Financial power: The Top 50

With accountants among the most significant contributors to the success of UK plc, Accountancy Age has ranked the 50 financial figures whose decisions will affect the working lives of the profession in 2001.

Most of those on this list are accountants but many are not; influence not qualification determines inclusion. Responsibility for the final list rests with Accountancy Age, though we would like to thank the many senior figures who contributed their views.

1 Sir David Tweedie, IASB chairman
Sir David Tweedie, the man who would ‘cross a motorway for a punch-up’, takes the the top slot in the Top 50 without a moment’s hesitation. Formerly of the Accounting Standards Board, and from 1 January chairman of the revamped International Accounting Standards Committee Board, he is without question the most influential and important man for, and from, UK accountancy.

Sir David has progressed through academia, practice and standard setting, and leaves his post at the ASB after ruffling the feathers of new and old economies alike in the UK. The former KPMG partner was appointed to eradicate lax practices applied by UK plcs during the 1980s and it is upon his unremitting drive to achieve this that Sir David has built his reputation.

Candid and confident, Sir David was chosen to head up the IASC in the hope that he would build a bridge to the US in a bid to realise internationally harmonised accounting standards. It is a big job.

But if anyone can do it in the years ahead, Sir David will.

2 Arthur Levitt, US SEC chairman
The longest serving chairman at the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Arthur Levitt left an indelible mark on the accountancy world with his crusade to protect investors by separating audit from consultancy functions within accountancy firms.

After enraging the big UK accounting firms Levitt would have filled our top position were it not for the fact he is about to leave his post.Without doubt his proposals have radically changed the landscape for the UK Big Five. Not least he held his nerve to stand up to PwC, playing an instrumental part in its decision to sell off its consultancy business.

A political appointee of the US president, he departs in February following the election of Republican George W Bush. And though he leaves his post his proposals are thought flexible enough to live on under the new president.

Recently he said: ‘For the last almost eight years, I’ve had my dream job. I’ve been able to work on issues that I have been deeply passionate about.’

He may be off, but his legacy will be be felt for some time yet.

3 Peter Wyman, PwC tax partner
A tax visionary who has long fought for a simpler tax system, Peter Wyman once likened the struggle to ‘paddling upstream against a torrent from a hydroelectric plant – we are going backwards fast!’

His passion for the cause led him into hot water last year when he became embroiled in a very public spat with Gordon Brown on Budget measures to reform double tax relief. After PwC took the chancellor to task over his taxation plans, Brown publicly criticised Wyman on TV, hinting he was in the pay of the Conservatives.

Anyone who knows Wyman paid little heed to Brown’s outburst. And it has not affected his behind the scenes work. He is sure to be one of the most effective ICAEW presidents when he takes the chair next year.

4 Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO
It is ironic the normally publicity-shy head of the National Audit Office should spend so much time in the public eye.

Sir John Bourn, guardian of the nation’s finances as comptroller and auditor general, was thrust into the spotlight last year when his office revealed its damning report on the financial chaos at the Dome.

If there is something wrong with the nation’s accounts and how the money is being spent, he will say so. And there is no right of appeal. With his appointment to the chair of the accountancy Foundation?s Review Board his influence will spread much wider.

5 Sir Michael Scholar, DTI head
The most senior civil servant at the DTI, Sir Michael is the man steering through many of the most influential pieces of legislation touching the lives of accountants. The company law review and changes to the audit threshold are just two that will soon have far reaching effects. Not only will he be steering the work of DTI officials, he is also a key adviser to secretary of state Stephen Byers.

When Sir Michael speaks, the cabinet listens.

6 John Coombe, FD GlaxoSmithKline
Londoner John Coombe, FD of the now merged drug company Glaxo SmithKline, now gsk, spent most of last year shuttling across the Atlantic sorting out the merger between Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham.

