Financial power list 2010: Where the power lies

by Accountancy Age Staff

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14 Jan 2010

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No-1-stephen-haddrill-185Stephen Haddrill, chief executive, FRC

The new chief executive of the Financial Reporting Council begins 2010 facing high expectations. He was one of the architects of the modern FRC in the early years of the decade and has spent a career building up industry kudos and government connections like few others. He has already indicated his reluctance to create a ‘Big Five’ in the top-heavy audit industry and suggested he would engage with investor groups. He also wants to more effectively influence Brussels and has been critical of the US accounting convergence strategy. In the short term, he will wrestle with the thorny issue of non-audit services and tinker with the corporate governance code, which is all under review in the wake of the global financial crisis. The profession’s eye will be watching closely as Haddrill sets out his agenda.

No-2-george-osborne-185George Osborne, Conservative shadow chancellor

Osborne’s career could reach new heights this year if his party comes to power and he becomes the next chancellor. If public voting goes the Tory’s way, his influence on the profession will be massive. But it all hangs on the General Election but, for most Accountancy Age readers, Vince Cable is first choice for the keys to Number 11.

No-3-mary-schapiro185 Mary Schapiro, chairman, US SEC

If you think that Schapiro’s impact on accounting will be limited to the US, think again. In the end it is Schapiro who will decide whether the US signs up for global accounting convergence and under what conditions. The US remains the largest piece of the jigsaw left to complete standards integration – a future where accountants can work anywhere in the world and where accurate comparisons can be made between companies on any continent. Schapiro holds the key to this. Standard setters may be working feverishly to harmonise international and US accounting rules, but it will be Schapiro who will give the final tick.

No-4-dave-hartnett185 Dave Hartnett, permanent secretary, HMRC

At a time when the government is relying on every last penny of tax revenue to bolster the UK economy, Dave Hartnett will be spearheading the charge. He will show no mercy to anyone who fails to come clean about undeclared income from assets held offshore. His department will also be entrusted with the tough task of collecting the 50% windfall tax from an unhappy banking sector. He is set to crack down even harder on tax cheats this year by signing an agreement with another major offshore centre to set up a disclosure facility – in the same vein as the deal with Liechtenstein.

No-5-david-tweedie-2185 Sir David Tweedie, chairman, IASB

This is Sir David’s last full year in charge at the International Accounting Standards Board and it will be crucial. The board’s hastily arranged projects arising from the financial crisis will produce a glut of new and amended standards in the latter half of the year. In the background, he continues to press for global standards convergence, particularly in the US, while fighting against political interference in the standard-setting process from Europe.

No-6-michel-barnier185 Michel Barnier, EU internal markets commissioner

French president Nicholas Sarkozy crowed when Barnier bagged the internal markets job, while the City of London struggled with its dismay. Questions remain about whether Barnier will go in gung-ho with masses of new regulation. Will he make it harder for the City to keep ahead of its main European competitors in Paris and Frankfurt? The French don’t like light touch and want a level playing field – not what the City wants to hear.

No-7-david-nish-3185 David Nish, chief executive, Standard Life

Nish will, pardon the pun, serve as a standard bearer for high profile finance professionals taking the top role at major companies. With the unenviable task of replacing Sir Sandy Crombie at the life insurer, Nish will have to keep an eye on former colleagues working at acquisition-hungry Friends Provident, and deal with a newly-streamlined Standard Life after the sale of its banking business. Will the former FD drive the business forward or serve as a steady hand on the tiller until the economy improves?

No-8-tony-lomas185 Tony Lomas, chairman of business recovery services, PricewaterhouseCoopers

The Lehman Brothers point man will have his work cut out again this year as the world’s biggest administration rolls on and Lomas seeks to pass on what assets remain to the company’s creditors as quickly and efficiently as the courts will let him. His influence with the Tripartite Authority – the Treasury, FSA and Bank of England – in hammering out new ways to protect the banking sector from a similar implosion in the future cannot be understated.

No-9-stacey-cartwright-3818 Stacey Cartwright, FD, Burberry

As the newest member of a very small band of female FTSE 100 FDs, a lot of demands will be placed on Cartwright. Not only has she to deliver the goods for Burberry and keep the company among the corporate elite, but she will also undoubtedly face additional pressure because of the scarcity of top-flight female FDs. The signs so far are promising, but anything can happen in the pressure cooker of FTSE 100 life.

