FD in Five Minutes: Nigel Richards

Third Sector speaks to the chief financial officer at Catch22

Nigel Richards
Nigel Richards

Why did you choose finance as a career? I drifted into it 25 years ago. Really, I’ve always been really interested in the nuts and bolts of how businesses work. I did an economics degree, and it was a natural progression from there.

What made you work in the charity sector? I never set out to work in the charity sector. For me, the most important thing is what the organisation does, over the form of governance it has. Before Catch22, I was at a company called Working Links where we delivered the Work Programme. It made me really passionate about education and getting people into work, both things that Catch22 do really well. Catch22 is a charity, and we’re very proud of that, but we call ourselves a social business. We run our business development and finance in a way that’s perhaps more akin to a business than a charity.

What do you do outside work? I’m a big music fan and go to a lot of live gigs – a few weeks ago I saw Mumford and Sons with my 15-year-old daughter. I watch Formula One, and I’m a school governor. It all keeps me busy.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career/life so far? It would probably be my economics teacher at school, Mr Kersey. He encouraged me to go to university, ignited my interest in economics, and really set me on my path.

If you were charities minister for the day, what one thing would you do? I’d stop referring to ‘charities’ as one homogenous group. If we’re split into groups, we’re split by size only, when in reality it is sector full of diverse models and structures. You wouldn’t talk about all businesses – from Tesco through to the local hairdresser – as one group, so why do it for charities?

Are you optimistic for the future of the charity sector? I’m optimistic that what we’ve seen over the past 100 years – more people into work, better healthcare, improved child mortality, better education – can continue to get better. I’m also optimistic about society, and believe that people naturally want to help others and the communities around them. Whether charities with traditional philanthropic models will play the same role in the future – that I don’t know. We’re 230 years old, and we’re very different today than we were then.

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