News from the BMC – financial position – improving it

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    Geoff Nichols

    News from the BMC

    All our club members are affiliated to the British Mountaineering Council. This accounts for the majority of your subs. One benefit is third party insurance.
    However, you will only have received this message from the BMC if you are also an individual BMC member.
    I thought I’d pass it on because its important in relation to the debate on how much BMC resources is spent on competition climbing – which I don’t think any of us do! I very much welcome the first action to improve the financial situation: to restructure the GB climbing department to bring costs in line with grants received.

    Dear Members,

    This is a painful message for me to write as one of my first major communications to you all.

    My approach from starting the role in February 2024 has been to operate with honesty, openness and transparency and the purpose of this open letter is to lay out the financial situation of the BMC, following our annual audit.

    Regrettably, today, I need to announce that the BMC made a larger than expected loss of £625k in 2023 and we have finished the financial year with our reserves down to £217k.

    These losses are significant and place a considerable amount of strain on the organisation, far beyond what was understood in February 2024 and the starting point I envisaged coming into this role.

    Since February, we have undertaken an enhanced audit of our accounts and procedures to be able to gain clarity on what has occurred in 2023 and why. This identified several misstatements that require adjustments for the end of year balance.

    A significant area of our losses relates to the funding of our performance operations. For this we apologise and recognise swift and impactful change was and is needed.

    The main reasons for these losses are grouped as follows:

    1. Reconciliation of grants relating to GB Climbing and poor controls of budgets resulting in additional cost to the BMC.

    2. Inaccurate accounting of VAT resulting in additional cost to the BMC.

    3. Profit reconciliation across several areas including bad debtors and fees for services owed.

    4. Loss of insurance income in July 2023.

    5. The costs of restructuring, redundancies, and staff departures due to not tracking ambitious growth targets.

    This year, the BMC will be focused on resetting and bringing stability to the organisation. The immediate actions we have taken are focussed on ensuring our funded activity operates within its means plus additional areas of cost saving:

    1. Restructuring GB Climbing department to bring costs in line with grants received, resulting in a reduction of 4.6 full time equivalent (FTE) roles since the end of 2023.

    2. The ending of the contract for ‘Unit E’ Performance Centre.

    3. Reducing Competition, Training and Education and Marketing budgets.

    4. Restructure of the BMC online shop from 1 August, with reduction of 1 FTE role.

    5. Reducing office overheads.

    6. Pausing recruitment for non-essential positions.

    To move towards better processes and more transparency in our financial systems we are working with an interim financial leader. We will be separating out the financial reporting of grant income from membership and commercial income as part of our accounting systems. This will be reflected in a clearer and more transparent structure between our grant funded and membership funded activities.

    The Board of Directors have recognised the need for urgent change in our risk and audit oversight and have approved structural changes to the operations of our funded areas.

    I have updated and consulted with Members Council, your elected representative group, on the status and looked for support and direction from them.

    We will be publishing the detailed audit as part of the annual report for the AGM, and I would welcome your questions and engagement in the upcoming events listed below.

    Having identified and addressed the issues that have led to this position, I am optimistic that, while the starting point is further back than I had hoped, we can commence building reserves back, remaining absolutely focussed on representing the interests of our community.

    I want to thank each and every one of you for your support, which currently is more important than ever. My commitment to you is to take care of this wonderful organisation to the best of my ability.

    Warmest regards,
    Paul Ratcliffe

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