BusinessCompany NewsTop 50 financial power list

Top 50 financial power list

A big year for international accounting standards, these prominent individuals all face unique challenges in the coming 12 months. One thing is certain, the success of their financial management will determine whether they inhabit the same ranking in 2005.

1 Sir David Tweedie

Chairman of the IASB
This will be the biggest year so far for the International Accounting Standards Board, and, as chairman, Sir David Tweedie will be busy ensuring that a full set of standards are ready for companies to use in 2005. Sir David has promised that all the mandatory standards for EU-listed companies will be available by the end of March. Avoiding political intervention will be vital to ensuring that this deadline is met. A very full agenda for a very busy man.

2 Jonathan Symonds
FD at AstraZeneca and chairman of the Hundred Group of FDs
Appointed chairman of the Hundred Group in November, Symonds is the financial mouthpiece for FTSE100 companies. If anyone wants to know what the blue-chips think of accounting standards, tax policy or economic measures, they need only turn to Symonds. This puts him in a unique position to influence government and regulators. Labelled ‘one of the best FDs of his generation’, Symonds has the respect and confidence of his fellow finance directors.

3 John Connolly
Senior partner and chief executive at Deloitte
Connolly would like to see his firm occupy the number one position in the Big Four. For the short term, he will be anxious to see a significant return from the integration of the 3,000 people who moved from Andersen. While 2003 was a huge year for Deloitte, 2004 could be the year when the enlarged firm’s power is more fully reflected in the bottom line. Most of all, he’ll want to make sure that the newly rebranded Deloitte makes ground on rivals PricewaterhouseCoopers.

4 Mary Keegan
Chairman of the ASB
The UK Accounting Standards Board may be somewhat overshadowed by the IASB these days, but it still has a vital role to play. Chairman Mary Keegan is viewed as tough, intellectually resilient, but always fair. She will be tasked with ensuring that UK GAAP takes a very similar line to international accounting standards, while maintaining UK accountants’ best interests. With 2005 rapidly approaching, this will be a hectic year.

5 Mark Palios
Chief executive of the FA
The former Tranmere Rovers midfielder-turned PwC business recovery partner probably knows that 2004 is not going to be easy. The first few months will see the Rio Ferdinand episode reach a climax, withthe possibility of a showdown against Manchester United. And that’s even before he continues with the real task of heading off the financial crisis that is threatening to strangle the game from the Premiership right down to the lower divisions.

6 Jacqui Smith
DTI minister responsible for the companies bill
As the DTI minister directly responsible for reforming company law, Jacqui Smith will have a huge role to play in 2004. Having already published the first part of the companies bill, which was widely lauded across UK plc, the more controversial aspects will be decided in the first half of this year. Audit liability legislation is a hugely political subject and, as the lobby groups muster to defend their corners, Smith will have to tread a fine line to keep everyone happy.

7 Cameron Scott
Head of the Investigation and Discipline Board
The Investigation and Discipline Board will take over the responsibilities of the Joint Disciplinary Scheme from this year, and as its new chief, Cameron Scott will be very much in the public eye. Like his predecessor Chris Dickson, Scott is a barrister by trade. For the past five years, he has worked in the Hong Kong branch of top 50 law firm Allen & Overy. In his legal career, he has represented all of the Big Four firms in one capacity or another.

8 Ken Rushton
FSA director of listings
As director of listings at the Financial Services Authority, Ken Rushton will be responsible for ensuring that all those companies due to make the switch to international accounting standards in 2005 comply with the requirements. Enforcement will be a key issue if the project is to be a success, and Rushton will no doubt have his hands full as the legions of listed companies struggle to come to terms with the new rules. Anyone caught out is sure to be made an example.

9 Allan Leighton
Royal Mail chairman and serial NED
It’s going to be a busy year for Leighton, despite stepping down as deputy chairman of debt-ridden Leeds United. Firstly he will continue as chairman of the Royal Mail, where he helped deliver profits for the first time in the face of a crippling strike and where more progress will be expected in 2004. Among his other key roles is his chairmanship of BSkyB’s audit committee, which Leighton took on after successfully backing James Murdoch as new chief executive to BSkyB shareholders.

10 Jacques Chirac
President of France
The man who distinguished himself as the face of diplomatic opposition to war with Iraq also marked himself as the politician willing to stick the boot into international accounting standards. Not only did Chirac take a swipe at accounting policies on derivatives, but he also questioned the composition of the IASB. In the run up to the go-live date for IAS, we might just see his anger sparked again.

11 William J McDonough
Chairman of the PCAOB
Following a few teething problems, the US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board is well-established, but still has the tricky issue of dealing with non-US audit firms to finalise. McDonough will be pleased with the progress made so far, but could still see opposition to his plans for a cooperative approach to oversight. Although the rules allow for reliance on other nations’ systems, some still see the requirements as overbearing.

