Mary Keegan, managing director, government financial management at HM
One of the first private sector appointments in government finance was
Mary Keegan’s promotion to the Treasury in 2004. It was the first in a series of
private-to-public sector appointments reversing a long-established trend. Keegan
was appointed as managing director of financial management, reporting and audit
– a board-level position – succeeding Sir Andrew Likierman, who took up a post
at the London Business School after leaving Whitehall.
Keegan was a partner in charge of the financial reporting division at
PricewaterhouseCoopers until 2001, when she was appointed chairman of the
Accounting Standards Board. She replaced Sir David Tweedie, who is now into his
second five-year tenure as chairman of the International Accounting Standards
Keegan is well placed not least because of her private sector experience, but
also her knowledge of financial reporting and accounting standards. The IASB
together with the ASB are developing a new way of accounting for PFI contracts.
All government accounts will soon have to be written in accordance with IFRSs as
UK GAAP converges with the international set of standards. Under Keegan, the
Treasury was the first government department to file its accounts within three
months of year end – a significant step up from the usual nine month turnaround.
Mark Clarke, director general of the finance and strategy group,
Department of Trade and Industry
Mark Clarke, ICAEW qualified, joined the department in June 2006. He is the
DTI’s first ever professionally qualified accountant, and interestingly the
brother of former Home Office secretary Charles Clarke. Ahead of his appointment
in May, the DTI published a document Managing the department, in which it says
it has improved the ‘development of its specialists, reorganising its finance
functions and introducing a new finance excellence plan that will result in
smaller and more customer-focused teams, each headed by a professional
accountant’. The ‘plan’, led by Clarke, aims to improve financial management and
career management of its finance specialists.
His appointment is another prime example of the unconventional cross-over
from the private sector to the public sector. Between 2000 and 2006 he was
variously finance director of Barclays, Abbey and the Bank of Ireland, where he
was UK FD. Prior to 2000, he was the director of PricewaterhouseCoopers’
management consultancy practice, specialising in financial management and
performance management and business effectiveness – skills he will undoubtedly
need to disseminate in his new role.
Stephen Jones, finance director, HM Revenue &Customs
A tax inspector and career civil servant by professional background, Jones
attained his CIMA qualification this summer. He chose CIMA because he thought
the course focused on the areas where he had the most to learn for the FD role.
He is one of the first two finance directors to pass their qualification in
this way, rather than the department having to recruit externally to fill the
post. Jones joined the Inland Revenue after graduating from Oxford in 1976 where
he went on to train as a tax inspector in Stockport.
He later moved to London to work on corporation tax policy and, in the
mid-1980s, on financial sector issues, in particular the securities markets.
Jones was appointed a HMRC commissioner in April 2005.
Richard Calvert, director, finance and corporate performance,
Department for International Development
Calvert is the second government FD to have qualified with a CIMA certificate
via the government’s fast track route this summer.
Calvert had been considering an MBA or other finance qualification when he
opted for CIMA because of its ‘broad-based nature, with focus on business
management’. Calvert has been in the role since last September and has spent
most of his career in international development. DFID has a dual role in
promoting value for money in financial management.
A large area of the work is on resource transfer to developing countries and
keeping a strong focus on financial appraisal and monitoring its own projects.
DFID accountants are also involved in strengthening financial systems in partner
countries where the department operates, such as Africa and South Asia.
Barbara Moorhouse, director-general of finance for the Department for
Following Keegan’s appointment in 2005, Barbara Moorhouse was recruited as
director general of finance for the Department for Constitutional Affairs, with
responsibility for the department’s £3.3bn budget. Moorhouse is another example
of a classic move by government to poach from the private sector. She took up
her first group finance director role in 1997 when she was chief finance officer
for technology company Kewill Systems.
Her experience of international conferences, investor relations meetings,
mergers and acquisitions – at the height of the tech boom – will undoubtedly
serve her well in government. Indeed, when the boom finally imploded it hit the
company hard and Moorhouse became a cost-cutter, rather than a strategist, with
the job of avoiding insolvency.
Later, however, she joined another IT company – Scala Business Solutions –
where she was part of the team that sold the company to Epicor Software
Corporation in 2004. Moorhouse had some prior experience of public sector work
as she had served as a non-executive director of the Child Support Agency. She
has focused her efforts on improving the quality of the financial management
team, making a series of changes to the finance team. One of her biggest
challenges has been instilling the aims of the finance department and what kind
of skills are needed.
In May 2004, prime minister Tony Blair and the chancellor Gordon Brown agreed
that all government departments should have professionally qualified finance
directors in place by the end of 2006.
An overhaul of government accounting began under Sir Andrew Likierman,
managing director of government finances until 2004, when he shifted public
finances from the traditional cash accounting to resources accounting, bringing
public accounting closer to private finances. Mary Keegan replaced Likierman in
2004, continuing his reforms and spear heading the pledge to have professionally
qualified accountants, either through recruitment or training, in place.
On 15 June there were 33 qualified finance directors in place out of 45,
reaching roughly 73%of the target. A total of 27 fully qualified FDs were in
place in April. A Treasury spokesman said it was on track to have the full
100%in place by the end of the year.
The most recent appointment from the private sector is Hunarda Nouss who will
become finance director at the Department for Communities and Local Government
(formerly the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister).Nouss will take up her
appointment in September 2006.Heads of finance profession – the grade below FD
level – is now100% professionally qualified.
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