Everybody Counts

Everybody Counts - Meet Finance Manager Valerija Slavina

Hello members,

Val here, your District Finance Manager. I am excited to finally be able to let you get to know me a little bit more.

I call 3 countries my home (Belarus, Lithuania, UK), I speak 4 languages (Russian, English, French and Italian) and have countless interests. I am a former swimmer who dreamt to be an actress but ended up being a marketing professional and sustainability project manager.

I have been in Toastmasters since 2019 and took on roles of a President, VPE, VP PR on the club level, Area Director on the district level and the table topics district finalist on the speaking level. I am a member of a corporate club – Moody’s Europe and a community club – London Olympians.

When I am not working, making projections and calculations, or spending hours in the gym, you can find me improving my focus and patience at a Kung-Fu class. I am passionate about fashion and make sure to show it off when I am out enjoying a newly opened restaurant in London or attending the latest art exhibition dedicated to impressionists. Outside of Toastmasters I volunteer in a local school every week teaching disadvantaged kids English and Maths.

You might say that is the reason I got the role of the Finance Manager – I love numbers (and I am so good at sticking to a budget when I have no money). But I am equally driven by challenges. We are facing a year of uncertainty with the increased supplier costs, VAT added to the UK goods, and membership fees up. And it is rather hard to say what the future holds. But with the ongoing support from the members, encouragement from the District Leadership Team I am honoured to help navigate through financial hurdles and solve the puzzles.

I am looking forward to getting to know as many of you as possible. If you want to find out more about the District finance, do calculations together, expand your network, etc. Please reach out. And who knows, maybe by the end of the year life will put me face-to-face with someone so influential that I can still fulfil my dream of becoming an actress (keep it a secret).

But for now, Welcome to the Finance Department, where everybody counts!

Valerija Slavina

Finance Manager 2023-24

P.S. Some of you have asked about VAT being added to Toastmasters’ joining fees. I am clarifying the situation with both Toastmasters and a British Accountant, as we have received conflicting information about when and to what it should be applied. When we know more, we will inform all clubs by email.

Renewals and Forex $-£

From the Desk of the District Finance Manager

It is a pleasure to inform that our Q1 Financial Activities were all completed on time – the signoffs of our 2021/22 Year-End Accounts and Year-End Audit, and the DEC/Council-approved 2022/23 Budget was accepted by WHQ on 28th Sep.

We are now into Q2 of the Toastmasters calendar. I trust most Club’s bank signatories and accounts have been transferred over to the new Treasurers and Club Officers now have a good grasp of their budget in their Club Success Plan. Club Reserves have grown for many during the pandemic. As clubs return to face-to-face meetings, be mindful that venue hires and refreshment costs will now be incremental to zoom licenses and other costs that came in during the pandemic.

A quick scan of the renewals on 1st Oct, suggests to me that more renewals are yet to be captured. Making the situation more even challenging is the impact of the recent mini-budget announcement which plunged our currency to almost parity against the US dollar; a Sterling Weakness not seen since 1984.

With a weakening Sterling and with renewals not coming in as strong as they should be, an “MOT” on your club finances at this point may be prudent.

  1. Why not re-visit your 2022/23 Club Budget/ Plan and re-validate the membership dues collection forecast to understand better the cash inflow expected for the rest of the Toastmasters Year?
  2. Re-assess all your club commitments, especially those recurring ones such as Zoom subscriptions, Meet-Ups subscriptions, etc. What about sharing the licenses with another club in your Area as often, club meetings do not clash on the same day/time
  3. Re-forecast your cash outflow, specifically those that are denominated in US Dollars, as this will now inevitably cost more with a weaker Sterling e.g., Membership Payments to TMI, Zoom Licenses, etc.
  4. Perform some sensitivity analysis on the number of members (new & retained) and on the US$-denominated expenses to see what your end financials will could be
  5. Use a simple worksheet (example shown) to create better clarity of your club’s financials

A quick sense-check will provide you with a better insight into your club finances; hence allowing you to take the necessary interventions where required, to ensure that your club remains financially sustainable for this year and beyond.

Eddy Quah
District Finance Manager