No-10-oliver-tant185 Oliver Tant, head of audit, KPMG

Tant is said to be the next big thing in the audit profession when it comes to an unofficial figurehead, just as PwC’s man of influence, Peter Wyman, steps out of the limelight. He has already hit the headlines after defending the firm’s controversial audit/non-audit services package at Rentokil that has divided opinion in the profession. With that issue still hot and a continued focus on the future of audit, expect to hear much more from Tant in 2010.

11 Alistair Darling, chancellor of the exchequer

Gordon Brown recently hinted that the current chancellor may still deliver a Budget before a General Election but, unless Labour manages a remarkable turnaround in the polls, it will likely be Darling’s last and any measures introduced could be quickly nullified by any new government coming in to power.

13 Bob Herz, chairman, FASB

The next move for the chairman of the US accounting standard setter will be largely determined by the SEC’s view on the convergence roadmap. Should it press ahead, Herz will have his hands full attempting to marry IASB standards with the interests of US accounts filers and persuading the more reluctant members of his board to accept changes from abroad.

14 Baroness Hogg, incoming chairman, FRC

In May, Baroness Hogg will fill the sizeable shoes of respected accounting figure Sir Christopher Hogg as FRC chair. It’s not known for certain whether Lady Hogg will continue her predecessors’ work on corporate governance – she presently serves on the corporate governance committee – but with the topic still a headline issue, her influence will leave its mark on boardrooms across the UK before long.

15 Cameron Scott, executive counsel, AADB

Cameron Scott will barely have time in 2010 to breathe. With 10 active investigations and a number of others being considered behind closed doors, this will be by far the busiest year in the Accountancy and Acturial Discipline Board’s short history. This year will also see Scott petition the government to expand its ability to seize internal company documents.

16 Sir Jonathan Parker, chairman, Equitable Life appeal tribunal

After much toing and froing, the investigation into E&Y’s audit of Equitable Life between 1994 and 2000 is set to conclude. Sir Jonathan, a former Lord Justice of Appeal and High Court judge, chaired the appeals tribunal in 2009 and his report is imminent.

17 Louise Brittain, reorganisation services partner, Deloitte

Brittain has been penned as one of the highest profile personal insolvency specialists in the UK, having worked on cases such as the Cheeky Girls, Kerry Katona and Bruce Grobbelaar. She only recently joined the Big Four firm, having spent 14 years at Baker Tilly. She is considered the go-to girl when it comes to large fraud investigations.

18 Spencer Stuart, headhunters for next IASB chairman

Not a person, but a firm, Spencer Stuart is tasked with the impossible-sounding role of replacing Sir David Tweedie as the head of the International Accounting Standards Board. Tweedie will step down in 2011 and the hunt is on for a replacement. Recruiters are set to scour the globe over the next few months for suitable candidates. The decision will no doubt influence the profession for years to come.

19 Ashley Almanza, CFO, BG Group

The well-respected Almanza currently heads the Hundred Group of Finance Directors. The influential organisation, which usually operates under the radar, speaks out periodically on major issues. With businesses still struggling to survive the economic conditions and a General Election on the horizon, Almanza’s voice will surely be heard.

20 Stephen Smith, interim FD, Vantis

A boardroom reshuffle at the troubled AIM-listed accountancy consolidator has seen Stephen Smith parachuted in as an interim FD. His skill set is rooted in helping mend wounded businesses, and the turnaround specialist will be kept busy at a business that has faced negative press over its marketing of tax schemes and is understood to require cashflow nursing.

21 John Connolly, global MD and UK chief executive, Deloitte

Connolly boldly stated in 2006 he would grow the business by £2bn in two years, which he achieved. His task this year is to continue strong growth, put the pressure on top firm PwC, and avoid criticism such as that over Deloitte’s £58m fees for auditing RBS accounts, despite the bank’s substantial government bailout.

