PracticeAuditProfile: Allan Cook of the ASB

Profile: Allan Cook of the ASB

Every now and then events throw life's good guys into the eye of a storm and so it is with FRS 17 and Allan Cook.

Cook, technical director at the Accounting Standards Board, is at the centre of the furore over the controversial new directive that forces companies to report the full cost of pensions in their reports in one year instead of spacing them out over time.

It was the ASB who dreamt up the innocuously named scheme that has sent many a business into a collective paroxysm of rage.

Damaging to the asset sheet and harmful to business interests – according to many claimants including ICI, British Airways and Marconi – only a handful of all companies have implemented preparing for the new regime (though those that have seemed to have coped adequately enough).

And in their rage these unhappy companies have pointed the finger at those they feel are to blame; step forward Cook (and his boss Mary Keegan).

It seems a shame that such wrath has been reserved for such a shy, unassuming and well-respected figure such as Cook.

The 60-year-old has won a reputation as a man who understands the minutiae of technical accounting issues and, even rarer, can actually explain these to the rest of the 99.9% of the population who cannot.

Even better, he can do it another language.

At a recent meeting with French counterparts he explained ASB procedure, technical language and all, in French.

Be honest, how many meetings have you been to on the continent and actually conducted them in any language but English?

But it seems that this salt haired Cook is something of a Francophile.

As well as the language, later this year he will marry his French fiancee – in France naturally enough.

The compliments aside, he also has the overwhelming support of global standard setter Sir David Tweedie.

Tweedie, former UK chairman of the ASB, has been heard to say that he would never have got through the workload he had over his ten-year tenure had it not been for Cook.

Despite his media-shyness Cook is nevertheless forthright in speaking out for the UK against the man who is know for his determination to ‘cross a motorway for a fight’.

In the ASB’s new role as foot-soldier to the IASB, Mary Keegan, incumbent chairwoman of the ASB, holds Cook in the same high esteem as Tweedie did.

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