After 11 months of waiting, the new London-based company launched on the London and New York stock exchanges last year, and Coombe took control of the purse strings of the UK’s third largest company with a market value of £115bn. He swiftly became one of the most important accountants in business. Chairman of the highly influential inner sanctum of accountants and finance professionals in business, The 100 Group of Finance Directors, and a member of the Accounting Standards Board, his influence is felt widely.

7 Mary Keegan, ASB chairman
The Financial Reporting Council’s decision to elect Mary Keegan, formerly a senior partner at PwC, to fill the post of chairman of the Accounting Standards Board, will ensure a strong voice for the UK and Europe in the international arena. Her new position is a culmination of more than a decade of work dedicated to championing the cause of harmonisation in accounting standards.

Formerly head of PwC’s global corporate reporting group, Keegan is well placed to take up the role where she will seek to win over UK plc, still bruised from recent controversial reform.

8 Howard Davies, FSA chairman
A passionate Manchester City fan and the only person on this list with regulatory, business and public sector experience, Howard Davies is the most powerful policeman the Square Mile has ever seen.

In 1997 the Financial Services Authority began its quick step to supremacy, taking over the responsibilities of the Securities and Investment Board, and the Personal Investment Authority. Today it is Davies, who became a Knights Bachelor last month, whose empire takes in everything from accountants to the largest fund managers in the Square Mile, who rules the roost.

9 Roger Davis, partner PwC
The name Roger Davis may surprise a few readers of this list. But no one who sits at the profession’s top tables doubt this PricewaterhouseCoopers’ partner’s influence.

As well as his day job as PwC’s head of professional affairs, he is the ICAEW?s representative on the DTI company law consultative committee, a driving force behind the institute’s audit faculty and he is a member of a business forum advising the European Commission on world trade.

10 Karel van Hulle, head of financial reporting and company law unit, European Commission
The straight talking Karel van Hulle is widely credited with keeping Europe in the game of accounting standards.

His reputation as a determined and creative negotiator is undisputed.Known as an astute politician, van Hulle believes that the existence of too many standard setters in different EU member states is holding back the creation of a single market.

11 Jacob Glanville, Legal and Economics Consulting Group senior economist
He may be relatively unknown, but Jacob Glanville is a man with the potential to turn the profession on its head in 2001. When the Office of Fair Trading was asked to investigate restrictions on competition in the professions they turned to the Legal and Economics Consulting Group where Glanville is project leader.

12 John Connolly, Deloitte & Touche senior partner
Already the fastest growing Big Five firm, Connolly heads what one day may be the largest: as the others continue to split up, he is fighting to keep his together. Running what he claims to be the most profitable large partnership, Connolly is probably the highest paid accountant in the country.

13 Jon Moulton, Alchemy managing partner
Through his stewardship of venture capitalists Alchemy Jon Moulton is a millionaire. He had decided weeks before the negotiations terminated not to buy Rover, but he stayed in as long as BMW kept paying him £1m a week to do so. He demonstrates that the stereotype of the boring accountant is long dead.

14 Nick Montagu, Inland Revenue chairman
Since his appointment in 1997, the urbane Nick Montagu has headed a raft of a major Inland Revenue projects, making him one of the most high profile of civil servants. The former philosopher’s main role is to turn the Revenue into an ‘enabler’ of taxpayers instead of an ‘enforcer’. He has won wide support for the radical move through good humour and decisive action.

15 Kieran Poynter, PwC senior partner
The fact that PwC audits half of the FTSE 100 alone qualifies its chain-smoking senior partner for the list. But his power has yet to travel: fellow partners Peter Wyman and Roger Davis have emerged with greater external influence. Poynter has overseen PwC’s ‘separation’ from its consulting arm in the UK but so far only a failed bid from Hewlett Packard has materialised. Watch this space, however.

Red Dawn is not so red these days but her political conversion has seen her stock soar. From controversial proposals to merge the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise to the notoriety of IR35, it is Primarolo who speaks for the government. Increasingly it is Gordon Brown who announces the good news and Primarolo who does the dirty tax work.

