates and clients which is both personal and professional, with the emphasis on quality rather than quantity.

Over the past two decades AFR estimates it has placed more than 3,000 candidates into a wide variety of roles, and has arranged over 8,000 interviews with clients along the way.

Today the business is run by two co-directors.  Simon Speak is one of the original founders of AFR and Tammy Smith has been a director with the organisation since 2008, though they can trace back their working relationship together over more than two decades.

Simon, 50, explains that AFR began life to simply fill a gap in the market. He says: “At the time there was no-one outside Manchester catering for the Lancashire market.

“Businesses couldn’t get that local knowledge and expertise from people who really knew the area. We saw that as our sweet spot.”

He adds: “The business developed from that starting point really. Also, we just enjoy doing recruitment.

“We like running the process from start to finish and engaging with candidates and clients, building relationships with them.


“We enjoy that hands-on approach and I think that is what makes us different. It is a business model that serves us very well.

“We also pride ourselves on our knowledge of the market and our connections within the industry. We get to know businesses so that we can make the perfect match.

“Those relationships we have built have led to many long-standing clients. We think that all clients deserve to be treated with honesty and integrity.

“If you are seeking to use our services and place a vacancy with us, we will ensure you receive candidates that meet your specifications, are well prepared for interviews and arrive when they say they will.

“Our environment is not target-orientated so we will not send inappropriate CVs or waste your time with non-suitable interviews. If we cannot provide what you’re looking for, we will be totally honest and say so.”

Simon and Tammy have established a solid network of contacts in Lancashire businesses, both with the clients who are recruiting and candidates on the job market.

Tammy specialises in placing accounts managers, office managers, accounts assistants, purchase ledger clerks, credit controllers, bookkeepers and payroller clerks on a permanent basis.

Simon works to find candidates for more senior roles, from management and financial accountants through to, financial controllers and finance leadership roles.

Tammy, 47, says: “We are meeting the demands of clients who find it hard to find good quality people. That means having honest conversations and giving good advice.

“The challenges are still the same but I still love finding people a job and giving a good service to the client.

“I enjoy the feeling of interviewing someone and thinking, ‘you’re it, you’re the person we are looking for’. It’s always a great moment.

“People value what we say and what we genuinely know from our years of experience and we are always aware that we are talking about someone’s career.”

Looking back at the finance awards launched by AFR, and the black-tie affair that became a highlight of the region’s accounting profession for many years, Tammy reveals the idea came from a simple conversation.

“I just remarked that there was nothing like that for the level of candidates I was working with, and it just grew from there as I felt that everyone in the finance team deserved recognition – the unsung heroes” she says.

The awards may be no more but AFR’s commitment to the finance and accountancy community in Lancashire remains as strong as ever.

The business pioneered and continues to run a networking event for financial directors and senior finance professionals, along with chartered accountants MHA and Barclays bank.

Established in 2010, the Finance Director Network is an opportunity for FDs and CFOs to discuss their challenges and find solutions with the help of their peers.

There are discussion groups as well as talks from keynote speakers, designed to give FDs insight and knowledge into areas that might make their jobs easier.

Simon says the next event will take place on July 11 at Farington Lodge in Leyland and it will examine what the future of work looks like for business in the region.

The partnership between Simon and Tammy works well, Simon describes it as “balanced”.

They both work to their strengths, while supporting each other.

He also points to the way the business has continually adapted to change throughout its existence, adding: “We have always been a lean and nimble organisation”.

He adds: “Some of the people who worked with us in the early years are now senior managers in national recruitment businesses or running their own recruitment companies which I believe is a testament to our ethos and quality focused approach.

“Both Tammy and myself are really proud of the fact that we are still here and are looking forward to continuing to support the accountancy community and businesses in the area.”

Enjoyed this? Read more from Ged Henderson

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