We focus on finding the hard to find and placing the right people into the right businesses.

Our philosophy is to provide an insightful service that offers constructive advice and guidance at every opportunity in order to maximise success. 

Principle Consultants

Geoff Blackwell-Frier

Geoff has nearly 30 years’ experience in accountancy and board recruitment and a network of contacts that stretches across the UK. His experience encompasses listed, privately owned, and consultancy firms.

Julian Aronberg​

Julian has developed a niche and extensive network within the corporate functions of the Plc market, from AIM to the FTSE100.

Nick Jones

Nick specialises in executive level finance appointments for privately owned and PE backed businesses as well possessing many long-standing relationships with large listed groups for senior level recruitment.

Executive & Board Appointments

Board composition and effectiveness are critical to the success of every organisation. Aligning skills, culture and objectives is fundamental to the process of creating an effective and diverse Board.   

Directors are currently under the spotlight from employees, customers, regulators and investors to promote best practice (including sustainability and diversity) whilst achieving commercial success and maintaining regulatory compliance in an increasingly complex digital world. 

For more than 20 years we’ve helped many businesses recruit and develop their leaders.  Our clients trust us because we know what good looks like and what it takes to lead.  We believe in meritocracy, diversity and wherever possible promoting people internally to create cohesive and high performing teams. 

We have previously worked with clients to recruit for a variety of Executive & Board roles including:

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Supply Chain Director
  • Chief Operations Officer
  • Human Resources Director
  • Group Operations Director

Accounting & Finance

The demands placed upon finance functions are increasingly complex and require a variety of skills in systems development, risk management & compliance, people management, mergers & acquisitions, capital & business planning, investor relations, tax, and financial planning & analysis.  All of this must be done cost effectively and sometimes under the watchful eye of the financial regulators. 

We are experts in Identifying and recruiting high calibre qualified professionals that can add true value to your team.  As importantly, we understand the dynamics of this increasingly competitive market where the best candidates are scarce and buy backs are common.

Utilising our unique search process of proactively identifying, tracking and approaching superior quality individuals and engaging with them throughout their career we give you the opportunity to secure the best professionals in the industry. Our approach delivers time and time again for our clients, which has allowed us to develop long term relationships with a cross section of Listed, PE backed and Independent businesses across the UK.  Our market specialisms include the following:

  • Financial reporting & technical accounting
  • Risk Management & Internal audit, 
  • Tax & treasury
  • Investor relations
  • Corporate development
  • Financial management & commercial Support

Principle Consultants

Julian Aronberg​

Julian has developed a niche and extensive network within the corporate functions of the Plc market, from AIM to the FTSE100.

Nick Jones

Nick specialises in executive level finance appointments for privately owned and PE backed businesses as well possessing many long-standing relationships with large listed groups for senior level recruitment.

Paul Hey

Paul has developed a good network within PE and Consultancy firms and specialises in executive level finance appointments for privately owned and PE backed businesses.

Principle Consultant

Matthew Humphreys

Matthew joined Sphere Group in 2009 and currently heads up the business’s Supply Chain, Procurement, and Logistics division across the UK and Europe.

Logistics

The logistics industry currently finds itself in a state of rapid evolution, with major erosion of margins and surging cost pressures creating an increasing need for innovation. Gaining competitive advantage has never been more difficult and many organisations have focused on growth through acquisition whilst others have turned to private equity investment to help boost their development. Further to this, systemisation of the industry has led to an increasing demand for robotics and automation equipment to drive even greater efficiency and return on time.

It is no longer enough to be a high quality operator. Employers are increasingly in need of more highly commercial and cerebral leaders with an ability to drive change. With the attraction of top talent in to the industry still proving a challenge, there is a finite pool of people that can deliver substantial value.     

Our expert knowledge of the industry coupled with our unique search methodology gives our clients access to those elusive individuals. For over twenty years we have been helping large organisations and SMEs in the industry build highly successful teams to carry them forward.  

We have an extensive reach across the following logistics sectors:

  • Automation & robotics
  • Third party logistics
  • Retail
  • Inbound & reverse logistics
  • Ecommerce
  • Consumer manufacturing 
  • Construction
  • Automotive & defence
  • Ocean, air & rail freight
  • Trucking & road haulage
  • Logistics consultancy
 

Supply Chain & Purchasing

Due to ever changing consumer demands supply chain functions face a growing list of priorities. This ranges from the fundamentals of getting products to the end consumer, through to staying abreast of modern digital trends and creating supply chain transparency. Innovation has never been more important.

