RegulationCorporate GovernanceOverview: Mills is a boon

Overview: Mills is a boon

Prospects: Dame Barbara brings 'charm and steel' to her new role

Dame Barbara Mills

In charge: Dame Barbara Mills

Dame Barbara Mills has worked on some of the most high-profile fraud cases in
recent history, battled with bureaucracy at the Inland Revenue and led the Crown
Prosecution Service. She has never been scared of a challenge during her
distinguished career and her latest job, involving a shake-up of auditing
regulation, is no exception.

What’s happened?

Dame Barbara was last week appointed chair of the Professional Oversight
Board, the unit responsible for UK audit regulation within the Financial
Reporting Council, the UK’s regulator for corporate governance and reporting.
She replaces Sir John Bourn, who earlier this year announced that he would step
down from the role after serving more than two full terms.

What happens next?

Dame Barbara will become chair of POB on 1 October. Sir John will continue to
act as an adviser to the FRC.

Her first big test will be overseeing a change in the way audit firms are
inspected. Later this year the FRC’s Audit Inspection Unit will publish
‘high-level reports’ on the audit firms.

Some of the big accounting firms raised concerns that inspection reforms
could lead to their clients being identified and lead to a ‘feeding frenzy’ of
requests for more detailed information on the AIU’s private reports. However,
the AIU has reassured firms that client confidentiality won’t be breached under
the new inspection regime.

Dame Barbara’s glittering CV includes being the first female Director of
Public Prosecutions, director of the Serious Fraud Office, and latterly
Adjudicator for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. She has dealt with several
financial fraud cases, including BCCI and Guinness.

Career low points include resigning as head of the Crown Prosecution Service
amid criticism over the service’s effectiveness.

She has also had an uphill struggle as adjudicator for HMRC when dealing with
thousands of public complaints about the Revenue’s unwieldy and complicated tax
credit system.

However, former colleagues reckon Dame Barbara has the right experience and
personality ­ a combination of charm and steel — to steer the POB through a
challenging period.

Chris Dickson, executive counsel of the JDS, the accounting regulator, who
worked with Dame Barbara at the SFO, described her as ‘charming and open
minded’.

‘What I liked about her was that she had an open door policy and was happy to
talk to anyone,’ he told Accountancy Age. ‘She was very informal but we
always knew she was in charge.’

Related Articles

Corporate governance: staying ahead in accountancy

Corporate Governance Corporate governance: staying ahead in accountancy

3m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
One in 20 audit firms quit as market evolves

Audit One in 20 audit firms quit as market evolves

1y Kevin Reed, Writer
Colin: #EURef bankers a problem

Business Regulation Colin: #EURef bankers a problem

1y Taking Stock
PwC and Deloitte chiefs sign Remain letter

Business Regulation PwC and Deloitte chiefs sign Remain letter

1y Kevin Reed, Writer
Leader: Audit competition drives change, not necessarily quality

Accounting Firms Leader: Audit competition drives change, not necessarily quality

1y Kevin Reed, Writer
EU audit reform to open up £10bn market for firms

Accounting Firms EU audit reform to open up £10bn market for firms

1y Richard Crump, Writer
Best Practice: Saffery Champness managing partner Rob Elliott

Accounting Firms Best Practice: Saffery Champness managing partner Rob Elliott

2y Calum Fuller, Reporter
Standard Life Investments opposes EY's appointment as Shell auditors at AGM

Accounting Firms Standard Life Investments opposes EY's appointment as Shell auditors at AGM

2y Richard Crump, Writer