FIS Conference: Embracing change in the finishes and interiors sector

We have decided to go virtual for our annual conference this year, but rather than ask you to carve out a day, we want to make September a month focussed on understanding the drivers, embracing change and seizing your future in this amazing sector.

22 September: Contracts and fair risk exchange in the finishes and interiors sector

Date: 22 September

Time: 13:00 – 14:30

Ninety years ago, our grandfathers agreed the fairest way to share risk and manage complex relationships was carefully crafted standard contracts – JCT was born. From day one we then set a process in place where these standard contracts are routinely amended to a point where they are barely recognisable and force risk through the supply chain.  We introduced retentions to support quality, but they have become collateral in negotiations and a line of cheap credit.  Instead of calling ourselves builders or constructors, we have even bound ourselves tighter in the contractual chains by calling ourselves ‘contractors’.  In this session we ask is the contractual and procurement process now completely at odds with effective risk management, delivering quality in construction and ultimately making us uninsurable.

Our three keynote speakers will cover:

  • Is the standard contract a myth, how do we need to shape our contractual relationships in the future
  • Procuring to deliver quality and support effective risk management
  • Fair payment, moving beyond the old adversarial construction approach

These speakers will be joined by familiar faces from the sector to look at the key trends that are driving change and how the finishes and interiors sector is and will need to react.

  Guest speakers

Liz Barclay – Small Business Commissioner

Liz is a small business and consumer affairs broadcaster, producer and writer. She started her career as an adviser and then CEO with Citizens Advice before moving into radio and TV production and presentation specialising in business and consumer affairs. She is Financial Inclusion Commissioner; Chair of the BSI Consumer Forum and the Fair by Design Campaign; a non-executive Director of 2 organisations and a member of the Standards Boards of the Fundraising Regulator and The Equity Release Council. She is also an Ambassador for the Money Advice Trust and Business Debtline.

Liz works with Boards and small businesses on improving governance, trust and culture, diversity, and understanding customer behaviour. She coaches communication and presentation skills, chairs national and international conferences and has written several books on business.

Liz was appointed the role of Small Business Commissioner in July 2021 to spearhead the national effort to crackdown on delayed invoices – which cause thousands of small businesses to close every year.

Liz will be the first female Small Business Commissioner, a post which was created in 2016 to help small businesses secure the payments owed to them and to galvanise UK businesses behind a new culture of prompt payment.


Jon Miller, Partner – Fenwick Elliott

Jon was originally a mechanical apprentice who re-entered full time education to qualify as a solicitor and is now a Partner with Fenwick Elliott LLP, the UK’s largest solicitors practice dealing exclusively with construction issues. Jon is also a practicing adjudicator, mediator and arbitrator.

Jon has been involved with standard form contracts for over 40 years and has recently negotiated and drafted amendments to standard form contracts for several office refurbishments, distribution centres, supermarkets Crossrail packages, as well as being heavily involved in relation to the fit out of a  permanent TV set in the UK.

Graeme Whitty, National Product Director – Willmott Dixon Construction

Graeme has been with the Willmott Dixon business for 15 years and heads up the National Product Team for Willmott Dixon Construction. Prior to this, he has held senior roles in Preconstruction and Technical disciplines. He is responsible for shaping and implementing WD’s approach to delivering consistency and quality through the products they offer. As well as supporting innovation within the business, the National Product Team integrates new ideas and ways of working into the business to make excellent performance the norm. With a background in Preconstruction, Graeme understands the issues facing our industry through the current procurement methods and the fragmented nature of the information chain within typical construction contracting arrangements.

In the knowledge that standardisation is the future for construction, Graeme looks for every opportunity to eliminate errors and make building easier for our teams and our Customers at every stage. Recently, Graeme led the national roll-out of a specific policy regarding Fire compliance on all Willmott Dixon projects which is designed to reduce business risks to both our Customers and our own business. He currently represents Willmott Dixon on the Early Adopters panel who are helping MHCLG shape and test the emerging policy for HRRB’s and its’ regulatory framework.

Panel debate

James Reid

Construction Shield

James Reid is a former Solicitor-Advocate who specialises in insurance and re-insurance matters. He has built an insurance boutique designed to assist his construction sector clients through quality advice relating to their risks and insurance needs.

After his time in private practice in London, James has held senior positions at Marsh & McLennan and Willis Ltd looking at the quality of insurance solutions and designing innovative risk transfer solutions for financial risks.   In addition to his legal and insurance experience, James also holds an MSc in Construction Law and International Dispute Resolution from King’s College, London.

Craig Hayward


With previous experience in both manufacturing and distribution, Craig has been with distributor CCF for over 3 years; currently appointed as the Head of National Sales. One of the teams Craig looks after within this role is the Framework Account Team, which manages the supply of products through distribution to some of the largest housebuilders and main contractors in the UK. Craig also oversees a Central National Sales Function, facilitating and managing orders placed directly by some of CCF’s largest national customers.

Gordon Matheson, Director, Matheson Plumbing Company

Gordon has been involved in the construction industry for 43 years carrying out work for main contractors. Mainly under JCT Contracts and the various versions of them altered by main contractors. Gordon was asked by the CICV Forum to sit on the Scottish Government retentions short life working group earlier this year, which was set up to see if there was a need to revise how retentions are used in the construction industry, this was after the recommendations put forward by the Pye Tait Report on retentions in April 2019.

Gordon has been Director of Matheson Plumbing Co in Falkirk for almost 30 years and 1st Supplies (Scotland) Roofing Supplies for over 15 years. Served on Council for SNIPEF from June 1995 till May 2021 and as director of SNIPEF for 5 years. Have also been Chief Negotiator for Scottish & Northern Ireland Joint Industry Board since 2003 for wages and conditions in the plumbing industry. Matheson Plumbing is a member of Lead Contractors and FTMRC, both associations use insurance systems to remove retentions being held after completion of works.

  Other sessions in the programme

1 September - Building Trends


In our first session we are looking at some of the social and economic drivers of change, how society is adapting and the impact this will have on what we will be building over the next five years.

8 September - A Path to Net Zero


The CLC Roadmap to Recovery has laid out proposals to secure the future of construction, while setting the industry on a sustainable path towards recovery.  But what does this mean to projects in our sector.

15 September - People and Skills

With immigration and labour shortages hitting the headlines, we look at where we are at, how our workforce is evolving and how responsible businesses are reacting to the challenge.

29 September - Quality and Innovation


We take a peek into the future and look at the technology that is shaping our future.