22 Pauline Wallace, head of public policy and regulatory affairs, PwC

The UK’s largest firm has always been vocal in lobbying government on accounting issues – industry grandee Peter Wyman was key in this. He retires this year and Pauline Wallace takes up the mantle at a time when auditors and standard setters remain under fire from politicians and companies hunting for scapegoats.

23 Sir Nicholas Warren, president, Upper Tribunal Tax and Chancery Chamber

Sir Nicholas heads up the new judiciary body charged with sorting out wrangles between the taxman and every business from sole traders to blue-chip companies. With legal recourse being sought to settle multi-million pound battles in some cases, the decisions of Mr Justice Warren and his fellow judges will be eagerly awaited.

24 Ian Powell, chairman and senior partner, PwC

The insolvency expert will be at the helm of the UK’s biggest practice as PricewaterhouseCoopers and the rest of the profession try to position themselves in the best way to service clients’ needs while retaining staff and keeping revenues ticking over. To do so, he will need to keep a tight hand on the reins.

25 Richard Meddings, FD, Standard Chartered

Meddings was part of the crisis cabinet that formulated the first UK bank bailout. As FD, he has also presided over one of the few banks that was virtually untouched by the sub-prime crisis and continued to prosper. His professional stature is at its peak.

26 Mark Freebairn, head of CFO practice, Odgers Berndtson

This CFO-placing expert has extolled the virtues of senior finance professionals taking on chief exec or chairman roles in recent months – but will an economic upturn see number crunchers as less desirable for the top roles? He’ll argue not.

27 Larry Ellison, chief executive, Oracle

Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems could change the face of financial software. The deal with Sun, which owns the Java language, has already been approved by the Ministry of Justice in the US but Ellison, a stakeholder in the largest online financial software supplier NetSuite, is waiting on the EU’s verdict later this year.

28 Angela Knight, chief executive, BBA

Banks have found themselves under the cosh from the government. The British Banking Association’s chief will be leading talks with the Treasury and HMRC to clarify exactly how the controversial 50% bonus tax is meant to work and also who is caught in its net.

29 Douglas Flint,FD, HSBC

HSBC hit problems early in the crisis, but it was thanks to the work of directors, including Flint, that they were dealt with quickly, leaving the bank to emerge with its reputation intact. Flint is highly respected among regulators, who listen to what he has to say. As the banks struggle with recovery, his influence will no doubt grow this year.

30 John Griffith-Jones, chairman, KPMG

With revenues down (but not out) at KPMG UK and its parent European business, Griffith-Jones has his work cut out. The straight-talking KPMG boss does not predict mega-growth for 2010 – but says the firm has “taken
the pain” and is targeting more consultancy work for the firm around IT – not big scale implementations though.

31 Mike Rake, chairman, BT

Also chairman of EasyJet and a board member of the Financial Reporting Council, Rake oversaw the writing of new reporting guidelines for private equity companies. It’s this that will be debated during 2010. However, Rake, a former head of KPMG, is one of the most respected figures in the City and his influence will continue to grow.

32 Stephen Speed, inspector general, Insolvency Service

Stephen Speed will see his workload skyrocket as insolvencies spike at the
end of a recession. The EC announced it will look into member states’ insolvency processes in 2012 – the Insolvency Service is trying to pre-empt this move.

33 Peter Sargent, president, R3 and Begbies Traynor partner

The insolvency sector had many critics in 2009 but Sargent strongly defended the its reputation, justifying insolvency practitioner’s decisions, fees and processes. When the OFT investigation into IPs fees comes to an end later this year, Sargent is expected to take centre stage.
34 Mark Otty, managing partner, Ernst & Young
Mark Otty sits atop E&Y’s global empire, having worked his way up the ladder since joining as an audit trainee. The media shy, fitness fanatic is responsible for 62,700 people and 3,300 partners in an organisation worth £7.1bn.

35 Malcolm Preston, global head of climate change and sustainability, PwC

Preston has been at the firm for 26 years, but recently he has risen through the ranks from head of leisure and tourism to chief executive of the sustainability and climate change practice to global head of sustainability. The firm will need all its resources as the largest 5,000 companies in the UK will have to pay and report on their carbon from this year.

