Overview – Where are they now?

Sometimes things don’t work out as you expect. Even for the most skilled of financial operators, events will, on occasion, conspire to take them in directions they could not have anticipated, or wanted. So it is with the Accountancy Age Top 50 list of movers and shakers. We may think our chosen stars of the finance world will make it big – but then again, they might just drop off the radar altogether or do something you couldn’t imagine.

It’s not always for bad reasons, of course. Frits Bolkestein, EU commissioner for internal markets, simply came to the end of his term as Manuel Borroso, the new president of the commission, ushered in a new team of top eurocrats.

The same could be said for Karel Van Hulle, the former head of the EU’s accounting service, who has no direct replacement, but whose work has largely been taken by Jurgen Tiedje.

Some have come to the end of the road for other reasons. Marta Andreasen, the EU whistleblower and winner of the Accountancy Age Personality of the Year Award 2003 ran out of options at the end of 2004 when the European commission upheld her dismissal. The effects of her claims and accusations may have some time to run but, unless she manages to build a very public campaign, Andreasen could well fall from view.

Running out of steam in a job is a perennial problem and one experienced by Tony Sarin, formerly chief executive of Numerica, one of the pioneer accountancy consolidators. This year saw him step down from the post as the company sought a way to turn around its ailing fortunes. Sarin’s a fighter, though, and an entrepreneur at heart, so expect to see him rise again, possibly in a very different guise.

Some chose to change for their own well being. This could be argued for football finance maestro Trevor Birch. He began the year as chief executive of Leeds Utd, secured its future with a sale and then took the top job at Everton. But that was a relationship doomed to fail as Birch realised it was not going to work and bailed out after six weeks. Perhaps a wise decision.

He has since returned to corporate restructuring with Deloitte, so we could yet see him have an impact on the world of sporting finance.

Some on last year’s list just appeared to get overlooked. Dave Hartnett, deputy chairman of the Inland Revenue, briefly took control of the department after the departure of Sir Nicholas Montagu. It was thought he might even get the top job.

But the government’s decision to merge the Revenue with Customs led to a new leader in the form of David Varney, former chairman of mmO2, an appointment that pushed Hartnett back into the shadows, where he might be happier anyway.

Ignominious departures are the worst of all. We tipped Judy Boynton, group CFO at Shell, for great things but then came the crisis over reserves. Billions of barrels of oil were wiped from Shell’s books and Boynton was forced to step aside to a ‘consultative role’.

Another loss was Mark Palios, the accountant brought in to save the Football Association from itself – but then came the affairs, the scandal and, despite putting the finances in order, the FA grandees chose Sven over Mark.

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