Supply chain teams have grown from being seen purely as a cost centre to playing an integral role in the ability of a business to provide an added value product or service for their customers. As such the demand for talented supply chain professionals has grown over the last few years, and the market for top candidates is extremely competitive.

We understand that to be successful in the supply chain industry you need to have more than analytical skills. You must have a wider understanding of the business and market you are operating in. Taking a holistic approach to all aspects of your work and collaborating with multiple functions at once. The ability to lead change and influence senior stakeholders is a rare skillset in a highly analytical industry, however we consistently help our clients to find and secure these individuals across a variety of sectors including the following:

  • Consumer goods
  • Retail
  • Online start-ups
  • Automotive & defence
  • Industrial
  • Pharmaceutical

Principle Consultant

Matthew Humphreys

Matthew joined Sphere Group in 2009 and currently heads up the business’s Supply Chain, Procurement, and Logistics division across the UK and Europe.

Principle Consultants

Geoff Blackwell-Frier

Geoff has nearly 30 years’ experience in accountancy and board recruitment and a network of contacts that stretches across the UK. His experience encompasses listed, privately owned, and consultancy firms.

Michele Douglas

Michele has 20 years’ experience in accountancy recruitment across the UK.  She is renowned for her tenacious approach and has developed relationships with many of the leading Investment Management & Consultancy firms.

Paul Hey

Paul has developed a good network within PE and Consultancy firms and specialises in executive level finance appointments for privately owned and PE backed businesses.

Investment Management, Consulting & Professional Service Firms​

The consulting and advisory market is an ever fast moving & changing environment with many new specialist boutiques established each year to challenge some of the most established brands in business.   More recently the changing regulations of listed markets has resulted in increasing barriers to cross selling services and some significant restructurings of larger firms.  Whilst firms targeting independent business owners are attempting to increase cross selling which has resulted in some mergers between financial advisory services and professional services firms.

Competition for the best people is this space at its fieriest with the desire to recruit and retain key people being universal irrespective of whether you are an investment management firm, management consultancy, accountancy firm, boutique, legal practice or private equity/venture capital firm.  

Utilising our unique search process of proactively identifying, tracking and approaching superior quality individuals and engaging with them throughout their career we give you the opportunity to secure the best professionals in the industry. This along with our expertise and understanding of the various disciplines means that we are fantastically placed to support you within the following:

  • Accounting Advisory
  • Management Consulting
  • Investment Management
  • Audit and assurance
  • Equity Research
  • Taxation
  • Corporate finance
  • Risk Management & Internal Audit
  • Forensics
  • Corporate recovery

10 Reasons to Partner with Sphere Group

01. We aim to have a positive influence on everyone we engage with.

02. Our consultants are established specialists with extensive market knowledge and our services give our clients and candidates a competitive advantage.

03. We invest substantial resources building relationships with top performing individuals in advance of being engaged on an assignment.

04. It is usually a combination of investing time in personally getting to know the longer-term aspirations of candidates and then putting a career enhancing opportunity in front of them that generates engagement from the higher performing candidates in the market.

05. Our search process produces balanced and diverse short lists that maximise the chance of finding the best person from a diverse candidate pool.

06. We have assisted many candidates in gaining access to opportunities and enhanced career progression through our careers advisory service.

07. We complete assignments with top performing candidates that go on to achieve promotions within our clients. Over two thirds of people we have placed below board level have been promoted within that client.

08. Our placements last. We can provide examples of people we placed at board level in 1999 who were still on those boards 20 years later.

09. We have been doing this for more than 20 years and have an extensive network of clients and candidates who will testify that our service meets and often exceeds expectations.

10. We are so confident in the quality of our service that we offer a 12 month guarantee with our retained search service.

We'd Love to Hear from You.

Contact us today to learn more about us, current assignments,  or to discuss your unique requirements.

