The view from – Chris Wyer: Accounting & Business

The view from: Chris Wyer FCCA, finance director, Orwell Housing Association


Q. What challenges do you face at Orwell?


A.  A housing association is a unique environment, combining challenges from both the public and commercial sectors. One moment you can be working on a 30 year financial viability plan for our regulators, the Tenant Services Authority, and the next closing out a £40m loan facility to provide top-up funds for housing development. Ensuring that we continue to provide a top quality value for money service to our customers is our biggest challenge as it underpins everything.


Q.   What are the main opportunities?


A.  The expanding need for affordable housing in this country, together with the mission to shape neighbourhoods rather than just provide houses, creates a wealth of opportunities for the foreseeable future.


Q.   How has your role changed in recent years?


A.  After an initial period expanding my sector-specific knowledge, my role has expanded into the more commercial aspects: in particular, the efficient use of Orwell’s resources. This is where I can really make a difference and is very exciting.


Q.  What is your main frustration?


A.  Fitting everything in, whilst we provide the best service we can to those who rely on us.


Q.  How does being an FCCA assist you?


A.  FCCA is a qualification that provides a broad array of transferable skills, which have proven essential throughout my career in manufacturing, construction and my current job. The recent improvements in continuing professional development resources have been a great help.




Orwell Housing Association is based in Ipswich.

It manages about 3,000 homes across East Anglia, with another 220 properties in development.

It employs 300 permanent staff, plus another hundred relief and casual workers and 50 volunteers.

Roles: Chris Wyer has been director of financial services since 2007, becoming director of finance and resources in 2009.

Former roles: Group Accountant at Barnes Construction Limited 2004 to 2006; Finance Director at Bowens International Limited 1986 to 2004.


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