12 Bob Herz
Head of the US Financial Accounting Standards Board
In 2004, Herz could turn out to be the man who brings accounting standards in the US much closer to the rest of the world. Charged with working on convergence with international accounting standards, Herz is acutely aware that, in the wake of Enron and WorldCom, the world is watching how he reforms US accounting.

13 Dave Hartnett
Deputy chairman of the Inland Revenue
When Sir Nick Montagu retires as chairman of the Inland Revenue in the spring, Dave Hartnett is expected to take over the reins on at least a temporary basis. And, should a Revenue and Customs merger go ahead – as is expected – Hartnett could find himself one of the most powerful civil servants in the UK.

14 Gordon Brown
Chancellor of the exchequer
The most powerful man in Britain in terms of economic policy, Brown will enter 2004 with a lot on his mind. While his most pressing task will be to balance the increasingly dodgy-looking books, he may be sidetracked by the small matter of a possible attack on Tony Blair’s prime ministerial position to consider.

15 John Sinclair
Geac accounting specialist and BASDA council member
Sinclair has a busy year ahead helping BASDA to educate companies about the software needed to meet IFRS requirements, while making sure the customers of software company Geac do the same thing. He will hope that his call for IT systems to be ready to ‘capture requisite comparative financial data’ for 2004 has been heeded.

16 Sir Bryan Nicholson
Chairman of the FRC
The new, expanded Financial Reporting Council gets going fully this year and it will be down to chairman Sir Bryan Nicholson to ensure that the handover of the bodies from the Accountancy Foundation goes smoothly. That done, Sir Bryan will be the head of the biggest accountancy regulator in UK history with more responsibility than any other previous watchdog. Sir Bryan is sure to want the Foundation to be seen to be working.

17 Trevor Birch
Chief executive of Leeds United
The former E&Y business recovery partner is tasked with preventing Leeds United becoming the first-ever premiership club to slide into administration. This is not going to be easy, given the club’s massive £80m long-term debt. Birch has already used his turnaround skills to secure additional time from creditors and the club now has until 19 January to either come up with a buyer or find a significant cash injection. Failing that, administration will be the only option left, a precedent Birch will not want to set.

18 Kieran Poynter
UK chairman of PwC
He is currently the highest-paid UK accountant in practice, at least until John Connolly’s salary figure is revealed, but this will be the last thing on Kieran Poynter’s mind this year. The chairman and senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers has guided the firm through an extremely tough 2003 and its position as top accountancy firm in the UK is now under significant threat from Deloitte. Poynter will be looking over his shoulder and for strong growth in 2004.

19 Judy Boynton
CFO Royal Dutch/Shell
The last year was a good one for Judy Boynton. She was appointed to the executive board at Royal Dutch/Shell and became the UK’s highest-paid female FD. Despite robust profits for big oil companies, she will have much to grapple with this year. Boynton has said that a combination of accounting changes and adverse foreign exchange movements mean that Shell might miss its target for underlying return on average capital by one or two percentage points. Not good news for 2004.

20 Peter Clarke
FD of Man Group
The highest-paid FTSE100 FD in 2003 was Peter Clarke, FD at Man Group, one of the world’s largest hedge fund managers. The 43-year-old takes home annually more than £2m in salary and bonus. The coming year sees the company building up its equities research and brokerage division, but the scale of the expansion remains undisclosed.

21 Nick Land
UK chairman of Ernst & Young
The charismatic chief of Ernst & Young UK faces a bruising 2004. With the long-running legal battle with Equitable Life looming large, Land must also maintain reasonable levels of growth to keep in sight of Big Four rivals PwC and Deloitte. This could be a make or break year for Land.

22 Marta Andreasen
EC whistleblower
Winner of the Accountancy Age Personality of the Year Award, Andreasen remains suspended from her job as the EU chief accounting officer, a year after raising concerns about the reliability of the union’s accounts. At loggerheads with European commissioner Neil Kinnock, Andreasen has taken a personal stand on the quality of accounting in Europe’s biggest governmental body. This year should see the resolution of her case and whether she is vindicated for her stance.

23 Karel Van Hulle
Head of financial reporting at the EC’s internal markets division
Preparing the ground for the introduction of international accounting standards in 2005, while trying to fight off intervention from the PCAOB across Europe, is enough to keep anyone’s hands full for the rest of the year. The European Commission’s internal markets division will be one of the US’s biggest obstacles to regulatory expansionism.

24 John Tiner
New FSA chief executive
John Tiner will be glad to put 2003 behind him – at least in his capacity as a Leeds United fan. But he will also remember it for his appointment as FSA chief executive. An early focus has been enforcement, and Tiner will take personal control of a likely crackdown, with companies being forced to hand over documents to investigators.

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