Matthew Humphreys is simply one of the best in his business; I could not recommend him highly enough. I have never lost contact with Matthew as a result of the professional way of working.
John Prendergast
Formerly Chief Executive at Optalert Pte
Matthew Humphreys is a highly professional recruiter of senior teams and executives with that rare ability of delivering what he says he will. Over the years I have used a number of senior recruitment providers, but I return to Matthew time and time again. Matthew is excellent at understanding your business needs quickly as well as having a tremendous ability to build lasting business relationships. Quite simply I would have no hesitation in recommending Matthew to any business.
Paul Stevens
Formerly HR Partner at Wolseley Plc
Matthew Humphreys is a character who exhibits integrity and passion in equal abundance. He works methodically and in a targeted way such that he only recommends candidates who he passionately believes can master vacancies. In addition Matthew possesses an affable disposition and clearly derives high levels of satisfaction from his work.
Julian Wood
Formerly Supply Chain Controller at 20th Century Fox
I’ve worked with Paul over 18 months and he’s worked extremely hard to bring us the right candidates. He understands exactly what we need and what we expect and his knowledge of the market is great. Whenever we have a new role I don’t hesitate to contact Paul.
Adam Ward
CEO & Co-Founder at Airtime Rewards
When making the fund’s first investment in the North West of England, we were recommended to speak with Paul & Sphere Group, to help formulate a strategic plan for the recruitment of a new finance department. The plan was for a highly confidential potential portfolio business that was pre investment. Paul quickly understood our requirements and using his candidate knowledge of the local area, was able to work closely with us to formulate a structure and plan that was fit for purpose. At the point of investment, we had secured a new CFO having received an excellent quality shortlist; and already had a shortlist ready to interview for the FC position. The ability to deliver this project confidentially with such quality is testament to the Sphere operation and we would not hesitate to return.
International Private Equity Investor
(Confidential assignment requiring NDA)
I worked with Paul from a junior stage in my career to formulate a plan to achieve my goal of attaining a CFO position within the shortest time frame possible. Paul was knowledgeable, and advised clearly where gaps existed in my skill set. What was most unexpected was the advice on certain occasions not to move away from my current employer and explanation as to why this would benefit me. Having achieved this goal, I have throughout my subsequent career, received an excellent service in attracting high quality talent in building my own team when using Sphere.
Candidate
Rather than selling what he could do, Paul spent more time understanding our business and culture to ensure he provided candidates that would fit in here. The hardest part of our process was choosing one from the shortlist to offer.
Managing Director
Privately Owned Manufacturing (Confidential assignment requiring NDA)
Julian was accessible and responsive right from the start. He clearly understands the importance of being a good listener and was prepared to take as much time as required to understand our company culture and ideal candidate profile. In addition, Julian was an effective intermediary between candidate and prospective employer, with excellent communication skills even during the more difficult moments of the Covid-19 pandemic. I would not hesitate to recommend Julian and Sphere Group.
David Seekings
CFO - 4imprint Group plc
I have worked with Julian Aronberg on a number of occasions and he has always provided both me and our business with an excellent service. He has demonstrated a clear ability to quickly grasp our requirements whilst providing us with insightful advice. Julian’s knowledge of his specialist markets is excellent and he has a clear understanding of what good looks like. He has always added a great deal of value when looking to make strategic hires and I would have no hesitation in recommending him.
Nat Rothschild
Executive Chairman - Volex Plc
I retained the services of Julian Aronberg at Sphere Group to identify a new Group Finance Director to replace myself on behalf of the Board. As a fast growing listed tech company, this is a broad hands on role encompassing financial leadership, corporate governance, as well as commercial and strategic partnering. Julian spent time with me and other members of the Board to fully understand our business, future plans and requirements of the role. He advised us on the various profiles of candidates we could consider and what we may need to do to secure our ideal candidate. The main challenge with this assignment was that we needed to identify the right person quickly without compromising on quality and fit with the business. Sphere Group’s proactive search methodology meant Julian was able to identify the right people quickly and due to his thorough understanding of our requirements he delivered a credible shortlist for us. We were able to identify and recruit the successful candidate despite this being at the start of and during the COVID-19 pandemic lock down. Julian provided an excellent level of service, demonstrating a technical understanding of the requirements of the role plus expert knowledge of the candidate pool. Crucially, he was also able to match the cultural and aspirational fit of the candidates with our business. He communicated effectively during the process and delivered the project on time. I would have no reservation in using him again or recommending his services to others.
Andrew Miller
Previous CFO and Current NED - Corero Network Security PLC