17 Mike Rake, KPMG senior partner
As head of KPMG, polo-loving Rake is at the forefront of opening up the profession’s finances as well as campaigning to adopt the euro. Impeccably connected, Rake has stamped his own character on the firm that is closest to government. His stock – not to say his £1.65m pay packet – will only grow.

18 Lynn Turner, SEC chief accountant
It was Lynn Turner who kicked off 2000’s audit objectivity controversy by delivering the devastating SEC report that admonished PwC’s independence record. And though Arthur Levitt has been the US regulator’s public face, it falls to Turner to ensure the audit rules are enforced once Levitt is gone.

19 Nick Land, Ernst & Young UK chairman
Recently joining the millionaire accountants’ ranks, Land has led E&Y since 1995. The keen opera buff drove the sell-off of the firm’s consulting business to Cap Gemini, the first firm to do so.

20 Lord Sharman, working peer
Since standing down as chair of KPMG International, Liberal Democrat working peer Lord Sharman has been busy. The outspoken Europhile sits on several boards but it is his work in the Lords that lends Lord Sharman the opportunity to grow his influence.

21 Dennis Keeling, BASDA chief executive
Dennis Keeling is widely recognised as the man who knows more about accounting software ‘than practically anybody’. A journalist before becoming a consultant in 1993 he helped found BASDA – which has gone on to become an international standards body for the software industry.

22 Chris Dickson, JDS executive counsel
If you are an accountant charged with bringing the profession into disrepute there is a good chance you will be hearing from Chris Dickson. Executive counsel of the accountants’ Joint Disciplinary Scheme, he decides whether there is a case to answer. Talk of the JDS cannot pass without mentioning Bill Morrison who chairs the executive committee and appoints the QCs who hear and try the cases. Among those is Roger Henderson QC who presided over the Maxwell-related hearings, and prosecutors Peregrine Simon QC and Robin Dicker QC.

23 Graham Ward, ICAEW president
Graham Ward attained 23rd position in our list thanks to his leadership at the UK’s largest chartered institute. As president of the ICAEW, Ward and the institute’s secretary-general John Collier have presided over a difficult 12 months. Ward may have stood up to the SEC, but his institute has lost students to a resurgent ICAS. We may not rank him in our top 20, but Ward has formed an effective triumvirate with his successors as president ?ÿMichael Groom and Peter Wyman -ÿthat will serve the institute well.

24 Alan Bloom, head of Ernst & Young’s restructuring practice
Alan Bloom has been credited with revolutionising insolvency and bringing recovery professionals to wider prominence. He was the prime mover behind expanding the Society of Practitioners of Insolvency (now R3) to include turnaround professionals.And his own insolvency work is certainly headline-grabbing, with Maxwell and the turnaround of Canary Wharf on his CV.Bloom will also represent Barings’ creditors, who are pursuing a £1bn claim. He is the only practitioner on the government’s review of insolvency and company rescue.

25 Steven Marshall, Railtrack chief executive
Steven Marshall hit the headlines in November as he took on the UK’s highest profile rescue task when former chief Gerald Corbett resigned following the Hatfield crash.It won’t be enough to improve on his predecessor’s record – three fatal crashes, cost overruns plus overpowering public scrutiny – Marshall is faced with no less a task than restoring public confidence in a company that has lost much of the faith of its customer base.

26 John Whiting, tax partner PwC
There can be few accountants who are as regularly quoted in the media as PwC tax supremo John Whiting.

At the last Budget, Whiting estimated he completed interviews for 12 different programmes in 24 hours.His work with the Chartered Institute of Taxation’s technical committee has brought him into frequent contact with the Revenue and government. Currently CIoT vice-president, he becomes president in May. That will only boost his media profile.

27 Anthea Rose, ACCA chief executive
The longest-ever serving chief executive of ACCA, Anthea Rose, who retires soon, has spearheaded the institute’s successful drive to increase its presence globally. By the time she leaves in December the formidable Rose will have been chief executive for nine years and will have worked at ACCA for an incredible 26 years. She has emerged as a key figure in the profession and will play an important role in the selection of her successor.

