Case Study: Neil

Neil Sartorio

Neil Sartorio
Director – Lead for England Local Public Services , EY (Ernst & Young LLP)

"I was presented with a choice of accountancy qualifications and due to my passion for the public sector I was only interested in the CIPFA qualification that was most relevant and respected to that."

What advice would you give current students who are looking to pursue a career in public finance?

What’s your specialism – please give a brief overview of your role?

Do not be afraid to think broad and big – a grounding in public finance is useful, not just for financial career paths. Dare to dream beyond (if that is what you want to do). Most importantly, enjoy your career and make a positive contribution where possible to public service outcomes. I would hazard a guess that is why you are studying ‘public’ finance.

I’m part of the leadership team at Ernst & Young (EY) that runs the UK&I local public services (LPS) business. My specific role within the leadership team is to be the Lead Director for the England LPS business and deputy Lead for the UK&I LPS business.

We define LPS as local government, police, housing, education & charities. The professional services we provide are varied (as is typical within management consultancy), but typically focussed on supporting our clients to improve public service outcomes whilst managing the financial and demand pressures that exist within the public sector currently.

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Can you briefly explain your career journey to-date?

Since leaving university I’ve had the pleasure of working in a wide variety of organisations, but always with the focus on public sector. I have worked with central government, local government, housing associations, charities, private sector and financial sector.

I started my career journey working briefly as an Environmental Economist within central government with a particular focus on Transport policy. I then changed to become an auditor within the Audit Commission regime (working for a private sector firm). It was here that I decided to study and ultimately qualify as a CIPFA accountant.

However, the majority of my career has been focussed on being a management consultant for government & public sector clients. I have found having a varied experience of industries underpinned by a financial qualification like CIPFA to be essential in being able to progress within Consultancy and importantly bring value to my clients.

Why did you choose accountancy as a career?

I actually did not choose accountancy as a career, nor is it my career. My profession is focussed on management consultancy in the public sector. This combines my passion for government & public sector, and my aspiration to work within the consultancy industry. Undertaking the CIPFA qualification has been a key enabler to help me become a more effective consultant – it has increased my understanding of the sector and allows me to have more effective conversations with my clients.

How long have you been qualified as a CPFA?

I qualified as a CPFA in 2007.

Why did you choose to become CIPFA certified?

Due to my involvement in Assurance, it became a necessity to undergo an accountancy qualification. I was presented with a choice of accountancy qualifications and due to my passion for the public sector I was only interested in the one qualification that was most relevant and respected to that – this was CIPFA.

Why did you choose to work in public services?

I love politics and I have always believed in the importance of delivering effective public services. It was never a question of choosing to work in public services, it was a debate of how I would make my contribution.

Do you believe that your CIPFA qualification created new opportunities in your career?

I believe that CIPFA was vital in giving me a detailed understanding of how public services work (financially and non-financially) when I was starting my career. This understanding is a privilege that continues to support my career development.

What do you like most about your CIPFA membership?

I enjoy the continuing professional development (CPD) and networking opportunities that CIPFA membership provides. The sector is ever changing and it’s excellent to have a regular opportunity to discuss and debate this with fellow professionals.

How does your qualification help you in your day-to-day tasks and long-term?

CIPFA helps you make sense of the financial challenges facing public services and translate it into solutions that protect and enhance public service outcomes. An acknowledgement of the money is key to providing support within the public sector, in my opinion.