Case studies

Royal College of Surgeons



  • 2 x Assistant Accountant (12-month fixed term contract)
  • Finance Business Partner

Client profile

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance patient care. The organisation supports over 28,000 members in the UK and internationally by improving their skills and knowledge, facilitating research and developing policy and guidance.


Robertson Bell was delighted to engage with the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) in September 2020 to place the role of an Assistant Accountant on a 12-month fixed term contract to cover a period of maternity leave within the organisation. Our consultants had previously worked with the RCS, building on an already strong and positive relationship with our main contact, the Financial Controller. Our work with the RCS was an exclusive partnership.

As the candidate market was experiencing heavy saturation of talent, particularly for charity finance roles, Robertson Bell assisted the client in understanding and building clear candidate profiles to meet the criteria for the role. This position had a central focus on reconciliation work, managing general and purchase ledgers and well as preparing and presenting journals and reports.

The consultative and collaborative process between our consultants and the client meant that Robertson Bell could effectively map out and select the most appropriate, qualified candidates for the role.

Considerations and challenges

  • The need to assess the talent pool, network and databases for candidates that were committed to the specifications of the role but would not look to move on after a few months as the position was a 12-month fixed term contract.
  • The role was recruited for during the Covid-19 pandemic, and so strong experience of being able to work well remotely was essential, particularly for an interim position where expertise was required to be applied immediately.
  • A high number of overqualified people were applying for more junior, interim roles to try and find work, and appointing a candidate that wasn’t looking for a stop gap until something more suitable came along was important.


We worked closely with the Royal College of Surgeons to develop a range of candidate profiles, both in junior candidates who could fulfil the role with more support, and in more experienced candidates who would be at the higher end of the pay scale but would require less support to get started. In being able to explore different avenues to fulfil the role, the search that our consultants undertook allowed our client to be presented with a strong cross-section of high-calibre talent.

Robertson Bell was able to deploy a broad range of assets to match the unique demands of the recruitment assignment. Executing the recruitment campaign and facilitating selection during lockdown presented some extraordinary challenges, and our ability to engage with high-calibre candidates at this time was made possible by our impressive connectivity. Our ability to manage an entirely virtual selection process without compromising the integrity of the experience for either client or candidates, demonstrated the efficacy and value of our In-Sight remote video platform.

As well as making use of our extensive candidate database of professionals working within the sector, our consultants developed a targeted advertising campaign, across a range of job boards. The unique sector-specific insight of our lead consultants proved invaluable in identifying and engaging with hard-to-find talent with the appropriate expertise and experience.


All campaign assets delivered a very strong response and were particularly effective in attracting a significant number of high-quality candidates. The final shortlist that we presented to the client was comprised of professionals sourced through a combination of existing candidate pools, job advertisements, LinkedIn, and internal recommendations.

Within this, two of the candidates put forward to the final shortlist had a commercial background, and three had not-for-profit or membership body experience. The client, although frequently used to placing candidates with relevant background experience, appointed a candidate from a commercial background who had strong finance experience. This demonstrated our ability to be able to guide and support the RCS to select the right candidate for the role, regardless of the sector background.

The successful candidate was appointed to the role of Assistant Accountant.

Further success

After a short period of time at the RCS, the Assistant Accountant received an internal promotion to a different area of finance within the organisation as they were performing so well. This again highlighted our ability to source and place high quality talent within leading organisations within critical periods of change.

As a result of this promotion, our client briefed us to source a replacement Assistant Accountant. Our consultants ran a similar process to the initial assignment, and the client was clear on two priorities:

  • They needed someone who could hit the ground running.
  • Their eyes were opened to value of a candidate’s commercial background and experience

Robertson Bell supported the RCS in placing this role successfully, with the candidate in the position at the organisation today.

Following the success of our work, our client, the Financial Controller recommended our services to another senior member of the finance function who was looking to place a Finance Business Partner.

The individual had previously worked with another agency to fulfil this role but they had been unable to find an appropriate candidate with the qualifications and skills they required.  Robertson Bell therefore completed a search for the Finance Business Partner position in the organisation, performing an in-depth market and database search of qualified candidates.

The shortlist for this role was comprised of four finance professionals, with the successful candidate at the final level in their pathway to becoming qualified. Our consultants worked with the RCS to help them to understand that they should not discount individuals from the role who have not taken their final exams, as these had been delayed due to the pandemic. This candidate is now working within the organisation to the satisfaction of the client.

The value of working with a recruitment specialist was highlighted particularly well here, as our consultants were able to work in a collaborative manner to deliver this successful placement for the client. Through making use of our existing network of highly skilled candidates, our team also positioned Robertson Bell as a strong supplier that has unrivalled access to the talent that our clients need, when they need it.

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