28 Lord Howe of Aberavon
When it comes to the potential for direct influence over the lives of accountants Lord Howe is well ahead.

A zealous advocate of tax simplification, the former chancellor has been speaking out vociferously for government to do more in this field. An aim few tax experts and accountants would disagree with. He is currently chairman of the Inland Revenue’s steering committee overseeing the tax law rewrite project, but it is fundamental simplification that Howe wants most of all.

29 Robert Bourne, chief executive of Legacy
The multi-millionaire property developer and Labour party supporter became a household name with a bid to turn the Dome from failing visitor attraction to hi-tech business park.His company Legacy and ministers are working to finalise a £125m deal. But it is as both a donor and friend to the likes of culture secretary Chris Smith and former dome minister Peter Mandelson, that he draws the eye.

30 Professor Andrew Likierman, head of government accountancy
The gargantuan task of dragging the civil service in Whitehall from a Victorian cash accounting method to a modern day commercial system has taken almost a decade but Andrew Likierman has steered it through with a skilful and determined grip.He has overcome departments sluggish to change, a lack of experienced staff and the very scale of the project. He still lectures at the London Business School and in the past has run a textile factory. But it is his reform that will make his year a busy one.

31 Gerry Acher, CBE, KPMG London senior partner
Formerly head of audit and accounting with the firm, Acher now concerns himself with a far wider remit. As head of the English institute’s Audit & Assurance Faculty, he is using the position to spread the gospel of ethical, environmental and social auditing. Acher also lobbies for the capital’s pressure group London First, and has led a delegation of business people to meet Robert Kiley, Ken Livingstone?s London transport guru.

32 Anne Redston, Ernst & Young tax partner
Anne Redston was thrust into the spotlight last year through her unstinting opposition to the government’s controversial IR35 tax crackdown. The new rules intended to cut tax avoidance among the self-employed sparked unprecedented opposition with claims that the legislation would cause a brain drain in a sector already suffering from a skills shortage.With a High Court hearing imminent on IR35, Redston’s influence will continue.

33 Gavin May, Sage general manager
Gavin May is a key player in the accountancy software industry and has helped build Sage to the point where it has more than 9,000 UK practices using his company software and at least 6,500 members of its acclaimed accountants club. His company, PACS Holdings, producers of the Audit 2000 software, was acquired in 1998 by Sage, with May joining as general manager of their professional accountants division. There is probably no accountant who has not at some time come into contact with May?s software.

34 Philip Randall, Arthur Andersen managing partner
Philip Randall has been Arthur Andersen UK managing partner since 1997 and managing partner of global markets EMEIA since 1996. Randall has also served on the Andersen Worldwide board of partners since November 1999. The Oxford graduate heads up one of the most powerful firms in the country and makes our Top 50 by virtue of being among the Big Five managing partners, a very select band of people.

35 David McDonnell, Grant Thornton managing partner
David McDonnell, national managing partner of GT, has steadfastly retained the firm’s competitive edge over its rivals in the mid tier. He engineered the recent shock merger with HLB Kidsons, which he said was needed to build a firm able to compete in the owner-managed business market. McDonnell became managing partner 1989. He is also chairman of GT’s international policy board and divisional director of Europe, Middle East and Africa.

36 Colin Reeves, Review Board director
Colin Reeves, the former finance chief of the National Health Service, was appointed to the position of director of the Review Board of the Accountancy Foundation at the end of last year. Reeves’ big task will be monitoring key regulatory bodies and advising the board. As the head of the executive, he will have the authority to shape the manner in which the six affiliated accountancy bodies carry out their regulatory duties.

37 Mark Allison, ICAS director of education
An unlikely choice but Allison, director of training and education at ICAS, the world’s oldest chartered accountancy institute, has won much new business for his institute.Allison’s new syllabus won ICAS an extra 900 new students from Ernst & Young and PwC, dealing a blow to the ICAEW.

