Karen Challis, Account Manager and Associate Director at Anderson Wilde & Harris

Running any business inevitably involves admin and paperwork. Having good practices in place to ensure that this is handled correctly is vital for a business to run effectively. Our team are fantastic at staying on top of these day-to-day administrative activities, but we are delighted to have recently brought Karen Challis on board as our Accounts Manager to help streamline our accounting and administrative processes even further.

Karen has a vast amount of experience in the property industry, having started as a property inspector for the lettings department of a property management company in 2007. Her role initially involved taking inventory, both before and after occupancy, and passing the information to the property managers. However, being a very sociable person, she soon found the job could be quite lonely. As she had a strong desire to expand her knowledge, she switched to the role of branch administrator where her role covered more of the legal aspects of the letting agreements.

Karen is very organised, a trait which did not go unnoticed, and she was quickly offered a supervisor position; her first steps into accountancy. It was in this role that she began receiving training in general bookkeeping, building up to attaining her AAT qualification.

Looking back, Karen laughingly admits:

To be honest, before I started the role, I thought accounting was just all about keeping good notes. When they offered me the position though, I thought, ‘OK, I need to do some exams and get an understanding of bookkeeping and double entry.’

In 2014 she moved into the role of Accounts Manager, a step that included both lettings and block management. This continued as she transitioned to a new company, where she was tasked with creating and formalising the accountancy processes.

It was in that role that I caught the bug of setting this up. I joined an existing accounts department, at a time when they were about to move to a new accounting system. So, it meant reviewing where they were, what needed to happen to ensure the accounts all reconciled correctly, and then overseeing the setup of the new system.

This setup process included everything from financials, through to ground rents and demand dates, ensuring that all the information held was correct and in good order.

There is no point in paying for a new piece of software and then bringing incorrect data across into it. It is so satisfying to get data in order, and then being able to put processes in place to ensure it remains that way.

However, Karen’s love for processes stems from an even earlier role. Prior to becoming a property inspector, Karen worked as an administrator in a team that assisted organisations become ISO-9000 certified. It was there that she learned the fine art of ensuring documentation is kept up to date, distributed to the relevant parties, and carefully filed for future reference.

Reviewing processes, tidying things up, and being able to see the results of what you are doing is immensely rewarding. After all, when processes are streamlined, we then have more time to work with the clients, because we are not bogged down with the nitty-gritty details.

In fact, within a couple of days of starting in her role here at AWH, Karen had already started sending some processes to members of the Property Management team to help them provide the information she knows she will need as new properties are brought into our already extensive portfolio.

Karen is looking forward to supporting our already strong admin team, who already work diligently to keep records in order, by working together with the different teams within AWH to streamline processes and accounting practices.

Having not worked with Valuation and Building Surveyor roles in the past, it is going to be a new challenge for me, getting to grips with what they do, but one that I am really excited about!