Overview: Top FTSE 100 FDs departures

Two of the most influential finance directors in the UK have made the
decision to move on from the world of finance for new challenges.

Jon Symonds, formerly of
AstraZeneca, and Ken
Lever, who will soon depart from
Tomkins, have been at
the forefront of the most important accounting debates that have dominated the
profession in recent times.

Symonds, as a former chairman of the Hundred Group of Finance Directors, was
a key figure in the transition to IFRS and tax issues for large corporates.
Lever, also a member of the Hundred Group, was a leading thinker on company
reporting and the operating financial review.

With these two finance heavyweights on the way out, two new incumbents have
been named to pick up where Symonds and Lever left off.

What’s happened

The FTSE100 FD establishment has been shaken up with the departure of Symonds

and Lever.

AstraZeneca looked outside the company for Symonds’ replacement after he took
up an offer at investment bank Goldman Sachs. Simon Lowth, previously of
Scottish Power, won out. Tomkins caught everyone on the hop by announcing that
Lever was heading for the door and Tomkins’ vice-president of corporate
development John Zimmerman was already waiting to step up.

What’s going to happen

Interesting times lie ahead for Lowth and Zimmerman.

The new entrants to the FD club will firstly have to live up to the legacy of
two corporate titans in steering the financial direction of their respective
They will have to earn the respect of the City and places on the influential
Hundred Group also await the new incumbents.

Symonds had been chair of the Hundred group and Lever headed up the body’s
financial reporting committee, which puts the levels of attainment the incoming
FDs must aim for into perspective.

Lever is staying on until the end of the month to show Zimmerman the ropes,
but he may be in line to receive a massive pay-off, seeing as he has agreed with
the board that he’s free to ‘pursue other interests’ as opposed to him simply
hanging up his spurs.

Zimmerman has been at Tomkins since 1999, so he should know the company
and out. The City may not be expecting fireworks when Lowth officially joins the
board ­ but fittingly, he takes up his position on 5 November.

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