Big Four chiefs should aim for village fete roles

by Taking Stock

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18 Jul 2012

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Big Four breakup

BIG FOUR CHIEFS normally have quite a lot on their plate, TS notes.

Appearing in front of select committees defending the profession, or coming up with grand strategies and forming executive committees – all in a day's work for the head honchos.

So you'd be forgiven in thinking that they go for the easy life when they leave, with chairing village fete committees the most likely stress to face in retirement. Maybe holding a few non-exec posts would've been viewed as a nice way to wind down the career in the past – and perhaps a threat of receiving an honour or two from Her Maj down the line.

So how have the previous Big Four incumbents – E&Y's Nick Land, Deloitte's John Connolly, PwC's Kieran Poynter and KPMG's Sir Mike Rake – fared?

Well, as is obvious, Sir Mike has picked up a knighthood as well as a couple of top chairmanships: BT and easyJet. But it's not all fun and games. Things haven't been straightforward at the budget airline provider, where Sir Mike and the board have faced run-ins with governance advisors Pirc and founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

Even today, Haji-Ioannou has called on Sir Mike to step down due to his City links. Those links include the deputy chairmanship of Barclays.

He is tipped to take on the chairman role, and would likely step down from his other board commitments. Talk about frying pans and fire.

Then there's John Connolly, who will need all his considerable business skills to turn things around at G4S, where he serves as chairman.

Nick Land is certainly not out of the limelight, heading up the audit and risk committee at Vodafone, alongside senior roles at Alliance Boots, BBA Aviation and the FRC.

Last, but not least, is Poynter, who non-execs at British Airways/Iberia, International Airlines Group amd BAT, and is chairman of Nomura.

So current chiefs John Griffith-Jones (KPMG), Dave Sproul (Deloitte), Mark Otty (E&Y) and Ian Powell (PwC) will need to think very carefully about what they're letting themselves in for.

Perhaps TS should have told them sooner. After all, Griffith-Jones is heading off to chair the new FSA replacement body, the Financial Conduct Authority, next year. Oof.

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