36 Frank Sangster, tax partner and head of environmental tax and incentives, KPMG

Sangster has been very outspoken regarding carousel fraud on VAT payments for carbon trading in the UK. He has been campaigning for a unilateral approach across EU member states to minimise fraudulent activity. As head of the environmental tax department, he has been steadily growing the firm’s sustainability practice to place KPMG at the forefront of environmental advisory services.

37 Michael Izza, chief executive, ICAEW

Last year, the government put a lot of faith in Michael Izza. The institute’s chief has now helped out with finding valuers for both Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley. He is a trusted man by those in power and 2010 could see his reputation and responsibilities enhanced even further regardless of who wins the election.

39 Kerrie Kelly, director general, ABI

Investor groups will be in the spotlight this year and Kerrie Kelly sits at the top of one of the most influential. The Australian former lawyer, who is currently the executive director and CEO of the Insurance Council of Australia, will head up the Association of British Insurers in the post vacated by new FRC chief Stephen Haddrill.

40 Ian Mackintosh, chairman, ASB

For most accountants in the UK, 2010 will be a painful year, and behind it all will be Accounting Standards Board chairman Ian Mackintosh. Under Mackintosh, the UK will walk away from UK GAAP and begin using international standards for small and medium sized businesses. Change on this scale may, in the long term, make all accountants’ lives easier but, like all transformation, it’s likely to hurt along the way.

41 Andy Raynor, CEO, Tenon

Just before Christmas, Raynor took Tenon through a merger with RSM Bentley Jennison – making it the seventh largest firm in the country. He’s led the business through hard times and now it seems to be taking off. Keep an eye on Tenon for more ambitious growth this year.

42 Sue Aspinall, team leader on the OFT market study into corporate insolvency

The OFT made an announcement towards the end of last year that it would be carrying out a study into the corporate insolvency industry, lead by Sue Aspinall. She has previously worked on an investigation between the OFT and Which? to separate the Law Society’s functions. Her findings could have major consequences on corporate insolvency practitioner’s fee structures.

43 Tony Fragnito, chief executive, XBRL International

XBRL steps up a gear as we come closer to the final fiscal year that HMRC and Companies House will accept other methods of filing. From April 2011, all will have to be in the iXBRL format. Fragnito will be working closely with various accountancy firms on how to incorporate XBRL on the IFRS roadmap.

44 Prem Sikka, professor of accounting, Essex Business School

Few in the accounting world don’t have a view on Prem Sikka. The outspoken professor of accounting is a voice of dissent within the profession, and routinely rages against perceived injustices. But his blog, on The Guardian’s website, reaches an audience seldom addressed by traditional accounting media – the general public.

45 Aidan Birkett, MD corporate finance, Deloitte

Despite having personally restructured more than $100bn in debt during his career, Birkett will have his hands full sorting out the mess at Dubai World. He is leading the restructuring of £36bn debt and will need to bring all his skills, experience and a lot of his 1,200 staff to bear on this job.

46 Robert Kerr, managing partner, French Duncan

Kerr’s Scottish firm entered our list of top practices at 59 this year, registering enormous revenue growth of 40% at a time when many other accounting firms struggled to grow at all. If Kerr manages to keep company growth at anywhere near that level in 2010, a place in the Top 50 this year is assured.

47 David Tyler, chairman, Sainsbury’s

As with new Standard Life chief David Nish, Tyler comes from an impeccable finance background to take one of the biggest jobs in the UK. Steering Justin King and the rest of the Sainsbury’s team, the former GUS FD is not only representing the FD community but taking over from multiple finance chief and non-exec Sir Philip Hampton.

49 Ian Wright, director of corporate reporting, FRC

How do you influence the accounting practices of an entire industry? This is the job of Ian Wright. Last year he issued a number of advisory statements to the market, which successfully forced a rethink of going concern warnings. So far this year he has targeted intangible assets and goodwill accounting.

50 Eilert Hanoa, chief executive, Mamut

He founded the financial software company Mamut in 1994 and acquired its competitor MYOB at the end of 2008. Last year saw the CEO, who started his first IT business when he was 16, take on an estimated 10,000 customers from Microsoft as they dropped their Office Accounting offering. The latest move means Mamut is second only to Sage for financial technology to smaller businesses.

Further reading:

Financial power list 2009

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