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Financial Problems Kill Felix

May 16 2007 14:47
Ashley Brown
The future of Felix this year is looking bleak, as financial problems look set to axe the publication.
Felix is somewhat broken

Felix is in financial trouble, with ICU Media Group's Senior Treasurer Dr Sunny Bains refusing to sign any more cheques until advertising income arrives. This step looks set to put a stop to Felix for the rest of term, with the printers demanding advance payment for every issue (due to late payment of invoices previously).

The Felix Editor prepares to find unpaid invoices

Felix Editor Andy Sykes has been struggling to keep on top of both invoicing and producing the paper, as the exams season has left him writing all the content by himself. Around £17,000 is outstanding from unpaid invoices to advertisers which has now been assigned to Deputy President (Clubs & Societies) Eric Lai to chase up. Big issues cost around £1,750, meaning money able to print an entire terms worth of issues is currently oustanding.

Sykes told Live!: "We have a large amount of income outstanding, and it should be more than enough to see us through to the end of term. No-one seems to know whose job it is to chase invoices, which in a place this size is just ridiculous. Last year, I remember Rupert chasing invoices once he'd finished printing in the summer; I have not even been allowed that luxury. At least this finally lets me get round to sorting the website out. Felix will be printed again this term, but not in the form you might expect. Watch this space."

Felix will be printed again this term, but not in the form you might expect. Watch this space.
Felix Editor Andy Sykes

This year's team inherited a financial deficit due to new computers purchased by his predecessor Rupert Neate, which has contributed to the problems this year. The smaller Felix seen this term is an attempt to conserve what little money was left, however it appears time has run out: even £1k an issue is beyond its means.

Sykes accepts some blame for being lax with invoicing, however has expressed his disappointment that Felix is not being given extra time to chase advertisers before being cut off. Senior Union officers have expressed their willingness to help, but without the Senior Treasurer on board they face little option but to allocate money from a contingency fund to tide Felix over.

The Felix website might get some stuff on it

Felix has a history of cash flow problems disappearing in the summer of 2001 due to slow invoicing, only being reinstated when revenue began to come in. The situation is not helped by the Union's finance system, which sends invoices into the ether until they magically appear paid at some non-determined point in the future. Warnings about the finances appear to have gone missing and there is some confusion over who is supposed to chase late invoice payments (this reporter recalls being told the finance office would do it during finance training).

Without some form of loan from the Union, it seems Felix will be confined their website for the rest of term. On the bright side, at least now the website might get some new content on it.

Update: Funding for one final issue this year has been agreed, which is likely to appear in June.

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Discussion about “Financial Problems Kill Felix”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
May 16 2007 16:32
 

Should Felix invoices be chased up by the union finance office like with all other clubs and societies?

Not that there is much to say on the efficiency of invoice chasing anyway, I can name a couple which never came to any conclusion, although I heard a few months back that Dave was going to hire somebody whose job it was to do this.

2. Ant   
May 16 2007 17:40
 

"like with all other clubs and societies?"

With the large amount of clubs finance transactions and paperwork, expecting the finance office alone to chase every late club invoice would not seem entirely feasible to me. Although I doubt there are actually that many clubs who handle large amounts of invoices.

The finance manual doesn't state who is responsible for chasing invoices however it does state that it is the clubs responsibility to maintain its only finance records and therefore should be well aware when it has invoices that aren't paid.

The questions this then asks is had felix been regularly in contact with Finance about its outstanding invoices, and had felix ensured that it did not continue to provide services to customers who had outstanding debts?

I know its not an easy job chasing payments but I don't think clubs can expect others to do the leg work for them when it is in their best interest to get it done, this might send a warning to others to keep more upto date with their own records.

On the other hand it is good to see a Senior Treasurer taking their responsibility seriously.

May 16 2007 18:01
 

I thought ultimate club financial responsibility came down to the club chair. For anything.

4. hmmm   
May 16 2007 18:08
 

James have you forgotten that the relevant CSC exec should also be looking at its behaviour, not monitoring its clubs properly?

May 16 2007 23:05
 

Monitoring yes, ultimate responsibilty no. And come on, you can't expect media group to monitor ALL their clubs, they've got a whole 5 of them (ooooohh)

May 16 2007 23:09
 

Well it's all very well saying that the club chair is ultimately responsible for stuff and this is true (along with the fact that CSC execs are responsible too for some of their clubs' actions), but this is an issue which requires some attention.

The union having just one account means club chairs often can't find out instantly when invoices have been paid (esp if they are bank transferred rather than paid by cheque). It is also difficult (and maybe against Union rules - not sure on this) to write an official letter demanding payment as a club chair.

In my on-the-job finance training many moons ago, I was told to issue the invoice, keep a copy and let the finance office deal with chasing it 31 days after due date.

I don't know if the finance manual has any words on whether this is still the case, or indeed if there is a template 'warning of action' letter that is available for club chairs to send should invoices be unpaid after specified date. I know I would be worried chasing up invoices when unsure of all the legal jargon and implications.

May 17 2007 02:08
 

Fair play to Sunny; I've been to see her today, and she was very understanding.

We're going to print one last issue, and that'll be it. To be honest, that's fine with me.

As for chasing invoices, well, I don't have time to do that.

8. Ant   
May 17 2007 06:09
 

I always found that if asked about some specific transactions Finance could tell you if it had been paid even if the clubs database hadn't yet been updated. Also I don't see the need for 'warning of action' often just a polite phonecall to check the invoice had been received and was being processed was usually enough to bring a satisfactory result.

