Knight’s crusade

Despite a successful career spanning four decades, more people in the world of finance have probably heard more about Bill Knight in the past year than ever before.

Knight took over as chairman of the Financial Reporting Review Panel 13 months ago. And in that time, the regulator has beefed up its role, coming to the attention of ever more people in the City, not just auditors.

In years gone by, the FRRP acted only when it had been tipped-off about a specific complaint of any financial transgression. But in the light of events such as Enron and Parmalat and various government reviews of the accountancy profession, the FRRP has not only been given teeth but every permission to use them.

It was a process that began under Knight’s predecessor, Richard Sykes. During Sykes’ four years in the post, the FRRP began its own investigations into various company accounts, examining some 300 a year.

It set the standard for the work now being carried out except that, under Knight’s rule, the FRRP is getting tougher.

On Wednesday, it published details of how it plans to continue its investigations of businesses, with those in the retail and transport industries likely to feel the full force of the ever-stronger FRRP in the next few years. Its role is set to become even more prominent.

Knight took over on 1 March, 2004 following Sykes’ decision to retire. He was chosen, according to Sir Bryan Nicholson, chairman of the Financial Reporting Council, for ‘his great experience and knowledge of the financial reporting field from his professional practice’.

This experience includes a strong legal background. A solicitor, he joined the law firm Simmons & Simmons back in 1967, beginning a rich association with the company. Now in his late 50s, Knight is senior partner.

As well as an impressive list of roles in the City, he is currently deputy chairman of council at Lloyd’s of London and chairman of the enforcement committee of the General Insurance Standards Council.

For those few who still do not know who Bill Knight is, they could be finding out in the very near future.

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