Case studies

Catalyst Housing

Social Housing


  • Permanent Risk and Assurance Manager
  • Interim Risk and Assurance Manager
  • Permanent Senior Financial Analyst
  • Permanent Senior Finance Business Partner (Property Services)
  • Permanent Senior Capital Accountant

Client profile

Catalyst Housing is one of the UK’s leading housing providers in London and the home counties, managing over 34,000 homes. Its purpose is to provide homes people love, regardless of tenure type while creating communities and neighbourhoods that can flourish and grow.

As a not for profit organisation, it reinvests money raised from property sales into developing and maintaining affordable homes. Catalyst Housing is a proud member of the G15 group.


Robertson Bell engaged with Catalyst Housing to place a series of five roles across its growing finance team between October 2020 and February 2021. The positions covered a broad range of areas, most predominately senior roles.

It is with great pride that our consultants have been working with Catalyst Housing since 2011, successfully placing about 10 vacancies a year into its finance team. As a member of the G15 group, Catalyst Housing has one of the biggest finance teams in the sector and needs to add high quality talent to their team on a regular basis.

In this decade-long relationship, the consultants at Robertson Bell have firmly established a working partnership with the client resulting in them approaching our team for a range of placements.

Considerations and challenges

  • The assignments were completed during Covid-19 pandemic, therefore experience of being able to work confidently in a remote setting was essential, as well as performing well in a fully virtual interview process.
  • Catalyst Housing underwent a significant merger in Spring 2019, and the need to have more dynamic teams that can handle periods of change has become extremely more important to the organisation.
  • Recruiting into a turbulent market, and within a limited talent pool of housing professionals was a significant consideration.
  • Catalyst Housing had encountered difficulties with other agencies which were not able to secure the right talent for the roles.
  • Experience working in finance within the housing sector was critical for these roles as the G15 organisation has high standards to uphold.


Each of the five roles were particularly niche and specialist. This, coupled with not having exclusivity on the search, meant that our consultants needed to understand the requirements and work quickly to ensure successful placements.

For each role, our consultants created an advertising campaign that ran across a selected number of job boards to engage with high quality candidates. We also used our vast networks on LinkedIn and other social media platforms to reach passive candidates. In addition to this we searched our expansive database of housing professionals to identify further suitable candidates.  

Risk and Assurance Manager (Permanent and Interim)

The strong relationship that our consultants have built over time with the line manager recruiting for this role was very beneficial during this search due to their busy schedule. This relationship allowed the line manager to trust our consultant’s credibility and reliability to recommend the right candidates.

We presented two very strong candidates to the client for the permanent role, one through an application and one that we had sourced from within our network. The client agreed that both candidates were so strong that they created the interim project role specifically for the second candidate.

Permanent Senior Financial Analyst

In January 2019, Robertson Bell recruited a Senior Financial Analyst into the Financial Planning and Analyst team at Catalyst Housing. This assignment was a success, and as a result, the client returned to Robertson Bell to recruit for a similar role.

Whilst our consultants were searching for suitable candidates, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and due to uncertainty, the search was put on hold. Once restrictions eased our consultants were engaged to undertake the search again for this specialist role. The successful candidate needed extensive knowledge of a particular appraisal software that is unique to the housing sector. Only certain organisations within the sector use this software which limited the talent pool drastically.

To secure this candidate, we searched through our network and database. Within our search, we re-visited a four-year-old CV which mentioned use of this software. Our consultants approached the individual and learnt that they had since become a super user of the software and were extremely qualified for the position. The candidate was put forward to the client and secured a significant pay rise for their move into the sector due to their knowledge and skills.

Permanent Senior Finance Business Partner (Property Services)

The Head of Group Accounting advised our consultants that they were preparing for a restructure that would create three new posts. They had outlined two individuals from within the organisation to promote internally, however they needed a third post filled.

Our consultants entered the market to find high calibre candidates with niche skillsets and were able to put forward 5 strong individuals worthy of interviewing. The successful candidate was another individual that came from within our extensive network. This individual had once been at another G15 organisation, but moved out of the sector, and this role gave them the opportunity to move back into a housing finance team.

Permanent Senior Capital Accountant

This role is also specialist and within a niche sector of housing. The client also required the successful candidate to be a qualified accountant, which reduced the talent pool even further.

From our searches within networks and databases, our consultants were able to engage with a candidate that had applied for a different role within the education sector but had missed out on a recent opportunity. Having worked in the remit of capital finance previously their skills and ambition aligned with what Catalyst Housing were looking for.

Following a successful interview, the candidate was appointed to the role.


Although Robertson Bell was initially competing against multiple agencies to place roles for Catalyst Housing, the organisation has now formally placed us on its Preferred Suppliers List, forming a group of three agencies that they can release assignments to. We are incredibly proud of this achievement and the long-standing relationship that we have with Catalyst Housing. Our consultants have demonstrated the value that we can add by identifying and suggesting high calibre talent, further positioning us as a recruitment partner of choice.

Robertson Bell have the expertise to place these specialist roles as we understand them. By dedicating time to each role, our consultants were able to present a final shortlist of candidates for interview that had an impressive career history and mixture of industry experiences.

All successful candidates are now working within Catalyst Housing, and the client is happy with the high level of service and talent that was provided.

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