Contract Compliance Audits

You can play with my train set…but not the engines

Cast your mind back to your toughest ever panel-based job interview? Now make it even tougher and it will pretty similar to the grilling I received a few months ago from the European FD of a global agency network and his UK counterpart. This was before we had even started the audits of their agencies!

What does ‘independent’ really mean when it comes to contract compliance auditors?

As I read through the agency’s feedback on our draft audit report, I was somewhat surprised. Apparently, “We [the agency] provided all necessary documentation during the audit. There was only one exception, the [words deleted].” The reason why they hadn’t complied with this one (as it happens rather important) clause, was they had a group Read More

How different are financial practices in agencies around the world?

While accountancy may not qualify as being the oldest profession, it can date its history back to before the Roman times and the ancient civilisation of Babylon. ‘Modern accounting’, i.e. double entry book-keeping, really started in Venice in 1494 when Luca Pacioli published his “Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita” which contained 27 pages Read More

Are your professional relationships worth more to you than your reputation?

Let’s be honest, a presentation on marketing agency compliance audits is not, on the face of it, the most eye catching agenda item at a gathering of seasoned Marketing Directors. You may however be interested to learn that we were in precisely this situation in the slot after lunch on a sunny Friday afternoon in spring (not Read More

4 steps to successfully manage your agency finances

More and more of our clients are recognising the benefits of a structured approach towards auditing their agencies. Here we look at the four key behaviours of those brands. I was recently chewing the cud with an FD who had previously worked for 20 years within one of the large agency groups. As the conversation Read More

Agency FD left battered and sore? The reality may surprise you…

When you commission a financial audit of one of your agencies, is it inevitably going to destroy the trust in the relationship? Let’s just suppose for a minute that you were the Finance Director of an agency that we had just carried out a contract compliance audit on. Not only had we taken up a Read More

‘If one of our agencies is overcharging us, could they all be doing it?’

We are often asked ‘is agency A better than agency B when it comes to overcharging?’. The surprising answer: ‘how your brand team interacts with the agency has far more of a bearing…’ A good few years ago now, I was setting up a Finance function to support the Procurement team at a major FMCG. Read More

Is the top agency talent working on your business? Or on someone else’s?

When you change the agency’s fee structure, how do you know you’re still getting the same quality of staff on your account? In conversation with the Marketing Procurement Manager at one of our long-standing clients, it became apparent that the Head of Media had recently left the business. This meant that, for the first time, Read More

‘It’s in the contract, so it must be happening. Right?’

A major brand discovers that if you don’t look, you could be in for some surprises. As a brand working with an agency, there are some fundamental things you expect to happen: output that meets your expectations, fees to be charged as agreed, reconciliations to be performed regularly. We were approached by a well-known global brand Read More

‘Audit my agency? Dare I even look?’

With agency relationships, a golden rule is: If you’re not checking, you can’t know what’s actually going on. A large FMCG approached us after having a number of conversations about costs with one of its agencies, which simply did not seem to make sense. As a result it started to wonder whether it was being Read More

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