I'm not getting at individuals, and I don't know how felix is organised compared to a normal club but maybe if this is a repeating issue it would be worth some people taking a proper look into the root cause, and implementing some procedures to ensure it doesn't happen again?

9. wtf?   
May 17 2007 15:23
 

Surely, f**king up on Felix is a sackable offence, anyone for another no-confidence!?

10. bigfan   
May 17 2007 15:42
 

How can Sykes say he doesn't have time to chase up invoices? The quality of felix this year doesn't seem to add up to a long time being spent on producing it on his behalf. Vote of no confidence would be appropriate but can't imagine it getting enough media coverage in Felix (for obvious reasons).

Anyway, let's be honest, most of Felix's news this year was seen here on Live first anyway.

May 17 2007 16:56
 

Dear Sir

I am deeply saddened and disappointed to hear about Felix?s financial situation. I would like to correct a few facts in your article. Last year?s Felix may have been down ?1,000, but I made a huge profit during my term of office which enabled me to buy over ?8,000 worth of new computers and photographic equipment. I also had sufficient funds to print 5,000 copies of 32 page full colour editions up until the end of summer term.

Aside from the gross financial mismanagement of Felix, I am appalled with the journalist quality of Felix this year. Last year Andy severely criticised the standard of journalism under my editorship, so I expected him to at least try and improve on my apparent failings. But quite frankly this year?s Felix is at times worse than a secondary school newsletter.

Yes being the editor of a newspaper at Imperial is hard, but that is why Andy needs to put in some serious effort. He gets paid for the sole purpose of putting to together the newspaper. Being editor of Felix is not a 9-5 job. Andy you need to put in as many hours as it takes until your producing something you can be proud of. (I often worked an over 80 hour week).

The ?there is no news? excuse is pathetic. Most if of the big news stories I covered last year were things I had found out. Andy you need go out and find some news, you can?t complacently sit back and wait for news to come to you.

You had so many opportunities to make this year?s Felix one of the best, but you have failed on every count. You could have used the publicity from last year?s Felix sweeping the board at the Guardian Student Media Awards to bring in some new enthusiastic talent and some new advertising. But you didn?t.

I would back a motion of no confidence to the hilt. I hope that next year?s editor will turn Felix around, and make this dismal year under Andy a mere blip in Felix?s history.

Yours

Rupert Neate

Felix Editor (2005-6)

I have also sent a letter to Felix for publication.

May 17 2007 16:57
 

Go on, no confidence me. You folks are happy to whinge, but refuse to change things for the better. Symptomatic of what's wrong with this place, really.

I'll happily cover my own no confidence motion.

May 17 2007 17:07
 

Yup, I'll happily admit that I tried to do something different, and I failed. I tried as hard as I could, worked the 80 hour weeks, and so on and so forth.

In the end, I couldn't make it what I wanted and it broke me. I have absolutely hated this year, and I can't wait to leave. This place is absolutely poisonous (and by this place I mean both the College and the Union) and I can no longer stand it.

If you want to no confidence me, go ahead. Can I sign my own no confidence motion?

14. pedant   
May 17 2007 18:06
 

It's nice to see that working for a newspaper has not improved Mr. Neate's spelling, grammar or style. Letters to the editor of a newspaper (even an electronic one) should be addressed 'Sir,', not 'Dear Sir,' (provided the editor is male, of course). He (if indeed it is he) has also managed to mistype his own email address.

Felix has been a vast improvement on the sensationalist gutter press we were subjected to last year.

15. An0n   
May 17 2007 19:25
 

"Most if of the big news stories I covered last year were things I had found out"

Mr Neate, some would say that that phrase should have been "made up" rather than "found out". The great difficulty with which you obtained your Honorary membership to this union should be an indicator of how many people you managed to ostracise, persecute and defame in your tenure.

I think Andy has done a decent job, Felix has been a consistently good read up till the exams drought. Could things have been done better, probably, but there are a fair number of readers that are glad that this year has lacked the excessive sensationalism of last year.

16. wtf?   
May 18 2007 14:07
 

Nice to hear from Rupert, I do agree with his assessment of this year's Felix. Possibly the worst in my years at Imperial.

To An0n - "I think Andy has done a decent job, Felix has been a consistently good read up till the exams drought."

Mate, have you been reading the same piece of s**t that everyone else has?

Andy - "You folks are happy to whinge, but refuse to change things for the better. Symptomatic of what's wrong with this place, really."

Prey, tell what's wrong with this place? Mate, its simple to blame the tools, you wanted the job and you got it, rest is history.

17. ftw   
May 18 2007 16:17
 

If you enjoy made up news, "wtf?", then might I direct you to www.theonion.com

Enjoy.

Felix is supposed to be reporting what is happening, not making stuff up.

18. cmon   
May 18 2007 18:58
 

"Felix is supposed to be reporting what is happening"

...well its not like it's doing that either!

19. Sam   
May 22 2007 11:00
 

Dear wtf?,

"Possibly the worst in my years at Imperial."

You clearly haven't been here long enough. This was not a particularly poor year compared to some others in living memory.

20. wtf?   
May 22 2007 13:33
 

Sam, hence the reference to "my years", obviously one questions why we continue to allow incompetence to flourish?

May 22 2007 17:56
 

You (the students) elected him. You should talk to the most relevent council member who represents you if you wish to remove the Felix editor.

If you're too lazy to do something about it then stop moaning

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