Q&A: Sytner’s Adam Collinson


Sytner Group’s Chief Financial Officer Adam Collinson discusses the complexities of automotive financial transactions and his advice for someone looking to get into the sector

What measures do you use to assess your organisation’s financial performance?

As with all automotive retail companies, profit before tax by dealership and brand is obviously a very important measure. Crucially, we have always had a strong internal forecast culture in Sytner, with every dealership forecasting financial performance, in detail, every week.

From a KPI perspective, as part of a US public company, some of the key metrics for our US parent company, such as selling, general and administration expenses (operating expenses) versus gross profit and total compensation (total employment costs) versus gross profit are a key focus point for all our of management teams.

What data don’t you currently get, that you’d like to see?

Nothing. We have a positive data overload, if anything. Performance data forms a key part of our internal culture and enables us to monitor and measure performance across the business, but more importantly to enable our colleagues to continue to improve their performance and execution, as we move forward.

What one thing about automotive retail would you change to make your job simpler?

I don’t really know. It’s certainly a complicated industry with the multitude of manufacturers and consequently a myriad of business and operating systems. But I have personally worked in automotive retail now for 24 years, and like many people, have found that the people, energy, speed of change, and creativity make it a unique and special sector to work in.

How much impact on your business will the switch to EV’s have?

The impact on our business from the switch to EV’s is not possible to quantify currently. What’s also relatively clear is that any potential impact will most likely be over a significant, long-term, timeframe.

What’s your key focus for the next six months?

I think it’s important that we continue to retain many of the innovation, practices and working habits that we’ve developed during this challenging COVID-19 period. Many businesses have evolved positively during the pandemic, and we do need to retain the positive elements of these changes as things increasingly return to normal (hopefully).

What are your longer term priorities?

To ensure that our financial controls and financial reporting processes remain best in class, and that our finance teams remain at the heart of our business, and fully motivated to support our operational managers and colleagues on a day-to-day basis.
If achieved, this will then support the further growth and development of Sytner Group, and thereby continue to present opportunities for all of our colleagues to grow and develop their careers.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

I think it‘s a tough industry to work in, from an accounting standpoint. Substantially all of the transactions are bespoke, and high value in terms of vehicle sales, so the day-to-day work is high-risk and somewhat pressured. But it’s a great industry to work in; dynamic, fast-paced… I would highly recommend the automotive retail industry in general, and specifically Sytner Group, as a great place to work in finance and accounting.