"Speaking from a candidate point of view, Julian Aronberg and Sphere Group's involvement, imbued professionalism in the recruitment process from beginning to end. The start of the journey involved a first, general, exploratory meeting when Julian outlined Sphere Group's experience, background and particular specialisms and deep-dived into my skill set, experience and motivations. He also provided guidance in market trends and other useful feedback. Thereafter, taking properly into account my desires and requirements, he subsequently identified a potential opportunity which represented a very good fit and alignment for both me as candidate and for the company. The potential opportunity was discussed in depth to make sure all parameters and metrics were known and expectations were met throughout for both sides. Then throughout an extensive selection and interview process, Julian maintained constant communication and two-way feedback. At all times he was professional, courteous and pro-active. Even once in role, Julian has been in touch several times to ensure all is well for both sides, something in my experience few executive search firms actually do, preferring to move from mandate to mandate, yet essential for building a long-term relationship. In summary, I would have no hesitation whatsoever in highly recommending Julian to others to meet their future recruitment needs."
Neil Pritchard
CFO - Corero Network Security PLC
In hiring a Head of Finance, we were really pleased with the service provision by Sphere/Julian, in particular by the quality of candidates put forward and by the responsive and high quality inputs to the process”
Rob Quinn
Previous CFO of Silence Therapeutics PLC
It was a pleasure to work with Julian Aronberg at Sphere Group when I secured my position as the Deputy CFO for an AIM listed manufacturing business. Julian spent time with me to understand my aspirations and working style, considering how these aligned with the business and culture of his client. He guided me through the process, keeping me well informed at each stage. After securing my new role, Julian helped me fill an open position having identified some excellent candidates. I would have no hesitation in recommending Julian and the Sphere Group.
Jon Boaden
CFO Volex Plc
We retained the services of Julian Aronberg and Sphere Group in the search for a newly created Deputy Group Finance Director position. This was a strategic hire with the agenda of identifying an individual who had the ability to transition to the Group Finance Director position in a number of years. Julian spent time understanding our requirements fully and advised us on the role and candidate specification to ensure we were able to attract the right people. He demonstrated a thorough understanding of the personal attributes and values required to fit in to our company and be successful. As a result, Julian produced a high quality shortlist of candidates, all of whom were strong contenders for the role. From this we selected the successful candidate. Julian took full ownership, providing advice and guidance throughout, and made the whole process extremely easy. We would happily retain his and Sphere Group's services again.
Nish Malde
CFO - Inland Homes plc
" We have used Sphere Group on two occasions recently in our search for a high calibre Group Finance Director and Group Financial Controller and on both occasions Nick Jones has put forward a number of compelling CVs. We would not hesitate using them again in the future. "
David Adams
Executive Chairman – J. Tomlinson
" Nick has provided excellent support on a number of senior finance hires over the last few years. He always takes the time to understand the specifics of the role we are hiring for and provides high quality candidates that have fitted in well with our culture and have gone on to be promoted internally subsequent to joining. The communication from Nick between ourselves and the candidate is always clear and succinct. "
Luke Grant
Group Financial Controller - IMI PLC
" I have recently worked with Nick Jones from Sphere Group for the appointment of our Finance Director. I found Nick and Sphere to be very professional in their approach, spending time to thoroughly understand the role and the future needs of our business. A short list of excellent candidates was provided in the timescales agreed. After appointing from the short list, Nick has maintained his support post offer, providing us with excellent customer service. "
Clare Lundberg
HR Director – Mayflex
" Nick and his team at Sphere have always been extremely effective at securing me good quality candidates. They always understand and deliver on the brief and are really easy to work with. "
Ben Guest
Finance Director – IMI Precision
" Nick is the first port of call for all of my accountancy recruitment. Nick is personable and has a great understanding of not only the recruitment industry but also of nuances of the finance and accounting sector. "
Neil Floyd
Finance Director – ABM Catering
" We enlisted the help of Sphere Group to support us with the recruitment of a Finance Director position. This was a pivotal succession planning role for the business since the successful candidate would shortly be taking over from the current incumbent who has been with the business for over 30 years. Nick took the time to properly understand our requirements and sent a high-quality shortlist of relevant candidates who stacked up on experience and personality, one of which we appointed. The candidate is performing very well and we would have no hesitation in using Sphere Group again next time we are recruiting. "
Justin Owens
Head of HR - Robinson Brothers
" Nick has provided a good service for me in recruiting into the Group Assurance team. He does not waste my time with non-suitable candidates and is reliable and good to work with "
Paul Roughedsge
Director OF Assurance – IMI PLC
I have known Geoff Blackwell-Frier for a number of years now and he has always kept in touch and shown an interest in my career. With the Finance Director’s position at Baa Bar plc, Geoff fully briefed me on the role, the company and the process itself and I valued his honest and direct approach. After I had been appointed, I discussed the recruitment process with the Chief Executive and she appreciated the time and effort Geoff invested to understand the business culture and identify the right skill set & personality for the role. A few months later, Baa Bar utilised Sphere Group’s expertise again to recruit a qualified Financial Controller from practice.
Sue Hill
Previously Finance Director at Baa Bar
Geoff Blackwell-Frier did much more than just find me the right home. He agreed with me a strategic plan based on his detailed knowledge and experience of both local and wider opportunities, and then he held me to it. He then helped me to decide between 3 competing offers with clear objective advice. I have recommended others to use his services both as recruiters and candidates.
Nick Scull
Previously Head of Tax at Garbutt & Elliott