PAGB, the consumer healthcare association, is the trade body for manufacturers of branded over-the-counter medicines, self care medical devices and food supplements in the UK. Its codes of practice underpin self-regulation of the consumer healthcare industry, ensuring products are advertised responsibly and with no misleading claims.
In 2019, PAGB celebrated its centenary and the demand for its support continues to grow as new products come to market and online advertising expands exponentially.
Hillier Hopkins has provided PAGB with audit and advisory services for 14 years, helping the organisation transform its accounting function with a move to the cloud-based Xero accounting platform.
“Our mission is to empower self care by being the expert voice of the consumer healthcare industry,” says Lorraine Lee, the Finance and Facilities Manager at PAGB.
“We do this on behalf of our members through effective self-regulation and ensuring best-practice in the product literature, packaging and advertising consumer healthcare companies produce. We have been doing this for over 100 years.”
PAGB, a not-for-profit organisation, works alongside consumer healthcare companies of all sizes in the UK. It provides regulatory support that includes lobbying government on legislation and tax matters and an advertising compliance service to assess and approve member companies’ product literature and advertising. And whilst it is a voluntary trade association, its member companies account for two-thirds of the UK consumer healthcare market and 48 of the top 50 consumer healthcare brands. Its codes of practice form the industry standards for product literature and advertising, supported by an extensive training programme.
“The support and guidance we provide quite simply saves consumer healthcare companies considerable amounts of time and money,” says Lorraine.
PAGB has 16 full-time members of staff. Its regulatory team includes pharmacists and industry experts while its advertising compliance team numbers science graduates who bring a wealth of knowledge to the role. They are supported by extensive training by PAGB and part of their role is understanding the rapidly changing social media landscape.
“The advertising compliance team is always busy,” explains Lorraine. “Social media has changed the way we and our members work and keeping on top of that landscape is an important part of the role.”
Lorraine is responsible for PAGB’s finances and facilities, both of which have changed radically.
As for many businesses across the UK, the Covid pandemic has changed the way the organisation works. Staff have worked from home and delivered training sessions remotely via videoconferencing technology but it has, says Lorraine, been a relatively easy and straightforward change.
“We quickly made the shift from office to homeworking. Our IT systems were strong and adaptable, and all staff were provided with laptops to enable them to continue working.
“Member training programmes also transitioned easily to online platforms. Before the pandemic, members would travel to our London offices for training programmes, but these sessions were quickly moved online, enabling members to join remotely.
Lorraine has worked for PAGB for eight years and in 2017, with the help of Hiller Hopkins, embarked on the transformation of its accounting processes. It was a journey that started when PAGB’s legacy accounting platform quickly became obsolete and was no longer supported by its provider.
It was Hillier Hopkins’ cloud accounting expert and outsourcing coordinator Wes White who recommended PAGB consider Xero.
“We trialled Xero and it was brilliant,” says Lorraine. “Wes and his team led us through the transfer, training and ongoing support. We have been using it ever since.”
Just before the first lockdown in March 2020, Lorraine started to explore the bolt-on packages that Xero offers, including ApprovalMax for its purchase orders, accounts payable and accounts receivable. PAGB has since added Timetastic to manage staff rotas and holidays, and Dext for expenses.
It has, says Lorraine, been a godsend.
“When first working from home, the amount of paperwork being generated was astonishing. Xero’s bolt-ons have been fantastic and have almost removed all paperwork from our accounting processes. It makes working from home so much easier, and that will be vital when we work both from home and the office.
“Hillier Hopkins have helped at every step – they have been fantastic. Wes introduced me to these bolt-ons and helped introduce them into our systems. He is always on the end of the phone when I have questions, and having Hillier Hopkins there to fall back on for professional advice and support is invaluable. I really cannot fault them”.