Timothy Copnell

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The pioneering work of Timothy Copnell of KPMG’s Audit Committee Institute (ACI) set him apart from the other contenders for this year’s Accountant of the Year award.

In recognition of the growing importance of audit committees, Copnell established the ACI to help audit committee members adapt to their changing role. Historically audit committees have largely been left on their own to keep pace with the rapidly changing governance, audit, accounting and financially reporting environment.

He established the institute to fulfil the professional development needs demanded by audit committee members and provide an ideal forum for members to share their experiences and knowledge.

In an environment where the recent spate of restated financial statements, missed earnings projections and corporate failures had caused the spotlight to fall on the role of the audit committee, Copnell recognised that the goals of auditors and audit committee members were the same. Both sought to rebuild confidence in the capital markets through high quality financial reporting.

As a senior member of KPMG’s department of professional practice, Copnell has led many of the firm’s responses to DTI, ICAEW and FRC consultative documents. He has also contributed to the development of best practice and regulation through participation in many ICAEW, LCSA and CBI working parties.

Originally focused on the audit committee chairmen of FTSE 100 companies, the institute is now in direct and regular contact with more than 1,700 members. The ACI has also organised frequent roundtables, each attended by more than 100 audit committee members.

Institute seminars, roundtables and breakfasts have been attended by audit committee members from prominent concerns such as BP Group, Vodafone, HSBC Group, GlaxoSmithKline, Royal Bank of Scotland, AstraZeneca, Barclays, HBOS and Lloyds TSB.

The institute fulfils audit committee members’ development needs, furnishes them with tools and information, and provides an ideal forum for them to share knowledge and experience.

Copnell is a regular presenter on the corporate governance conference circuit, makes frequent contributions to business journals and has written material for corporate governance books and best practice guides.

It is this level of technical expertise that provides the backbone on which the success of the Audit Committee Institute is based.

He has been active in a variety of other areas, including presenting at seminars across Europe and the Middle East, helping create similar audit committee initiatives in several European countries, and writing Shaping the UK Audit Committee Agenda, the complete handbook for audit committee members.

Copnell’s entry brought praise from a number of sources. ‘Tim’s work with the Audit Committee Institute has proved to be a major influence in the marketplace. Audit Committee members value the institute’s initiatives and recognise the contribution Tim has made in this area,’ said one observer.

‘The Audit Committee Institute has been a great initiative. The material Tim has produced has been excellent and proved very useful in practice,’ commented another.

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