38 John Abbot, NCIS director general
A former police constable John Abbot drew attention while fighting money laundering and claiming that criminals regularly tapped the skills of accountants.As the director general of the National Criminal Intelligence Service, Abbott said that less than 1% of accountancy firms had ever reported suspicious dealings to the government body. With the onset of the National Confiscation Agency, Abbott?s profile is set to grow and accountants have not heard the last of him yet.

39 Judge Hendrik Nel, South Africa
Judge Hendrik Nel is currently preparing a report likely to change the legal framework in which auditors and financial advisers operate in South Africa. His task is to investigate auditing first principles and it is this which will make experts across the world watch to see exactly what he concludes.

40 Gordon Brown,chancellor of the exchequer
Widely considered as the economic and ideological force behind New Labour, Gordon Brown is one of the figures most likely to influence any accountant?s working day. Through tax reform, spending plans and increasingly through changes to benefits, Brown is a man to watch. But he slides down our list because much of his dirty work is handled by henchmen, notably Dawn Primarolo.

41 Ian Buckley, Tenon chief executive
Ian Buckley is the livewire behind the consolidator’s push for the Top 20. With four recent acquisitions he has put his investors’ money where his mouth is. Tenon plans more buys and there is talk that the group is considering raising more funds to add to its £50m start up.

42 Jules Muis, EC head of internal audit
Jules Muis is about as far from the strong, silent type as you can get among the Brussels eurocracy. Formerly Ernst & Young’s senior European partner, Muis put accountancy near the top of the World Bank’s agenda and will do so again at the EC.

43 Ian Plaistowe, Auditing Practice Board chairman
As well as his APB remit, the director of the Arthur Andersen’s audit and business advisory practice is a spokesman on global audit standardisation on the world stage. Plaistowe backs better audit standards and greater communication between auditors and audit committees. And with the EC taking a greater interest in audit, Plaistowe will have a still broader platform for 2001.

44 Hamish Davidson, head of PwC’s Executive Search & Selection
A headhunter may seem an unlikely member of this list, but Davidson matters. Through him, PwC has been responsible for filling countless senior posts across private and public sectors, including members of the new-look House of Lords.

45 Sir Andrew Foster, controller of the Audit Commission
Under Sir Andrew’s wise stewardship the commission has extended its influence through local government and the health service.

46 Brian Smith, secretary of the Global Steering Committee
Few have heard of this organisation but it is a developing power base that belies its status as an informal group. Formed by the senior partners from the Big Five, BDO Stoy Hayward and Grant Thornton, the body was formed to represent the interests of accountancy firms with global interests. Smith is slowly emerging as its public face.

47 Kimberley Crook, ASB project director
One of the most controversial proposals to come out of the ASB last year was authored by Kimberley Crook, a PwC secondee. The ASB project director drew up proposals to require companies to show the costs of issuing employee share options in the p&l, causing quite a stink in the process. Former project directors Kathryn Cearns and Anne McGeachin are another two to watch.

48 Baroness Noakes, partner, KPMG
No longer Dame Sheila Masters, the Baroness has made quite an impact in the accountancy world and beyond. A fearsome reputation always precedes her and her year as president of the ICAEW certainly ruffled feathers. She is tipped as a possible successor to Sir Edward ‘Eddie’ George as Bank of England governor.

49 Rod Aldridge, executive chairman Capita
When Rod Aldridge and his team bought out CIPFA’s outsourcing arm little more than a decade ago, no one expected he would grow the business into a FTSE100 company, least of all CIPFA. Through Capita, Aldridge is now thought to be worth around £39m.

50 Sir Ian Prosser, chairman, Bass
The 57-year old Sir Ian may have relinquished his chief executive role at Bass, but he remains executive chairman. Also a non-executive director on the boards of BP Amoco and Glaxo SmithKline, he sits on the CBI president’s committee and the World Trade and Tourism Council board.

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